'I never plan to fly on it': Workers reportedly recount poor practices at a Boeing factory in South Carolina that could spell trouble for Dreamliner plane

In the wake of two tragic crashes that led to the widespread grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX aeroplanes, The New York Times reports that poor practices at a South Carolina factory could raise questions about the safety of the company’s 787 Dreamliner plane as well.

According to the Times’ Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles, several current and former employees at Boeing’s Dreamliner factory in North Charleston, South Carolina described an over-hurried assembly line struggling to complete aircraft on time, resulting in potentially dangerous shortcuts.

The Times reported several instances of debris and tools being left on board Dreamliners coming out of the factory, with possible consequences for the safety of the planes. A former quality manager at the factory described loose metal shavings left over from the assembly process hanging perilously close to the plane’s flight control wires, which could damage those controls, according to the report.

Read more: Boeing can’t deliver the 737 Max to customers, and now the planes are clogging up its storage lots

Another technician at the plant told the Times that the amount of debris he found near electrical systems meant that he was unwilling to fly on the Dreamliner owing to the safety issues, a detail highlighted in a tweet from the Times’ finance editor David Enrich. “I never plan to fly on it,” he reportedly said.

Another former Boeing technician described finding other pieces of loose debris on Dreamliner, including “tubes of sealant, nuts, stuff from the build process,” according to the Times. The report cites other instances of parts and tools left on planes, including a ladder and a string of lights inside the tail of a plane, which could threaten the plane’s control surfaces.

Some airlines expressed concerns about Dreamliners from the North Charleston factory as well. According to the report, the CEO of Qatar Airlines sent a video to the factory in 2014, expressing disappointment and concerns about delays and flaws in Dreamliners assembled there. The Times noted that the airline subsequently only purchased Dreamliners assembled in Boeing’s Everett, Washington factory.

The Times pointed out that, while there were many incidents of loose debris on Dreamliners from the North Charleston factory, the planes continue to have an excellent safety record, and none of the incidents appear to have caused any actual major safety problems.

Read the full report at The New York Times»

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