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Boeing 'In Massive Safety Cover-Up': Report

Here are the three links which should be read in full.  They are excerpted below.

Washington Post Story

Al Jazeera Story

NTSB: Loose rivets found in plane with hole - Updated Today

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investigators trying to determine why the roof of a Southwest Airlines jet cracked open in flight have issued preliminary findings suggesting there may have been flaws in the riveting work when Boeing built the plane 15 years ago.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that some of the rivets used to bind the Boeing 737's aluminum panels together were sunk in holes larger than the rivet shafts. The holes weren't lined up correctly and were misshapen, not round, the board said.


Two whistleblowers from Boeing have stepped forward.

Get all the details on the investigative report here

Al Jazeera has conducted an investigation into claims that more than 1,500 of the world's most commonly-used passenger planes, the Boeing 737NG, were built with ill-fitting and illegal parts.  Two whistleblowers who used to work for Boeing spoke to Al Jazeera's People & Power programme.  Al Jazeera has also uncovered internal Boeing documents which seem to support the claims - and others which appear to show that the US government itself has been helping Boeing to cover up the problems. 


Video - Complete broadcast

On a Wing and a Prayer

For more than a year Al Jazeera has been investigating allegations - made in US Federal Court proceedings - that between 1996 and 2004 ill-fitting, illegal and dangerous parts were assembled on to many of the most commonly-used passenger planes in the world today.

The allegations concern the Boeing Company - the most respected name in international aviation and the world's second-largest commercial aircraft manufacturer. The claims were made by then employees of Boeing in Wichita, Kansas who were working on a radically new passenger plane - the 737 Next Generation (NG).

Boeing had produced 737s since the mid-1960s, and the 737 series is the world's most popular short and medium-haul passenger aircraft. It is estimated that, throughout the world, a 737 takes off or lands every five seconds.

But by the mid-1990s Boeing had begun to lose market share to its European rival, Airbus. To regain its pre-eminent position, Boeing decided to build an entirely new version of the 737 - the Next Generation.

Earlier models were built by hand: as a result the dimensions or accuracy of each individual part would often be marginally different, resulting in the need for assembly workers to pack out gaps with "shims" or fillers. These added to the overall weight of an aircraft, making it more expensive to fly.

Parts for the new 737NG plane were to be designed, manufactured and built by a revolutionary new computerised process called ATA. Not only would this ensure that each individual part was identical, but that each would be precise to within 3000ths of an inch.

According to leading aircraft engineer, Dr Michael Dreikorn: "This ATA was designed so that the tolerances on putting the aeroplane together would be so tight that the aircraft would have higher strength and reliability. And in response to that, this aeroplane was certified to have higher gross weight and be able to operate at higher altitudes."

"The minute that I took the desk of buying 737NG parts I had shop personnel coming to me talking to me about the problems and the issues they were having with the parts not being manufactured accurately. [They reported] Shy-edge margins and were, out of contour, parts not fitting correctly ..." Prewitt says.

The parts in question were some of the most crucial elements of an aircraft fuselage - parts known as "chords" and "bear-straps".  

An aircraft fuselage is like a giant tube. That tube is made up of interlocking semi-circular pieces of metal - these are the "chords" and put together they form the 'frame' around which every other part of the airframe is built ... and on which the external 'skin' is assembled.

Exit doorways and cargo hatches are potential weak points in this fuselage: to strengthen them, huge re-enforcing sheets are assembled around the holes - these are the "bear-straps".

So vital are these parts to the safety of an aircraft, that Boeing's own 737NG Structural Repair Manual - obtained by Al Jazeera in the course of its investigation - lists them as "Primary Structural Elements" and warns: "The failure of PSE's could result in the catastrophic failure of the airplane."

According to lawyer Bill Skepnek - who for the last six years has become intimately acquainted with almost every nook and cranny of the 737NG design - when Boeing talks of the potential for these parts to cause  "catastrophic failure", it means exactly what it says.

"These are the parts of airplanes that, if they fail, we can have a decompression at altitude or we can have a rupture in the vessel, in the fuselage vessel of the aircraft. And as long as we can make that [fuselage] hold together we can keep the passengers safe."

But in Wichita, Gigi Prewitt was not the only Boeing employee coming across reports of ill-fitting and badly made parts. In another building on Boeing's vast factory site, Taylor Smith was getting very similar-sounding complaints.

"One of the shop managers sent me an email saying they were having problems with the fail-safe cords which are the long ribs that go all the way along the aircraft [...] They were telling me that from the beginning of the 1996 timeframe when they started manufacturing these parts, that they were coming in with shy edge margins, they were out of contour," Smith says.

Boeing's internal documents, which Al Jazeera obtained, give a snap-shot of the scale of the problem.

Part out of contour: quantity 1 … Part width – oversize: Quantity 4 … Material thin: Quantity 6… Part undercut: Quantity 26 … Hole mis-located: Quantity 17….

Continue reading...



Fatal Boeing 737 Plane Crashes

The following events are those involving at least one passenger death on a 737 where the aircraft flight had a direct or indirect role. Excluded would be events where the only passengers killed were stowaways, hijackers, or saboteurs. In addition to this page dedicated to fatal passenger events on 737 aircraft, AirSafe.com also has pages dedicated to fatal crashes and other fatal events to other airliner models , rates of fatal passenger events by model, as well as fatal accidents by airline. You can also review the NTSB database for 737 accidents.




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Reader Comments (18)

On a wing and a prayer

Air travel is a question of trust, but a People & Power investigation asks what happens when that trust is shaken.

Dec 15, 2010 at 4:12 PM | Registered CommenterDailyBail

Fatal Boeing 737 Plane Crashes

The following events are those involving at least one passenger death on a 737 where the aircraft flight had a direct or indirect role. Excluded would be events where the only passengers killed were stowaways, hijackers, or saboteurs. In addition to this page dedicated to fatal passenger events on 737 aircraft, AirSafe.com also has pages dedicated to fatal crashes and other fatal events to other airliner models , rates of fatal passenger events by model, as well as fatal accidents by airline. You can also review the NTSB database for 737 accidents.
Dec 15, 2010 at 4:12 PM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Dec 15, 2010 at 4:14 PM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Is that really new? In 1998 - there have been several incidents reported around the World caused by cheap maintenance and cheap parts coming from China. The last incidents with the A380 and Rolls Royce fell in the same category - cheaply made metal components made in China.

That's what happens if you let the business people cutting down where ever they can.
Dec 15, 2010 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterHCG
Excellent HCG, it is funny how some would just call it "Capitalism rearing its beautiful head" while they are out there helping to destroy America.
Dec 16, 2010 at 2:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
you are correct hcg...
Dec 16, 2010 at 2:46 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
This all started with the first gas crunch in 1973. The back side will neaver catch up with todays prices. In the years since I have watched the reverse- Colaterall damage out run the fowared colaterall damage our country is felling. It all started with the first gas hike.........that too was done with intent. & That started the Cheepen it up to make up the differance in "Profit".........! SHIT, my Twinkie & Cupcake is 1/2 the size it was when my dad was the Twinkie Man growing up......plus its twice the price too....?
Dec 16, 2010 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterTexas Dar
This is another case of industry "helping out" the regulators by offering "voluntary disclosures" instead of expensive federal investigators. Those who recommend dropping the regulations altogether-- and hence the power of the regulators-- must consider that some of the regulations are in place to protect the manufacturers. If we drop the regulations we should also drop the protection. I don't see that happening, only the slow starving of the FAA budget so they can't afford investigators or lawyers, and all they do is protect the likes of Boeing from lawsuits. It's the American way!
Apr 4, 2011 at 6:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJay C. Davis
So what if you kill people to make an extra buck two and destroy the middle class to make sure the rich parasites that run the show have all the wealth!

What the hell you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

What's another word for Capitalism?

I think nine times out of ten in 2011 Corruption fits perfectly.
Apr 4, 2011 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSagebrush
The two ladies that are the "whistle blowers" should be hailed at the highest levels of our country.......all the way to the President, and to the top legislators in both sides of our government. Their "safety" should be uppermost on the hearts and minds of our Justice Department.....and since they have been there and been "short-sheeted" someone in authority over the Justice Department
needs to see who "sold them out" and get rid of said persons immediately.......Then "take up the cause" of these two brave ladies,
and get them compensated for having been brave enough to take on the corporate giants they are doing battle with.

This whole thing "STINKS" to the high heavens.....and countless lives are at risk because of the "ho-hum" attitude of the people that should be doing something about this whole situation.

I don't know how the ladies have "stood up" for all of us for so long.....lets start a campaign to compensate them for their efforts!
Apr 4, 2011 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack F. Sneed

Panic on Flight 547: Emergency landing as four people faint and flight attendants are hit by dizziness

front page of the sunday express ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.


from the comments of airline staff and passengers this will be in the courts in the uk soon, its already been in australia.

27.03.11, 7:27pm


if you know of more, please help to spread the information by sharing them with us.

If only the bbc or other tv channels would cover this in a factual programme it would help stop this from happening to airline staff and passengers.

the longer this stays unreported the more lives are at risk, I would like to thank all of the dedicated victims who have stood up and fought this over many years, often being ridiculed and derided by so called paid experts employed by the industry to silence them.

this week in the uk we have seen hyper-injunctions to stop a man talking to his mp, the press and any other reporters, the courts must realise by now they can no longer keep protecting the corporations from being named and shamed, we the people pay their wages-we demand the rule of law under which no one is above the law, including them, to be observed.
Apr 4, 2011 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve on dartmoor
if this in new to any readers of the bail, google bleed air, or toxic airlines, they have made films about this, all on dvd, with luck they might get onto youtube or similar soon.

if the daily bail would like to interview Captain John Hoyte I am sure he would be happy to oblige, he can be reached at aerotoxic.org.

mobil aircraft engine oil contains dangerous toxic chemicals, due to worn engine seals and bleed air from the engines the fumes are fed into the plane itself, there is no filter system.
yes you can get clean oil, but it is expensive, there have been secret deals struck to keep this quiet, and they are now coming to light, if you can watch toxic airlines, or visit aerotoxic.org.

they are there to help, but need help to get more coverage.
Apr 4, 2011 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve on dartmoor
My-My-My, we knew it was comming, and now its here. Gee, it may be time to shut down the goverment, and stay off any Boeing aircraft, as they could give a shit about the people riding on them.......

Is thAre nothing that the American People can trust anymore..................... ( "NO" ) !
Apr 4, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterTexas Dar
How in the world can such be tolerated.....whether it is the company that is flying the planes, the parts companies that are supplying the faulty parts, or the FAA.....why aren't the "governing" bodies that are supposed to be overseeing these types of safety violations doing anything about this. Why can any "body" or any committee or the FAA or the President of the USA allow such to go on without someone listening to the "whistleblowers".....people who were eyewitnesses to such activity. How can anyone just say what they "saw" did not or is not happening.

With as many USA citizens alone traveling and depending on the "powers" who are supposed to be in control of such inspections
and said inspectors just "turning a blind eye" to the problems and letting them go without any curtailing. I will pray that none of your loved ones lose their lives flying on such aircraft.....for you don't give a damn about your loved ones lives!
Apr 28, 2011 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack F. Sneed
And another thing, the whistleblowers ought to be praised and rewarded, not "lose their jobs" and their reputations. I thought there were laws in place to protect the whistle blowers? Is that not the case?
Apr 28, 2011 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack F. Sneed
@ Jack F.
Corporations, Congress people, Administration people and the very wealthy are above the law. Whistle blowers will are to be fired, humiliated, and forced to live a substandard lifestyle, preferably under a viaduct with a shopping cart.
Apr 29, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterSagebrush

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