Boeing 'In Massive Safety Cover-Up': Report
Apr 26, 2011 at 1:29 PM
DailyBail in 737ng, Whistleblowers, boeing, boeing cover-up, corruption, cover up, video

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, 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.



Update on Apr 26, 2011 at 1:38 PM by Registered CommenterDailyBail

Updated with new developments.

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