Home » Boeing whistleblower tells Senate he was threatened by boss after raising concerns about plane safety: ‘They know where you live’

Boeing whistleblower tells Senate he was threatened by boss after raising concerns about plane safety: ‘They know where you live’

by John Jefferson
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A Boeing whistleblower said at a senate hearing that he faced threats and verbal abuse after he spoke up about safety issues at the planemaker.

Quality engineer Sam Salehpour was asked on Wednesday if there’s a “culture of retaliation” against whistleblowers at Boeing.

“Absolutely … The only reason I have my job [is] because I had my attorneys, we filed for the whistleblower system before I spoke up,” he said.

Mr Salehpour added that he was once berated by his boss during a 40-minute phone call.

“They call you on your personal phone to let you know that they know where you live,” he said. “They know where you are. And they can hurt you.”

“The threats … really scare me, believe me, but I am at peace,” he added. “If something happens to me, I am at peace because I feel like by coming forward, I will be saving a lot of lives and my piece whatever happens it happens.”

Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour is sworn in before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations before testifying (AFP via Getty Images)

“We put Band-Aid over Band-Aid to resolve the problems and Band-Aid over Band-Aid doesn’t cover it, maybe we need to consider some engineering fundamentals,” he said, before detailing extensive retaliatory behaviour, such as preventing Mr Salehpour from attending a doctor’s appointment and asking for loyalty pledges in writing. The engineer also said he was afraid he may be physically harmed.

Mr Salehpour went public with his claims last week regarding his allegations about two of Boeing’s planes. The planemaker was the subject of extensive news coverage in January after a door panel blew off mid-flight of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max.

Appearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s investigations subcommittee on Wednesday, the engineer, who has been at Boeing for more than 10 years, said the company “is taking manufacturing shortcuts on the 787 programme that could significantly reduce the aeroplane’s safety”.

Mr Salehpour claimed that the problems concern changes in how different parts of the 787 Dreamliner are put together.

“I found gaps exceeding the specification that were not properly addressed 98.7 per cent of the time,” he said of measurements and joints on the 787s.“Inspection of the data shows that the debris ended up in the gaps 80% of the time,” he added. “Again, you know you have debris in the gaps 80 per cent of the time.”

In a statement to media outlets before the hearing, Boeing said: “Extensive and rigorous testing of the fuselage and heavy tenance checks of nearly 700 in-service aeroplanes to date have found zero evidence of airframe fatigue.”

Asked if the planes are safe, Mr Salehpour said: “It’s like an earthquake. When that hits the building … [it has] to be prepared to accommodate that type of shake-up … Right now, from what I’ve seen, the aeroplanes are not being billed per spec, and per requirements.”

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