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Boeing reports possible falsified records to FAA

The plane manufacturer's problems are already causing ripple effects throughout the travel industry in a time of high demand.
A Boeing ecoDemonstrator Explorer, a 787-10 Dreamliner
Posted at 6:23 PM, May 07, 2024

Yet another federal investigation of Boeing is taking place, after the company itself reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration to report an issue.

The plane manufacturer's problems are already causing ripple effects throughout the travel industry in a time of high demand.

On April 29, Scott Stocker, the lead of Boeing's 787 program, sent an email to employers at the South Carolina assembly plant, saying a worker noticed an irregularity in a test of where the wing meets the plane body.

After receiving that report, management looked into it and noticed several people had failed to perform a required test. Boeing then alerted the FAA.

In the email, Stocker said, "We have zero tolerance for not following processes designed to ensure quality and safety," adding that the company is taking what it calls "swift and serious corrective action."

In a statement, the FAA told Scripps News the agency is investigating whether workers may have falsified aircraft records.

The FAA also says Boeing is reinspecting the 787's in production and has to come up with a plan to look at planes already in the air.

So far, 787 production is continuing as usual and no planes have been taken out of service.

Chris Dane is the president of Hickory Global Partners and an aerospace expert with 50 years of experience in the industry. He says that while this latest incident, paired with whistleblower testimony in April regarding another alleged quality control issue with the 787, can be concerning, the airplane has had a strong safety record since its release in 2011 and the alert to the FAA shows leadership is trying to course-correct from the quality control issues plaguing the company since the Jan. 5 door plug blow-out.

Boeing employees raise up their camera phones to record the first test flight of the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

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"I think they will ultimately get it right and they're under a lot of pressure to get it right," Dane said.

However, Boeing's quality issues with its 737 Max and its regulator-forced slowdown of production is hamstringing the commercial air travel industry at a time when it should be booming.

Dane says that travel demand is 6%-7% higher than last year, which was also a banner year. He says post-pandemic, consumers have been prioritizing travel to a point where people will make cuts in their household budgets to afford trips.

But with Boeing's aircraft delivery down, airlines are cutting crew hours and raising prices.

"When you have not enough airplanes to meet the demand, only one thing can happen and that's prices have to go up, ultimately," said Dane.

Southwest recently announced that instead of the 46 new planes it was expecting from Boeing, they are only receiving 20. The carrier is pulling out of four regional airports as its planned growth is stymied.

Dane says for travelers who want to avoid the schedule headaches and higher prices, think traveling locally or booking trips during unpopular times, like the fall.

"Try to be flexible in your travel plans. Try to pick alternative destinations," he said.