Boeing falsified records for 787 jet sold to Air Canada. It developed a fuel leak

by Katie Nicholson · CBC News

Air Canada said only 1 plane affected and Boeing said ‘immediate corrective action was initiated’

Boeing staff falsified records for a 787 jet built for Air Canada which developed a fuel leak ten months into service in 2015.

In a statement to CBC News, Boeing said it self-disclosed the problem to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration after Air Canada notified them of the fuel leak.

The records stated that manufacturing work had been completed when it had not.

Boeing said an audit concluded it was an isolated event and “immediate corrective action was initiated for both the Boeing mechanic and the Boeing inspector involved.”

Boeing is under increasing scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad following two deadly crashes that claimed 346 lives and the global grounding of its 737 Max jets.

On the latest revelations related to falsifying records for the Air Canada jet, Mike Doiron of Moncton-based Doiron Aviation Consulting said: “Any falsification of those documents which could basically cover up a safety issue is a major problem.”

In the aviation industry, these sorts of documents are crucial for ensuring the safety of aircraft and the passengers onboard, he said.

‘Never a good scenario’

Doiron said even small fuel leaks are dangerous.

The temperature on the internal parts of an aircraft’s turbine engine can reach around 700 degrees.

With such high temperatures, it doesn’t take much for a flammable liquid like fuel to be ignited if there is a leak around the engine, Doiron said.

“It’s never, never a good scenario,” he said of the leak.

Air Canada said it inspected the rest of its 787 jets and did not find any other fuel leak issues.

“All of our aircraft are subject to regular and thorough inspections and we maintain them in full accordance with all manufacturer and regulatory directives,” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email to CBC News.

Air Canada introduced the 787 Dreamliner to its fleet five years ago.  According to its corporate website, it has 35 787s in its fleet.

WestJet also has two different Dreamliner models in its fleet which it introduced in February.  It said it has full confidence in the safety of those aircraft.

Transport Canada evaluation

In 2015, Boeing paid the FAA $12 million US to settle ongoing investigations.  As a part of the five-year agreement, Boeing agreed to work with the agency to address safety oversight issues within the company.

That agreement details an “obscure program” that delegates some safety checks to Boeing itself, said Michael Laris, a Washington Post reporter who has looked into many of Boeing’s safety issues that prompted the agreement with the FAA.

After the devastating 737 Max crashes, Laris said questions are being raised about the effectiveness of Boeing’s oversight program.

“Just how much authority should be delegated to the company? Just how independent are the Boeing employees and their managers?”

Laris started digging into that agreement, and the investigations that prompted it, hoping to learn more about how the 737 Max was approved to fly.

The FAA said it closely monitors and evaluates Boeing’s performance under the 2015 settlement agreement but cannot discuss it.

Boeing said it has introduced formal training for staff on personal accountability in the manufacturing process which emphasizes why it is important to comply with regulations.

Transport Canada said the incident involving falsified documents fell under the jurisdiction of the FAA.

Transport Canada said it is evaluating how all of this new information emerging about Boeing will impact ongoing aircraft safety validation efforts.

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