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Boeing whistleblower steps forward ahead of CEOs testimony in Washington, senator says


(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office on Tuesday said a current Boeing employee has come forward as a whistleblower, an announcement that comes hours before the airplane manufacturer’s chief executive is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill.

The senator’s office identified the employee as Sam Mohawk, a quality assurance inspector for Boeing in Renton, Washington.

Mohawk alleges that Boeing is cutting corners by losing track of parts that have been labeled as non-conforming or not up to design standards, according to Blumenthal. Sometimes these parts get a second chance because they can be fixed or were mislabeled, but often they should be discarded. Still, the parts sometimes end up in newly built airplanes, Mohawk said, according to the senator.

“He said that he has been told by his supervisors to conceal this evidence from the FAA, and that he is being retaliated against as well,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

A Boeing spokesperson said the company had received on Monday evening the documents supplied to Blumenthal by the whistleblower. The company is reviewing the claims now, the spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“We continuously encourage employees to report all concerns as our priority is to ensure the safety of our airplanes and the flying public,” the spokesperson said.

The latest whistleblower is stepping forward as Boeing CEO David Calhoun prepares to sit for a Senate hearing on his company’s “broken safety culture” on Tuesday afternoon. Previous whistleblowers have accused the Arlington, Virginia-headquartered company of cutting corners on safety practices as it builds aircraft.

Blumenthal in his opening statement during Tuesday’s hearing is expected to press Calhoun on whether the executive has made progress turning the company around.

The senator will mention the incident in January when a door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 shortly after takeoff. He’ll say that the “façade quite literally blew off the hollow shell that had been Boeing’s promises to the world,” according to excerpts of his prepared remarks viewed by ABC News.

“Mr. Calhoun, you were brought in turn this company around,” Blumenthal is expected to say, according to his prepared remarks. “But instead of asking what has caused Boeing’s safety culture to erode, you and your colleagues in the C-suite have deflected blame, looked the other way, and catered to your shareholders instead.”

Calhoun in January said Boeing was “accountable for what happened” during the Alaska flight.

“Whatever the specific cause of the accident might turn out to be, an event like this must simply not happen on an airplane that leaves one of our factories,” he said at the time. “We simply must be better. Our customers deserve better.”

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