Boeing facing fresh probe after employees 'falsely claim tests had been completed'

Federal air safety regulators have opened a fresh investigation into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner - after the firm said several employees had committed "misconduct" by falsely claiming tests had been completed.

The probe will look into whether Boeing completed inspections to confirm adequate bonding and grounding where the wings of certain 787 Dreamliner planes join the fuselage, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

The investigation will also look at "whether company employees may have falsified aircraft records", the US federal government agency added.

The FAA said Boeing is "reinspecting all 787 airplanes still within the production system and must also create a plan to address the in-service fleet" while the investigation is taking place.

Boeing shares were down 1.5% at $177.03 late on Monday afternoon.

'Several people not performing required test'

In an email from 29 April, Scott Stocker, who leads Boeing's 787 program, said that an employee saw what appeared to be an irregularity in a required 787 conformance test.

Mr Stocker wrote that after receiving the report "we quickly reviewed the matter and learned that several people had been violating company policies by not performing a required test, but recording the work as having been completed".

In the email, addressed to employees in South Carolina where the 787 is assembled, Mr Stocker said Boeing promptly informed the FAA about what it had learned and said it is taking serious corrective action with "multiple" employees.

He added that "our engineering team has assessed that this misconduct did not create an immediate safety of flight issue".

'They are putting out defective airplanes'

It comes weeks after a Congressional investigation in April heard evidence on the safety culture and manufacturing standards at Boeing.

Sam Salehpour, a quality engineer at the company, told members of a Senate subcommittee that Boeing was taking shortcuts to bolster production levels that could lead to jetliners breaking apart.

He said of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, which has more than 1,000 in use across airlines globally including at British Airways, that excessive force was used to jam together sections of fuselage.

He claimed the extra force could compromise the carbon-composite material used for the plane's frame.

"They are putting out defective airplanes," he concluded, while adding that he was threatened when he raised concerns about the issue.

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The engineer said he studied Boeing's own data and concluded that the company is "taking manufacturing shortcuts on the 787 programme that could significantly reduce the airplanes' safety and the life cycle".

Boeing denied his claims surrounding both the Dreamliner's structural integrity and that factory workers jumped on sections of fuselage to force them to align.

Two Boeing engineering executives said this week that its testing and inspections regimes have found no signs of fatigue or cracking in the composite panels, saying they were almost impervious to fatigue.

Boeing has been grappling with a months-long safety crisis since a panel blew out of a Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane mid-flight in January.

The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the mid-air emergency.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said four key bolts appeared to be missing from the plane.

Boeing has said it believes required documents detailing the removal of the bolts were never created.