After reports of shoddy production at North Charleston Dreamliner plant, Boeing on offensive – Charleston Post Courier

After reports of shoddy production at North Charleston Dreamliner plant, Boeing on offensive - Charleston Post Courier

Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet

Workers at a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina have complained of defective manufacturing, debris left on planes and pressure to not report violations.

New 787 Dreamliners at the Boeing plant in North Charleston, S.C. When unveiled in 2007, the Dreamliner was Boeings most important new plane in a generation and an immediate hit with carriers.CreditCreditRandall Hill/Reuters

“Safety and quality are at the core of Boeings values – there is nothing more important than that. The 787 program has delivered 823 airplanes to more than 76 customers since its launch. As Boeing marks 10 years in North Charleston, our more than 7,000 Boeing South Carolina teammates are producing the highest levels of quality in our history. And, we are seeing this translate across our work and the in-service performance with our customers. We test our airplanes and verify components are fully operational, and when we find a component that is not, it is replaced and tested again. This is core to our quality system, as it is for the industry. I am proud of our teams best in-process quality of production and stand behind the work they do each and every day.”

In the wake of two tragic crashes that led to the widespread grounding of Boeings 737 MAX airplanes, The New York Times reports that poor practices at a South Carolina factory could raise questions about the safety of the companys 787 Dreamliner plane as well.

Boeing workers have filed numerous safety complaints with the federal government over issues ranging from shoddy manufacturing practices to tools and debris being left on planes, and workers say they have been pressured to not report regulatory violations to authorities, The New York Times reports. The investigation found that Boeing workers have installed faulty parts in planes at the facility, and that some aircraft have even taken test flights with debris such as tools and metal shavings inside the engine or tail, creating potential safety hazards.

According to the Times Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles, several current and former employees at Boeings Dreamliner factory in North Charleston, South Carolina described an over-hurried assembly line struggling to complete aircraft on time, resulting in potentially dangerous shortcuts.

The Times reported several instances of debris and tools being left on board Dreamliners coming out of the factory, with possible consequences for the safety of the planes. A former quality manager at the factory described loose metal shavings left over from the assembly process hanging perilously close to the planes flight control wires, which could damage those controls, according to the report.

The report comes as the company is dealing with the aftermath of two deadly crashes of its 737 Max aircraft, which have drawn attention to the companys production and safety standards. The Times noted that “there is no evidence” that the issues raised in the plant — which was celebrated as “a state-of-the-art manufacturing hub” when it opened in 2009 — “have led to any major safety incidents.”

New York Times: Boeings SC plant facing production issues

Read more: Boeing cant deliver the 737 Max to customers, and now the planes are clogging up its storage lots

Boeings 737 Max 8 has been grounded in the US and elsewhere following two crashes within five months that killed 346 passengers and crew. Boeing has acknowledged that in both accidents, a flight control system called the MCAS, or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, was activated due to faulty data from the planes external sensors.

Boeing faces accusations of negligence at Dreamliner plant

Another technician at the plant told the Times that the amount of debris he found near electrical systems meant that he was unwilling to fly on the Dreamliner owing to the safety issues, a detail highlighted in a tweet from the Times finance editor David Enrich. “I never plan to fly on it,” he reportedly said.

A Boeing representative told the Times that the South Carolina factory is “producing the highest levels of quality” in the companys history. Another representative told the Times that Boeing prioritizes “safety and quality over speed” and that “safety issues are immediately investigated, and changes are made wherever necessary.”

Boeing Dreamliner Plant `Plagued by Shoddy Production, NYT Says

Another former Boeing technician described finding other pieces of loose debris on Dreamliner, including “tubes of sealant, nuts, stuff from the build process,” according to the Times. The report cites other instances of parts and tools left on planes, including a ladder and a string of lights inside the tail of a plane, which could threaten the planes control surfaces.

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Boeing: Back Under The Microscope

Some airlines expressed concerns about Dreamliners from the North Charleston factory as well. According to the report, the CEO of Qatar Airlines sent a video to the factory in 2014, expressing disappointment and concerns about delays and flaws in Dreamliners assembled there. The Times noted that the airline subsequently only purchased Dreamliners assembled in Boeings Everett, Washington factory.

“Safety lapses at the North Charleston plant have drawn the scrutiny of airlines and regulators,” Kitroeff and Gelles reported. “Qatar Airways stopped accepting planes from the factory after manufacturing mishaps damaged jets and delayed deliveries. Workers have filed nearly a dozen whistle-blower claims and safety complaints with federal regulators, describing issues like defective manufacturing, debris left on planes and pressure to not report violations. Others have sued Boeing, saying they were retaliated against for flagging manufacturing mistakes.”

The Times pointed out that, while there were many incidents of loose debris on Dreamliners from the North Charleston factory, the planes continue to have an excellent safety record, and none of the incidents appear to have caused any actual major safety problems.

“The allegations of poor quality are especially offensive to me because I know the pride in workmanship that each of you pours into your work every day,” Zaback added. “I see the highest quality airplanes – airplanes that meet rigorous quality inspections and FAA standards – deliver on time on a regular basis from Boeing South Carolina, where they perform exceptionally well in service for our valued airplane customers around the world.”


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