This article first appeared at Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
Boeing plans to cautiously restart the CH-47 Chinook helicopter production line May 15, after shutting it down May 13 following the discovery of what the company is calling irregularities in two aircraft.
Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), whose district includes the Chinook plant, said he learned of severed wires on one of the CH-47s and a suspicious washer in a subsystem of the second aircraft. "After having several briefings [on the matter], I think there's a low probability this wasn't deliberate," Sestak said. "But it's not out of the question that it's the result of an accident."
Operations were suspended on the primary and final assembly segments of the line, and the investigation is focusing on subassemblies and structure modifications, according to Boeing officials (Aerospace DAILY, May 14). Second- and third-shift workers discovered the problems May 13 and helped inspect the additional helicopters on the line to determine if the irregularities were more widespread. The other six helicopters did not appear to have any problems.
Company procedure requires any issues to be reported to the Defense Contract Management Agency, which has numerous representatives placed on-site. The agency then passes its findings on to the Defense Criminal Investigation Service, which, despite its name, does not imply criminal activity, a Boeing official said. "But that has yet to be determined," the official said.
"They found it like they should have found it," Sestak told Aerospace DAILY. "The system worked. Now we have to figure out how and why it happened."