Countries around the world have grounded Boeing Co.’s 737 Max 8 airline, after crashes of a Lion Air flight in October and an Ethiopian Airlines flight in March left 346 people dead.
And now, a second Boeing aircraft — the 787 Dreamliner — is coming under scrutiny, with whistleblowers who worked at a North Charleston, South Carolina, factory that produces the jet claiming the company is compromising safety with its “shoddy production” and “weak oversight.”
The New York Times was first to publish a report about the complaints on Saturday. Citing a sea of internal emails, federal and corporate documents, and interviews with current and former staffers as evidence, the Times claimed in their report that Boeing turned a blind eye to the alleged problems raised by employees, instead focussing solely on turning out planes more quickly
This led to manufacturing defects and the discovery of potentially dangerous debris and even tools left inside completed planes, the outlet reported.
“I don’t feel like the company is putting the priority into quality. It’s production for profit,” Rich Mester, a former Boeing technician who was fired by the company last year, told CBS News — who confirmed the Federal Aviation Administration received nearly a dozen complaints as recently as 2017 expressing concern about the 787 Dreamliner’s manufacturing plant.
Mester added that he “personally found” debris such as “tubes of sealant, nuts, clamps” and “a string of work lights” in “every plane” he checked.
Boeing denied the claims made in the Times’ report.
In a memo to employees obtained by PEOPLE, Brad Zaback — site leader of the South Carolina facility and general manager of Boeing’s 787 program — claimed that the news organization’s report “paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and of our team.”
“This article features distorted information, rehashing old stories and rumors that have long ago been put to rest,” Zaback wrote. “Quality is the bedrock of who we are. That’s why we relentlessly focus on quality improvements and FOD elimination at all Boeing locations. No matter how good we are today, we always believe we can be even better tomorrow. That drive to be the best will never change at Boeing as we continue to strive to be a Global Industrial Champion and the leader in quality.”
“The allegations of poor quality are especially offensive to me because I know the pride in workmanship that each of you pours into your work every day,” Zaback continued. “I see the highest quality airplanes — airplanes that meet rigorous quality inspections and FAA standards — deliver on time on a regular basis from Boeing South Carolina, where they perform exceptionally well in service for our valued airplane customers around the world.”
His note also included statements from American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Suparna Airlines and Norwegian — all of which supported Boeing and the 787 Dreamliner.
Earlier this month, President Trump announced that the FAA would temporarily ban the controversial Boeing MAX 8 and MAX 9 after evidence appeared to link two deadly crashes of the former with a faulty software system on the plane that caused the nose to repeatedly dip down after takeoff.
Southwest, United and American Airlines all fly those model in the U.S., but have grounded them due to the order.