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Spirit AeroSystems whistleblower says 737 fuselages sent to Boeing with defects

A former quality manager at Spirit AeroSystems, and now whistleblower, has alleged that 737 MAX fuselages were sent on to Boeing with serious defects.  

Santiago Paredes, who worked for Spirit AeroSystems between 2010 and 2022, told the BBC and CBS News in an exclusive interview that he would find “anywhere from 50 to 100, 200” defects (some more serious than others) on fuselages that were being prepared to be sent to Boeing.  

“I was finding a lot of missing fasteners, a lot of bent parts, sometimes even missing parts,” Paredes said during his interview.  

What’s more Paredes claimed that he felt under pressure to be less thorough with his inspections and even earned the nickname, “showstopper”. 

“They just wanted the product shipped out. They weren’t focused on the consequences of shipping bad fuselages. They were just focused on meeting the quotas, meeting the schedule, meeting the budget… If the numbers looked good, the state of the fuselages didn’t really matter,” Paredes claimed. 

‘Working at Spirit, I almost grew a fear of flying’

Paredes also told CBS that during his time at the Spirit facility in Wichita, Kansas, he often found problems around the same aircraft door plug that was separated from an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 8 jet on January 5, 2024. 

“Working at Spirit, I almost grew a fear of flying. Knowing what I know about the 737, it makes me very uncomfortable when I fly on one of them,” Paredes told NBC.  

In his interview with the BBC, Paredes alleged that Boeing knew Spirit were sending fuselages with defects.   

According to the BBC, Paredes was eventually told by one of his seniors to alter the way he reported defects, thus reducing the overall number.  

After objecting, the former US Air Force airman was demoted and relocated to another area at the factory.  

Paredes was subsequently reinstated after he filed an “ethics complaint” with Spirit, which was partially upheld. 

‘My last cry for help’

Paredes wrote in an email to the Spirit CEO Tom Gentile at the time and said: “I have lost faith on the quality organization here at Spirit and this is my last cry for help.”  

Despite being reinstated to his leadership role Paredes, who now says he is reluctant to fly on a 737 MAX, decided to leave Spirit.  

In a statement Spirit told the BBC that it “strongly disagree[d]” with the allegations while Boeing told CBS that it had long had a team in place that finds and fixes defects in fuselages that arrive from Spirit.  

A spokesperson for Boeing added that since March 2024, engineers for the company have been checking all fuselages at the Spirit factory as they come off the production line.    

Spirit shareholder lawsuit

Paredes’ allegations are part of a lawsuit against Spirit by shareholders in which he claims there were “widespread quality failures” at the company. Spirit told CBS the allegations are “unfounded.” 

Boeing is understood to be in talks to buy back Spirit, which was once part of the same organization. 

Since the Alaska Airlines plug door blowout on January 5, 2024, Boeing and Spirit have both been criticized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

As part of an audit of the two companies following the Alaska accident the FAA said it found “multiple instances where the companies allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements”.   

The plug door on the Alaska Airlines 737-9 was fitted by Spirit but was subsequently removed by Boeing staff during assembly for further maintenance work.  

The post Spirit AeroSystems whistleblower says 737 fuselages sent to Boeing with defects appeared first on AeroTime.

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