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Boeing executive defends 787 site after quality oversight report

A top Boeing executive has fired back at a recent New York Times article painting the airframer’s North Charleston 787 production site as suffering from quality oversights.

The 20 April article, based on company documents and interviews with more than a dozen former and current employees, describes the North Charleston site as having an atmosphere where employees faced pressure to complete aircraft at the expense of quality.

It describes alleged safety issues, including potentially dangerous manufacturing errors and recurring problems with “foreign object debris” found in delivered 787s.

Following publication of the article, Boeing’s 787 vice-president and site leader Brad Zaback defends the North Charleston facility and called the Times article “skewed and inaccurate”.

“The allegations of poor quality are especially offensive to me because I know the pride in workmanship that each of you pours into your work every day,” Zaback writes in a letter to employees. “I see the highest quality airplanes – airplanes that meet rigorous quality inspections and FAA standards – deliver on time on a regular basis from Boeing South Carolina, where they perform exceptionally well in service for our valued airplane customers around the world.”

Zaback calls the Times article “offensive” and “misleading”, saying it describes an environment “counter to our company’s core values”.

“Quality is the bedrock of who we are,” he writes.

The latest media attention comes as Boeing faces major battles on two other fronts. The company is working to get its 737 Max back in the skies following two fatal crashes and a global grounding that have raised questions about the safety of the aircraft’s design and sparked investigations.

In early April, the US Air Force suspended deliveries of KC-46A Pegasus tankers for a second time on roughly one month after discovering foreign object debris in those aircraft.

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