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Boeing Faces Senate Scrutiny Over Aircraft Safety And Quality

Boeing 737-9 Max

Boeing's approach to safety and quality has been scrutinized during two Senate hearings.

The discussions come after a serious incident involving a door malfunction on one of its planes earlier in the year. 

These hearings mark the latest chapter in ongoing concerns over the aerospace giant's production practices and safety culture.

During the hearings, a former Boeing engineer who has turned whistleblower presented his concerns to a Senate panel. 

He reiterated previous claims Boeing had compromised on safety standards to expedite the production of its wide-body aircraft, specifically the 787 Dreamliner. 

According to the whistleblower, Sam Salehpour, the company neglected to properly fill small gaps in the fuselage's joints with shims, potentially leading to "premature fatigue failure" of the aircraft structure without warning.

In a prepared statement for the Senate Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee, he said: “I believe that Boeing can do better and that the public’s trust in Boeing can be restored.”

In response to these allegations, Boeing defended its production and testing processes. 

Earlier in the week, the company conducted a media briefing to demonstrate the rigorous fatigue testing applied to the 787 and 777 models, asserting that their findings revealed no significant safety concerns.

Despite the whistleblower's claims, some industry figures remain confident in Boeing's aircraft. 

Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, said: “I am totally confident that the 787 is a safe airplane.”

The incident on January 5, when a door panel blew out on a Boeing 737 Max 9 at 16,000 feet during an Alaska Airlines flight, has renewed interest in Boeing's safety protocols. 

It has exacerbated Boeing's crisis, leading to heightened scrutiny by the Federal Aviation Administration and a slowdown in new aircraft deliveries.

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Amid these challenges, Boeing announced major leadership changes. 

CEO Dave Calhoun declared plans to step down by the end of the year. 

The company also replaced its commercial airplane unit head and its board chair.

The Senate Commerce Committee also held a separate session delved into Boeing's safety culture. 

This session followed a report by an expert panel mandated by Congress that highlighted a significant "disconnect" between Boeing’s senior management and other staff regarding the adherence to safety norms. 

These hearings underscore the ongoing concerns and the need for stringent oversight to ensure the safety of Boeing's aircraft.

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