FBI to investigate 'damage' at Boeing

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The Independent US

Boeing, the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer, has called in the FBI to investigate possible sabotage of wiring in 10 of its new 737 aircraft.

The damage was discovered before the aircraft ­ the standard workhorse of many short-haul American fleets ­ were delivered to airlines. Boeing has also launched its own internal investigation and stepped up security at its plants, though it has stopped short of saying that the damage was definitely caused deliberately.

Sandy Angers, a spokeswoman for Boeing, said that nothing like that had ever happened before. She said the company would not describe the incidents as "sabotage" unless there was clear evidence. "It's a really strong word and we're saying 'suspicious wire damage'," she said.

Tampering with an aircraft is a crime under US federal law, but whether that law would apply was not clear, because the aircraft were still in the factory at Renton, near the company's Seattle headquarters. Boeing is moving its head office to Chicago later this year, but will retain its manufacturing facilities in Washington State.

A spokesman for the company's biggest trade union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), said it was concerned over the incidents. "Machinist union members at Boeing have always and continue to take great pride in building the highest-quality aircraft in the world," he said.

The 737 is one of Boeing's most popualr models and the company delivered 72 of the aircraft, which seat between 110 and 189 passengers, in the first three months of the year, according to the company spokeswoman. She added that no damage was found in Boeing's 757 models, which are built in Renton and Kansas.

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