The US Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed it has launched a probe into new allegations raised by whistleblower Sam Salehpour, a current Boeing engineer, about alleged quality issues with B777 and B787 fuselages. While the manufacturer has denied Salehpour's claims, it will have to go before a US Senate inquest later this month.

As reported by The New York Times and later confirmed by Salehpour himself during a media briefing, he alerted the authorities about quality issues related to gaps between various sections of the B787 fuselages. Panels supplied by various firms reportedly fit poorly together.

"I literally saw people jumping on the pieces of the airplane to get them to align. By jumping up and down, you're deforming parts so that the holes align temporarily, and that's not how you build an airplane," Salehpour said during the briefing, as quoted by CNN.

Boeing suspended B787 deliveries for 14 months in 2021-2022 after inspections revealed gaps between fuselage panels. The FAA authorised deliveries to resume in August 2022 with Boeing stating it had "incorporated the join inspection and verification activity into our production system so that airplanes coming off of the production line meet these specifications".

Salehpour said that after he raised the issues internally at Boeing, he was moved from the B787 to the B777 production line. There, he says he discovered other safety issues related to the type's questionable engineering and missing inspections. In sum, he alleges the lifespan of more than 400 B777s and around 1,000 B787s could be affected. Salehpour's attorneys indicated the sub-par lifespan of the aircraft could ultimately lead to a "catastrophic failure".

Boeing called the allegations "inaccurate" and said they do not represent "the comprehensive work Boeing has done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft". Spokesman Paul Lewis added that studies are ongoing into potential long-term fatigue concerns. "This would not become an issue for the in-service fleet for many years to come, if ever, and we are not rushing the team so that we can ensure that analysis is comprehensive," he said.

Boeing will not be able to ignore the allegations, as the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has already planned hearings with chief executive Dave Calhoun and Salehpour for April 17.

"We want to provide Boeing the opportunity to explain to the American people why, in light of recent apparent safety failures, the public should feel confident in Boeing's engineering and assembly processes. Boeing must identify the extent to which aircraft safety was compromised, how it occurred, and detail the steps it will take to prevent it from happening again," chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and ranking member Ron Johnson (R-WI) wrote in a letter to Calhoun.