Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

A mechanic who was contracted by Boeing’s supplier Spirit AeroSystems to repair airplanes in Everett has filed complaints with regulators, saying he witnessed substandard work on the Boeing 787 and was terminated after reporting the issues.

Attorneys filed complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration and Occupational Safety and Health Administration on behalf of Richard Cuevas, an employee of Strom Aviation, a contractor for Spirit AeroSystems.

Cuevas alleges that, without Boeing’s permission, Spirit changed manufacturing and assembly specifications on drilling holes in the fasteners of the forward pressure bulkhead of 787s, according to a news release sent by the law firm Katz Banks Kumin. That could compromise power and air pressure on planes, says Cuevas, who filed an initial complaint in October using Boeing’s ethics hotline.

In the complaint sent to FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker, attorneys ask that the FAA launch an investigation into flaws in the 787 forward pressure bulkhead, which is a dome-shaped structure at the front section of the plane.

Boeing said in a statement Wednesday that Cuevas’s concerns were thoroughly investigated and engineering analysis “determined the issues raised did not present a safety concern and were addressed.” The statement did not identify Cuevas by name.

“We are reviewing the documents released today and will thoroughly investigate any new claim,” Boeing said in the statement.

Cuevas began working at Boeing’s Everett hangar in March 2023. His primary duties were to remove and replace cargo doors on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, and he claims he witnessed problems with three planes.

He says Spirit moved him to Wichita, Kan. in September to work in a manufacturing plant for Atlas, a Spirit supplier. While in Wichita, Cuevas said he noticed manufacturing flaws, such as the size of the holes being drilled into the forward pressure bulkhead. A month later, he returned to Everett to work on installing the forward pressure bulkheads into aircraft, and he saw more issues, including workers taking shortcuts to speed up production, he alleges.

When Cuevas expressed his concerns, according to the complaint, Boeing and Spirit were in the midst of addressing increased scrutiny from the Jan. 5 incident on an Alaska Airlines flight where a panel blew off a 737-9 MAX plane as it climbed out of Portland. The panel was a door plug used to seal a hole in the fuselage sometimes used to accommodate an emergency exit.

After Cuevas raised the issues with Spirit management and with Boeing, according to his claims, he was fired in March, on the same day FAA officials came to the Boeing hangar for a compliance inspection.

Boeing said Wednesday it is not involved in the personnel decisions of subcontractors.

“Our leadership is aware of the allegations and looking into the matter. We encourage all Spirit employees with concerns to come forward, safe in knowing they will be protected,” Spirit spokesman Joe Buccino wrote in an email.

Strom, a Minnesota-based aviation staffing company, didn’t respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

Cuevas is represented by the same attorneys who worked with Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour. Earlier this year, Salehpour testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, accusing Boeing of hiding safety risks on the 787 Dreamliner and 777 widebody jets.

Boeing has insisted the 787 fuselage gaps are not a safety risk, a claim that has been supported by John Hart-Smith, a retired Boeing engineer and senior technical fellow who examined the data behind Salehpour’s allegations.

The FAA is investigating the 787 Dreamliner following a company disclosure in April that South Carolina employees falsified inspection records on work where the wings are joined to the fuselage body. This investigation is unrelated to Salehpour’s testimony.

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#Exworker #Boeing #subcontractor #reporting #issues #fired

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