Boeing Responds To ‘Inaccurate’ 787 Claims

Boeing has slammed a report released earlier this week from the New York Times, that suggests quality control problems with their 787 Dreamliner program.

The report had claimed that Boeing customers, such as Qatar, had rejected aircraft from a specific Boeing production facility. Internal documents showed them unhappy with the 787’s exterior and discovery of metal shavings throughout the aircraft.

Boeing has since released a full response letter, rebutting and breaking down the New York Times article line by line.

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Source: Wikimedia

This article contains unproven conjecture, rumors and other items that might be biased. As such, we suggest any readers treat this as a summary of the topic and make their own conclusions.

What was in the report?

The New York Times report, which was published a few days ago and released widely, had some very large speculative claims. The report used evidence such as internal Boeing emails, memos, records and also interviewed former staff. It said it had, in addition, one or two whistleblowers who were currently working on the 787 production floor.

These employees corroborated a story that Boeing placed pressure on them to rush out Boeing 787’s at an alarming rate, ignoring quality issues and defects with various components. Some of these problems included faulty wiring, metal shavings and even tools left behind onboard aircraft.

China Southern Boeing 787 Dreamliner Guangzhou
China Southern Boeing 787 takes off from Guangzhou (CAN). Photo by Boeing.

With the pressure on Boeing following the 737 MAX disasters, they cannot afford extra scrutiny to be placed on the rest of their catalog. But this report has made many begin to wonder if Boeing’s product problems are not just limited to one family of aircraft.

But these problems do seem to be limited to one site, specifically the Boeing factory in Charleston, South Carolina. Boeing customer Qatar is reportedly not happy with the 787s being built there and has requested only to be supplied with those made back in Washington state.

Boeing 787
An American Airlines 787 Dreamliner. Source: Wikimedia

What was Boeing’s letter?

Boeing has been quick to hit back the report with a company-wide letter, addressed to the workers of the South Carolina facility by Brad Zaback, Vice President and general manager of the Boeing 787 Program.

“A story that posted in today’s New York Times, however, paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and of our team here at Boeing South Carolina. This article features distorted information, rehashing old stories and rumors that have long ago been put to rest.”

The letter opens with praise for the workers, stating that Boeing is more than happy with the quality of aircraft they are producing. From there it devolves into a scathing rebuttal against the claims made by the New York Times.

“I want all BSC teammates to know that we invited the New York Times to visit Boeing South Carolina once they contacted us, so that they could see first-hand the great work that is done here. They declined this invitation.”

The letter claims that the New York Times was invited to the facility during the research for the article (and when they asked Boeing for comment) but declined to come themselves. Whether this is evidence of bias remains to be seen.

Boeing Responds To ‘Inaccurate’ 787 Claims
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner “soaks” in minus 45 degree temperatures inside the McKinley Climatic Lab April 22, 2010, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Source: Wikimedia

The letter closed off with quotes from different Boeing customers, such as Qatar and Norwegian, who have been very satisfied by the quality of the 787 product.

“We are very satisfied with the quality and reliability of all our 33 Dreamliners, regardless of where they have been assembled.” – Norwegian Airways response published in the letter.

You can read the whole letter here.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.