The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been caught in a deepening probe that doomed the 737 MAX disaster.
Federal prosecutors are expanding their Boeing probe, investigating charges the 787 Dreamliner’s manufacture was plagued with the same incompetence that dogged the 737 MAX which resulted in hundreds of deaths.
The US Department of Justice has requested records related to 787 Dreamliner production at Boeing’s South Carolina plant, where two sources who spoke to the Seattle Times said there have been allegations of “shoddy work.”
A third source confirmed individual employees at the Charleston plant had received subpoenas earlier this month from the “same group” of prosecutors conducting the ongoing probe into the 737 MAX.
Boeing is in the hot seat over alleged poor quality workmanship and cutting corners at the South Carolina plant. Prosecutors are likely concerned with whether “broad cultural problems” pervade the entire company, including pressure to OK shoddy work in order to deliver planes on time, one source told the Seattle Times.
The South Carolina plant manufactured 45% of Boeing’s 787’s last year, but its super-size-10 model is built exclusively there. Managers reported they had been pushed to churn planes out faster and cover up delays.
Prosecutors are on the hunt for “hallmarks of classic fraud,” the source said, such as lying or misrepresentation to customers and regulators.
Whistle-blowers in the Charleston factory who pointed to debris and even tools left in the engine, near wiring, and in other sensitive locations likely to cause operating issues told the New York Times they were punished by management.
The 737 MAX, too, was reportedly rushed to market amid much corner-cutting in order to beat competitor Airbus’ hot new model.
Worse, the Federal Aviation Administration allegedly let Boeing conduct many of the critical safety checks itself, and other countries’ regulators took the US safety certification as proof they did not need to conduct their own checks, culminating in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines tragedies in October and March 2019.
A critical fire-fighting system on the Dreamliner was discovered to be dysfunctional earlier this month, leading Boeing to issue a warning that the switch designed to extinguish engine fires had failed in “some cases.
While the FAA warned that “the potential exists for an airline fire to be uncontrollable,” they opted not to ground the 787’s, instead ordering airlines to check that the switch was functional every 30 days.
Boeing has not yet been charged with a crime regarding either crash, but lawsuits against the company, including one class-action suit by over 400 pilots alleging the company covered up the flaws in its MCAS system.
The evidence against is piling up and orders of its planes have dropped to near zero as airlines around the world have grounded the 737 MAX for the last three months.
Earlier this month, the FAA found even more “potential risks” that must be addressed before the 737 MAX can return to flying.
ABC Flash Point Aviation News 2019.