US FAA opens investigation into Boeing 787 inspections

The Justice Department is also investigating a mid-air emergency of a Boeing 737 Max 9

Boeing employees assemble 787s inside the main assembly building in North Charleston, South Carolina. Reuters
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The US Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday it has opened an investigation into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, after the plane maker said some employees had committed “misconduct” by claiming some tests had been completed.

The FAA said it is investigating whether Boeing completed the inspections to confirm adequate bonding and grounding where the wings join the fuselage on some 787 Dreamliner planes, “and whether company employees may have falsified aircraft records”.

The agency said that at the same time, Boeing is reinspecting all 787 aircraft still in the production process and must formulate a plan to address the in-service fleet”.

Boeing shares were down 1.5 per cent at $177.03 late on Monday afternoon.

Boeing provided an April 29 email from Scott Stocker, who leads the company's 787 programme, to employees in South Carolina where the planes are assembled.

In the email, Mr Stocker said that an employee saw what appeared to be an irregularity in a 787 conformance test.

The email said that after receiving the report, “we quickly reviewed the matter and learnt that several people had been violating company policies by not performing a required test, but recording the work as having been completed”.

Mr Stocker said Boeing promptly told the FAA “about what we learnt and are taking swift and serious corrective action with” employees.

“Our engineering team has assessed that this misconduct did not create an immediate safety of flight issue," he said.

Boeing said in April it expects a slower increase in the production rate and deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner wide-body jets as the company deals with supplier shortages “on a few key parts”.

A Boeing quality engineer recently criticised some of the manufacturing practices on the 787 and 777 wide-body programmes and testified last month before Congress.

The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into a January 5 mid-air emergency of a Boeing 737 Max 9.

The National Transport Safety Board has said four key bolts appeared to be missing from the plane that had been delivered by Boeing months earlier.

Boeing has said it believes required documents detailing the removal of the bolts were never created.

Updated: May 07, 2024, 3:40 AM