Boeing Whistleblower Reportedly Claims 787 Planes Could Break Apart Mid-Air Due to Construction Flaws

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the manufacturer after Sam Salehpour, a Boeing engineer of more than 10 years, spoke out

<p>Getty</p> Boeing 787 Dreamliner


Boeing 787 Dreamliner

A Boeing engineer is speaking out about safety concerns regarding the 787 Dreamliner and what he claims are improper manufacturing practices.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating allegations made by engineer Sam Salehpour in firsthand accounts of working on the planes, the New York Times reports. Salehpour claims, among other issues, that the fuselage is put together improperly and has the potential to come apart mid-air after an aircraft has made numerous trips.

He claims this would potentially occur after "thousands of flights." The typical commercial aircraft can be in service for up to 20 or 30 years, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

According to the outlet, Salehpour said that “the problems stemmed from changes in how the enormous sections were fitted and fastened together in the assembly line.” He added that the components of the fuselage all come from different manufacturers and are not all the same shape.

Boeing responded to that statement, confirming that the pieces do come from different makers, but claiming that this doesn't affect the durability of the planes.

Paul Lewis, a spokesman for Boeing, told the Times the manufacturer is undergoing complex testing to "determine if there may be a long-term fatigue concern" for the aircraft, but says there is no "immediate safety of flight issue."

Related: Engine Cover Dramatically Rips Off Southwest Airlines Plane During Takeoff in Denver

<p>Stephen Brashear/Getty</p> Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Stephen Brashear/Getty

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Salehpour, a Boeing employee of more than ten years, alleged that he was “retaliated against” when he attempted to raise his concerns over what he perceived as manufacturing flaws to Boeing.

In a statement to PEOPLE a spokesperson for the FAA said, “Voluntary reporting without fear of reprisal is a critical component in aviation safety.  We strongly encourage everyone in the aviation industry to share information. We thoroughly investigate all reports.”

Debra Katz, Salehpour’s lawyer, tells PEOPLE, "We are proud to represent our client, Sam Salehpour, who bravely came forward to blow the whistle about safety concerns about the structural integrity of Boeing’s 787 and 777 planes which impact the entire aviation industry."

"Endemic at Boeing is a culture where whistleblowers are retaliated against and sidelined," Katz continues. "Despite repeated attempts to force our client to remain silent, he has continued to raise issues both internally with the federal regulators, and now with the public."

Related: Boeing Advises Airlines to Inspect 787 Cockpit Seats After Cause of LATAM Airlines’ Mid-Air Drop Is Revealed

PEOPLE also reached out to Boeing for comment but has not yet received a response.

The new allegations against Boeing come after a string of serious incidents put the company's safety measures into question. In January, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 had a plug door — part of its fuselage — blow out mid-air on its way to Ontario, Calif. from Portland, Ore.

Passengers captured videos and photos of the gaping hole looking out towards the open sky as they waited for the Boeing 737-9 aircraft to turn back to Portland and safely land. Several passengers are now suing the airline and Boeing.

Since then, United Airlines has also experienced a number of mishaps involving Boeing aircrafts. In March, the airline had five incidents recorded in one week alone.

Related: Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun Will Step Down Following a Series of Safety Issues 

<p>NTSB via Getty; Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto via Getty</p> Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 (left) and Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun (right).

NTSB via Getty; Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto via Getty

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 (left) and Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun (right).

Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, announced in March that he was officially stepping down from his position at the end of 2024. In his message to employees he addressed January’s Alaska Airlines incident and referred to it as a “watershed” moment for the company.

“We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency. We also must inculcate a total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company,” he said.

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Calhoun continued, “I have been considering for some time, in discussion with our board of directors, the right time for a CEO transition at Boeing. I want to share with you that I have decided this will be my last year as CEO of our great company, and I have notified the board of that decision.”

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