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Boeing Whistleblower Says He Was Pressured to Hide Defects

A former quality inspector at Boeing’s largest parts supplier said Wednesday that he was pressured to hide defects found in airline parts, adding to scrutiny over the company’s quality control for its 737 aircraft.

Santiago Paredes worked for over a decade as an inspector at Spirit Aerosystems, Boeing’s largest parts manufacturer. He told CBS News and the BBC that he wasn’t surprised when missing door bolts led to an entire 737 Max door plug blowing out of an Alaska Airlines flight midair in January.

“Why’d that happen? Because Spirit let go of a defect that they overlooked because of the pressure that they put on the inspectors,” Paredes said. “If the culture was good, those issues would be addressed, but the culture is not good.”

He said he would see hundreds of defects in parts on a regular basis, even earning the nickname “showstopper” from higher-ups for how frequently he slowed production due to his inspections.

“They always made a fuss about why I was finding it, why I was looking at it,” he said.

“They just wanted the product shipped out. They weren’t focused on the consequences of shipping bad fuselages,” he continued. “They were just focused on meeting the quotas, meeting the schedule, meeting the budget… If the numbers looked good, the state of the fuselages didn’t really matter.”

Following the Alaska Airlines incident, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all similar 787 Max aircraft and did a complete investigation of the company’s parts quality and control infrastructure. Federal investigators said the company’s safety culture was “inadequate and confusing.”

After Paredes complained that Spirit management changed the defect protocol to encourage less reports, he said he was demoted.

“I felt I was being threatened, and I felt I was being retaliated against for raising concerns,” he said.

He was reinstated to a leadership role after filing a complaint but left the company shortly after.

Paredes said he’s still reticent about flying due to what he experienced at the Boeing subsidiary.

“I’d never met a lot of people who were scared of flying until I worked at Spirit,” he said. “And then, being at Spirit, I met a lot of people who were afraid of flying — because they saw how they were building the fuselages.”

Spirit denied Paredes’ allegations.

“We are vigorously defending against his claims,” a Spirit spokesperson told CBS News.

Last month, a separate Boeing inspector-turned-whistleblower said the company “absolutely” has a culture of retaliation against inspectors.

“In a rush to address the bottlenecks in production, Boeing hit problems, putting pieces together with excessive force to make them appear that the gaps don’t exist even though they exist,” Sam Salehpour said in a Senate hearing. “The gap didn’t actually go away, and this may result in premature fatigue failure. Effectively, they are putting out defective airplanes.”

Boeing has moved to take over Spirit in the wake of the Alaska Airlines incident and concerns over quality control.

The company said in March that “the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

READ 6 COMMENTS
  • J says:

    Not surprised Spirit is poo pooing.

    • Carl Mac says:

      Greed is the main reason behind this and all companies worrying about the bottom line, it should happen that some of these top executives of these companies be on the same plane that suffers an accident relating to missing parts causing some of these top POS to have injuries then maybe their anger will erupt into more better quality control, but until something happens nothing will change you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

  • STEVE says:

    MERGER WILL CREATE TRIPLE THE PROBLEMS ID BOEING HAS THEIR WAY ABOUT IT, MERGE THE COMPANY SO WE CAN HIDE AND CONTROL ALL THE PROBLEMS, GREEDY BASTARDS!

  • Sono Fabitchi says:

    I hope he is current on his life insurance premiums….

  • l says:

    VW CEO went to Prison for the Emissions scandal …….Why is this CEO still walking around /.

  • John sweet says:

    We will be seeing the notification of his “strange death” very soon!

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