Two More Boeing Whistleblowers Come Forward

AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson

This morning, Boeing launched the first flight of its Starliner into space carrying a two-person crew bound for the International Space Station. As with most of the headlines associated with Boeing these days, a problem developed almost immediately, with the craft developing a hydrogen leak that had previously been detected on the ground. It's expected to be able to complete the mission, though. Back on the planet, the news for Boeing didn't get any better. Two more whistleblowers have come forward to express their concerns about safety issues and production problems at the company's manufacturing plants. One worked directly for Boeing while the other worked at its subsidiary Spirit AeroSystems. The concerns they are raising are similar to the ones we've heard from previous whistleblowers, including the two who died under questionable circumstances this year. (NY Post)

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They say they just want to make sure the planes don’t crash.

Two former employees of Boeing and its key contractor have told The Post that – despite the deaths of two whistleblowers within two months this year – they are more determined than ever to tell the truth about what they allege are dangerous practices at the once-great but now scandal-scarred manufacturer.

Roy Irvin, a veteran of Boeing, and Santiago Paredes, who worked at Spirit AeroSystems (not to be confused with Spirit Airlines) are just two of at least 20 whistleblowers in the process of making their concerns about safety and quality issues at the aerospace giant public.

Their testimony comes after years of Boeing being dogged by whistleblower testimony and congressional investigations.

Roy Irvin worked as a quality control investigator at Boeing's plant in South Carolina, so he was in the thick of the issues currently under discussion. He worked on the 787 Dreamliner production line. The story he tells is very different from the company's claims that they practice due diligence in terms of safety and quality control, urging anyone who sees a problem to speak out. Irvin said that he "pushed back" regarding quality issues "nearly every day." He describes finding missing safety devices and untightened hardware on planes that had been placed on the "flight line," meaning they were supposedly fully inspected and ready for delivery. His supervisors referred to him as "insubordinate" because of the number of issues he raised.

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Santiago Padre worked as a production inspector for Spirit AeroSystems for 12 years. He claims to have been "shocked" when he found hundreds of defects on planes being prepared for delivery. He said he was further "horrified" when he was pressured to not say anything. Similar to Irvin, Padre described finding missing parts, incomplete parts, and even pieces of the airframes with temporary clamps on them instead of permanent attachment hardware. He too worked at the final inspection station where the planes were given a final look before being shipped to Boeing. He said that his supervisors gave him the nickname "showstopper" and told him to keep his defect reports to a minimum.

Both of the men said that they were not afraid to speak up now and would not relent even after the questionable deaths of two other whistleblowers. But that doesn't mean they are taking any chances, either. Roy Irvin said that he regularly checks his rearview mirror while driving to make sure he's not being followed. He also reminded reporters that he had spoken to deceased whistleblower John Barnett only a week before his supposed suicide. Irvin said that the explanation "doesn't add up." That is in keeping with other former employees, including one friend who said that Barnett told him he was not suicidal only a week before his body was discovered.

Spirit AeroSystems is maintaining the same line as Boeing in the wake of these two new whistleblowers coming forward. Their spokesperson insisted that the company "encourages people to come forward with concerns" and they have made it easier for people to do that. If so, that must be a relatively recent development. Some of these whistleblowers worked for Boeing as recently as a few years ago. And their complaints all sound so similar that it doesn't seem possible that these are just disgruntled employees looking to cause trouble for their former company.

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David Strom 8:00 AM | July 25, 2024
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