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Chaos at Boeing: Supplier used Vaseline for door seal

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Chaos at Boeing: Supplier used Vaseline for door seal

The Spirit AeroSystems logo is pictured on an unpainted 737 fuselage, during the first day of a “Quality Stand Down” for the 737 program at Boeing’s factory in Renton, Washington, January 25, 2024. Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Boeing supplier Spirit Aero Systems used soap as a lubricant. The supplier described this as innovative.

Aside from the soap, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors allegedly saw Spirit mechanics using a credit card to check a door seal.

Spirit claimed both practices were approved by Boeing and the FAA.

This is a machine translation of an article from our US colleagues at Business Insider. It was automatically translated and checked by a real editor.

A Boeing supplier said it used other household products such as petroleum jelly and cornstarch as lubricants before settling on Dawn liquid soap, the “New York Times(NYT) on Thursday.

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Boeing supplier uses special tools

In March the reported “NOW”Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors saw Spirit Aero Systems mechanics applying soap to a door seal.

The mechanics were also seen using a hotel key card to check a door seal, according to an inspection report obtained by the NYT.

“People look at the hotel key card or the Dawn soap and think it’s sloppy. “In reality, it is an innovative approach to an efficient tool,” Spirit spokesman Joe Buccino told the NYT.

Buccino said Spirit also tried using other household products such as petroleum jelly, cornstarch and talcum powder as lubricants before settling on Dawn liquid soap. Buccino said Dawn soap was the first choice because it didn’t break down the door seal over time.

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Tools have been approved

Spirit told the Times that Boeing had approved both procedures. The company added that the soap and a card-like tool were approved under FAA standards as shop aids, also known as “shop aids.”

The company’s chief technology officer, Sean Black, told the NYT that Spirit came up with the card-like tool after seeing workers using a hotel key card to check for gaps.

“Our employees regularly find creative ways to make the hull construction process more efficient. In this case, they developed the door seal tool that allows our teams to inspect door seals without the risk of the seal being damaged over time,” Black told the magazine.

A Boeing spokesperson confirmed to the NYT that Spirit had indeed approved the use of the soap and tool, while an FAA representative declined the NYT’s request for comment.

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Boeing is currently under pressure

The FAA said the audit was part of its ongoing investigation into Boeing after a door plug exploded on an Alaska Airlines flight in January while the plane was still in the air.

The controversy over Spirit’s unorthodox labor practices comes at a time when the quality of Boeing aircraft is under increased scrutiny. The plane maker has come under the spotlight after repeated quality assurance failures.

On Wednesday, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a statement Senate hearingthat she was considering surveying all Boeing employees about the company’s safety culture.

“I don’t think there’s anyone at Boeing, from Dave Calhoun on down, who doesn’t want to know what happened. They want to know, and they want to fix it, and we are here to help,” said NTSB Chief Jennifer Homendy.

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Representatives from Boeing, Spirit and the FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider outside of regular business hours.

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