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‘Fired after complaining about poor repair work on Boeing 787 jets’, claims whistleblower


Another whistleblower has come forward on Wednesday with allegations that certain components of Boeing‘s 787 Dreamliner aircraft were constructed in an unsafe manner, potentially leading to “devastating consequences.”
Richard Cuevas, a mechanic employed by Strom, a former contractor, has filed complaints with two US agencies, claiming he faced retaliation after raising concerns about potential manufacturing issues on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
According to his attorneys at Katz Banks Kumin, Cuevas was terminated in March 2024 after he brought attention to manufacturing deviations in the forward pressure bulkhead, a crucial component for managing pressure during flights, as per CNN reports.
Who is Richard Cuevas?
Richard Cuevas is the latest in the list of whistleblowers who have come forward from Boeing’s operations, further intensifying the scrutiny faced by the plane manufacturer, in an incident involving a 737 MAX aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines in January, after the plane was forced to make an emergency landing due to an inflight issue.
Cuevas was employed by Strom, a contracting company that assigned him to work at Spirit AeroSystems, the manufacturer responsible for building fuselages for the Dreamliner.
According to CNN, in October 2023, Cuevas submitted a complaint to Boeing, claiming that Spirit had implemented unapproved modifications to the dimensions of fastener holes located in the forward pressure bulkhead of 787 aircraft.
The Boeing initiated an investigation into his concerns in October 2023, notifying Spirit management of the complaints. During this period, Cuevas says a colleague commented, “we’ve got a snitch among us,” and in March, Spirit abruptly terminated his employment.
Katz Banks Kumin said, “Our client witnessed critical issues with the forward pressure bulkhead assembly on multiple planes that deviated from Boeing’s specifications.”
“He recognized the substandard work and expressed concern about his safety concerns, but Spirit and Boeing failed to stop the faulty manufacturing processes. Mr. Cuevas was fired when his manager found out that an employee complained about these issues, and suspected that employee was Mr. Cuevas,” he added.
What issues did Cuevas observe in the Boeing?
Cuevas reported that he observed gaps in the forward pressure bulkheads of two aircraft he helped construct, which could potentially lead to “catastrophe.”
Cuevas witnessed the improper drilling of holes into the forward pressure bulkheads of 787 planes at Spirit’s facility in Wichita, Kansas, during 2023,” which he believes could compromise power and air pressure on the planes, posing a serious safety risk to passengers.
He filed a report with Boeing’s ethics hotline, informing management that he believed Spirit was concealing the issues from Boeing.
Cuevas witnessed these issues with three planes he worked on and believes that these problems may affect at least 10 to 12 planes, either in production or already delivered to Boeing.
In response to the allegations, Boeing has said that they had previously investigated Cuevas’ claims and determined that they did not present a safety issue.
The bulkhead is a critical component of an airplane’s structure, essential for maintaining the aircraft’s integrity while in flight.
What were the previous complaints?
A previous whistleblower, Sam Salehpour, a Boeing engineer, reported similar gaps in 787 and 777 aircraft. The FAA and Boeing suspended deliveries of new Dreamliners for nearly two years starting in 2021 to investigate the gaps.
The same attorneys are also representing Sam who testified before the Senate in April regarding his concerns about the manufacturing practices of the 787 and the retaliation he faced for speaking out.
More than a dozen whistleblowers have come forward against Boeing in recent years, and the number has increased significantly since a door plug blew off a 737 Max plane in January just after takeoff, leaving a large hole in the side of the plane, CNN reported.
Last week, a current Boeing employee claimed that the company attempted to conceal broken or out-of-specification 737 Max plane parts from regulators and lost track of them, fearing that they may have been installed on planes carrying passengers.
What the company said?
The Boeing said, “A subcontractor’s employee previously reported concerns to us that we thoroughly investigated as we take seriously any safety-related matter. Engineering analysis determined that the issues raised did not present a safety concern and were addressed.”
“We are reviewing the documents released today and will thoroughly investigate any new claim,”they added.
company spokesperson Joe Buccino said, Spirit “leadership is aware of the allegations and looking into the matter. We encourage all Spirit employees with concerns to come forward, safe in knowing they will be protected.”
Attorneys representing Cuevas submitted complaints to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in a letter of submission, saying “based on his direct observations of glaring safety issues, that Boeing’s and Spirit’s statements to the public and investors about the safety of 787 Dreamliners are fraudulent.”
The FAA has initiated multiple investigations into Boeing, and the US Department of Justice has stated that it may file criminal charges against the company due to its ongoing quality and safety failures.
“We strongly encourage anyone with safety concerns to report them and we thoroughly investigate every report,” the FAA said.
According to the FAA, it has received a total of 126 such reports in the current year, while only 11 were submitted last year.

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