May 6, 2024 - Business

FAA opens new probe into Boeing over 787 Dreamliner inspections

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying over Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in April 2024.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying over Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in April 2024. Photo: Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has opened a new investigation into Boeing after the company disclosed to employees that it may not have completed required inspections on certain 787 Dreamliner airplanes.

Why it matters: The new investigation comes on top of several other federal probes of Boeing after a mid-air blowout with one of its 737 MAX 9 jets during an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this year reignited safety concerns.

What they're saying: The FAA said in a statement that the agency opened the investigation after the company voluntarily informed it last month that it may not have completed required inspections on electrical safeguards of bonding and grounding where wings join the fuselage on certain 787s.

  • It said Boeing is reinspecting all 787 airplanes still within the production system and is also required to create a plan to address the in-service fleet.
  • "As the investigation continues, the FAA will take any necessary action – as always – to ensure the safety of the flying public," it said.

Zoom in: Scott Stocker, who leads the 787 program, told Boeing employees in South Carolina that "several" people had been violating company policies by not completing the inspections but marking that they had.

  • Stocker said the company took "swift" and "serious" corrective action over the violations and alerted federal regulators.
  • "Fortunately, our engineering team has assessed that this misconduct did not create an immediate safety of flight issue," Stocker told employees in an email provided to Axios by a Boeing spokesperson.
  • Boeing did not provide any additional comments to Axios about the investigation.

Zoom out: A whistleblower and current Boeing engineer alleged that structural issues within the 787 Dreamliner and other jets could cause the aircraft to break apart in flight.

  • The issues specifically relate the company failing to fill, or shim, tiny gaps between components that make up the aircraft's fuselages, which could eventually cause fatigue failure, the whistleblower alleged.
  • The company denied those accusations and said the issues do not present any safety concerns.

Go deeper: Boeing paid Alaska Airlines $160M for losses after 737 MAX 9 grounding

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