In the News

10 May 24 10 Comments

I’m away from the cockpit this week, but things keep happening whether I’m here or not, so I’ve put together a roundup of recent news, especially the ever-developing Boeing situation, with an impressive triplet of bad news for the company on the same single Wednesday of this week.

Boeing Parts Shipped With Defects

Santiago Paredes, a whistleblower formerly from the Spirit AeroSystems’ quality inspection team, alleged that plane fuselages regularly left the factory in Wichita with serious defects in an interview with CBS News on Wednesday, such as “missing fasteners, a lot of bent parts, sometimes even missing parts.” Spirit AeroSystems said it “strongly disagree[d]” with the allegations. It is the first time the whistleblower has spoken publicly, previously only being known as “Former Employee 1” in ongoing legal action between shareholders and the company.

737 Skids Off Tarmac In Senegal

An Air Senegal flight left the runway during take-off late on Wednesday night, with flames allegedly engulfing one side of the plane. At least 10 people were injured at Dakar’s Blaise Daigne airport, including the pilot. Emergency services promptly responded, and pictures emerged from the scene showing one side of the plane doused in flame supressant. The plane was chartered from TransAir, but so far the cause is unclear with no comment from either Transair or Boeing.

Shared on Aviation Safety twitter without attribution

FedEx Flight Lands With No Nose Gear

A cargo flight for FedEx, flying from Paris to Istanbul, made headlines when this video circulated online of the Boeing 767 landing at Istanbul without a nose gear on Wednesday – initial reports suggested the gear failed to deploy, though cause is unclear. There was no one injured, and crew were evacuated safely, according to Turkey’s transportation ministry.

Bulgarian Navy Returns Lost Neptune P-2

Amazingly, a lost naval Neptune P-2, designated 2-P-103 from Argentina was returned to them when the Bulgarian Navy discovered it in Antartica a few months ago. The flight was lost with all hands in 1976 while performing reconnaissance in difficult weather over the stretch of ocean water between Argentina’s southern coast and the South Shetland Islands, Drake’s Passage. It was allegedly identified by the “Sun of May” (Sol de Mayo) imagery on recovered fragments, a national symbol of Argentina and Uruguay.

Image courtesy of the Argentine Navy Press Office

101-year-old Passenger Mistaken for Baby

A passenger with American Airlines has repeatedly been mistaken for a one-year-old child due to a system error, where the system assumes her birth year was 2022 rather then 1922. Patricia, the passenger, is in good humour about it, but notes that it causes her and her daughter real issues while travelling due to flight crew and airport staff being unprepared for her, presuming she would instead be a 2 year old baby. American Airlines did not comment, but Patricia noted that staff had always been kind and helpful to her despite the confusion.

I hope you have a good weekend and I’m looking forward to a return to manual piloting next week!

Category: Miscellaneous,


  • Great little bits.

    But regarding the “Boeing parts with defects”: I cannot believe that these faults would not have been rectified before, or during final assembly.

    There have been serious quality control issues that have seriously damaged the reputation of Boeing. But this seems to go beyond what can be accepted as true.
    Is this a case of “Boeing-bashing”?

    If this proves to be true, well: “If it’s a Boeing, I ain’t be going”!

    • Well, there is definitely some Boeing bashing going on, in that flight issues that would normally not see mainstream news — or if they did, it would name the airline — now are headlined with Boeing. The result is that the travelling public sees what seems to be a huge increase in Boeing incidents, beyond their current issues. As to the whistleblower (and the loss of two whistleblowers!) that does remain to be seen.

      • There may be some Boeing bashing going on, but if the cap fits…
        …it probably wasn’t installed by Boeing.


      Santiago Paredes who worked for Spirit AeroSystems in Kansas, told the BBC he often found up to 200 defects on parts being readied for shipping to Boeing.

      He was accustomed to finding “anywhere from 50 to 100, 200” defects on fuselages – the main body of the plane – that were due to be shipped to Boeing, he said.

      “I was finding a lot of missing fasteners, a lot of bent parts, sometimes even missing parts.”

      Boeing’s 787 “Dreamliner” is manufactured far from the company’s Seattle facility, in a non-union shop in Charleston, South Carolina. At that shop, there is a cage full of defective parts that have been pulled from production because they are not airworthy.

      Hundreds of parts from that Material Review Segregation Area (MRSA) were secretly pulled from that cage and installed on aircraft that are currently plying the world’s skies. Among them, sections 47/48 of a 787 – the last four rows of the plane, along with its galley and rear toilets.

      The lawsuit is still pending. But we know from the door plug blowout that, while some faults do get rectified before the aircraft leaves Boeing, this out-of-sequence work can introduce other defects with severe consequences (aka the door plug departing the aircraft mid-flight).

    • For years (decades?), outsiders and ex-Boeing people have been saying that Boeing-the-company may have taken over McDonnellDouglas-the-company, but MD management took over Boeing. There were stories about management pushing quantity over quality long before MCAS blew up. Some of the recent changes at the top may fix this — or may not.

  • I remember the many many happy hours my colleagues and I worked to assure that user-facing applications — especially old creakers like AA’s registration system — would distinguish 20xx years from 19xx years. We called it the “Y2K remediation project” and assured everyone that the world would not end at midnight on Dec. 31, 1999. And it didn’t.

    Not one of us ever stopped to ask “What if someone lives to be over 100 years old?” Sorry, Patricia.

    Seriously, though, the AA flight reservation system is old enough to be one of the programs that stored years as two decimal digits. The fixes applied to survive the turn of the century involved sliding date windows, century tags, etc. and did NOT include storing all the years as four digits. So Alice’s age problem is basically a Y2K bug.

    I’m sure that that reservation system is so patched and so brittle that the simplest solution for AA will be to apply a special-needs accommodation tag to Alice.

  • The FedEx 767 that landed nose gear up is -10 years old. The Air Senegal 737 that left the runway is ~30 years old. They’re unlikely to be affected by Boeing’s recent manufacturing problems.

    The Air Senegal flight may be interesting because it was actually already the second take-off attempt that led to the fire:

    Ibrahim Diallo, 20, a Malian citizen aboard of the flight, said the plane had attempted to take off earlier that night but failed.

    “The pilot told us everything was under control and that we’re going to try to take off again,” he told the AP. “The second time, smoke started coming from one of the wings.”

    The preliminary report should be more instructive.

  • There was an accident while Sylvia was in Iceland that caught my attention.

    A LATAM Chile Boeing 787-9, registration CC-BGG performing flight LA-800 from Sydney,NS (Australia) to Auckland (New Zealand) with 263 passengers and 9 crew, was enroute at FL410 over the Tasman Sea when the aircraft encountered an upset causing injuries to 12 people on board. The aircraft continued to Auckland for a landing without further incident. […]

    Passengers reported the aircraft encountered a sudden dive causing passengers to feel weightless and everything not fastened to hit the cabin ceiling about 50 minutes before landing, [..]. The captain later said they had briefly lost their instrumentation, then it came back all of the sudden.


    The sudden dive is reminiscent of the MCAS accidents. It seems to be established that a flight attendant accidentally hit a switch that caused one of the pilots’ seats to move forward, which would have pushed the pilot into the control column. It is unclear whether that caused the upset, or was a result of it.

  • “a lost naval Neptune P-2, designated 2-P-103 from Argentina was returned to them when the Bulgarian Navy discovered it in Antartica a few months ago”

    The Bulgarian Navy. In Antartica?

    • Bulgaria has built their first base in Antarctica in 1988, on Livingston Island. Search for “St. Kliment Ohridski Base”.

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