FAA investigating Boeing jets after engineer claims they are flawed

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/04/10/faa-investigating-boeing-jets-after-engineer-claims-they-are-flawed.html


“FAA investigating Boeing” Something about that just doesn’t feel right.


Not surprisingly the Seattle Times is covering this latest whistleblower in great detail. (paywalled, but here’s the latest link) Some of the bits mentioned by the current whistleblower are really notable, including having third party part suppliers make fuselage panels which didn’t align to the frame such that the installers had to jump up and down on them to get a bolt to reach. And yes, this whistleblower has received threats of violence like the last one who still has unaccountably been viewed as a suicide.


A few links courtesy of Metafilter user Rhaomi. tl;dr – “late-stage capitalism”.


hope the poor dude doesn’t wake up dead like the last one.


But what harm could POSSIBLY come from prestressing a component in a way that it was not designed for, THEN adding the normal stresses on top? /s

If these are indeed carbon fiber sections being joined, uhhhhh…carbon fiber is notoriously finicky about the direction in which it’s stressed.

Boeing hand-waved some of this away 3 years ago, and shuffled responsibility off onto the carriers. Per the Anchorage Daily News:

The FAA memo, which lists safety conditions affecting airplanes currently in service worldwide, states that these tiny gap defects are thought to be present in more than 1,000 Dreamliners. These are not considered an immediate safety concern but could cause premature aging of the airframe.

“We’re looking at the undelivered airplanes nose to tail, and we have found areas where the manufacturing does not conform to the engineering specifications,” a Boeing spokesperson said Friday. “None of these issues is an immediate safety-of-flight issue.”

Those planes currently in service can be inspected and reworked later during routine maintenance, the spokesperson said.

However, complicating the process, the FAA memo states that Boeing doesn’t have the detailed configuration data on each plane to know which may have the defects.

And with wheels falling off and engine cowlings parting ways, we know we can trust the carriers to stay on top of inspections and such. Right?


Thank you to and bless the whistleblowers.


The Seattle Times is showing most other media organisations how it should be done. Although Boeing is a massive influence in the paper’s hometown, it is not afraid to ask hard questions and raise serious concerns about the company. Good for them.


De Havilland’s engineers from 75 years ago could tell them the answer.


If I’m looking for a piece of furniture and I read the reviews saying the bolt holes don’t align, it’s an automatic red flag. Maybe flat-pack airplanes are just different?


They could hire Stockton Rush to help them figure it out too.


Much less than 75 years ago, the A380 program showed us the answer, which was: premature fatigue cracks (which were only found during repairs to damage from an incident where an engine blew up in flight, a whole other story) and hundreds of millions of dollars spent repairing and beefing up the rib feet on the wings:

(And, I can’t help but mention that the dH comet accidents 70 years ago were not caused by assembly pre-stresses, they were most meaningfully caused by a poorly executed fatigue test, but that’s a whole other rabbit hole… At least fatigue tests are something that Boeing does very well, and often: 1, 2, 3, 4…).


Am I the only one who finds the wording “boeing needs to do a little bit better” supremely out of place when this is about people dying in plance crashes?


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