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News
Boeing probes sabotage
June 7, 2001: 3:50 p.m. ET

Aircraft maker says intentional wire damage found on seven 737 jets
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RENTON, Wash. (CNN) - Boeing Co. inspectors have discovered intentional wire damage on at least seven Boeing 737s at a company assembly plant in Renton, Wash., the company confirmed to CNN Thursday.

The damage was found during routine service testing over the past two weeks. Boeing says it notified the FAA of the sabotage Tuesday. The company also said an additional three aircraft also may have had sabotaged wiring, but evidence is not conclusive.

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A 737 jet is assembled at the Boeing plant in Renton, Wash. The company is investigating sabotage of wiring on 7 jets under construction there.
There are no suspects at this time.

"No airplane is delivered until it has met rigorous testing starting with Boeing, the FAA, and the airlines," spokesman Sandy Angers told CNN. "The fact that we found the damaged wires proves our quality system works."

The Federal Aviation Administration said it is looking into the matter, but could not elaborate on details. The agency recently referred the case to the FBI, which is the only law enforcement agency working on the case. The FBI did not comment on possible suspects or motives, saying only it has just started investigating.  

Boeing (BA: down $0.22 to $65.88, Research, Estimates) employs about 12,000 people at the Renton plant, where the narrow-body 737 jet is assembled along with the 757, another narrow-body jet, and the Boeing business jet. It makes about 24 of the 737 jets a month.

The world's largest aircraft manufacturer announced in March that some of the 757 assembly work now done in the Renton plant would be shifted to its plant in Wichita, Kan., although the fuselages of the planes will still be shipped by rail from Wichita back to Renton for final assembly.

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About 500 workers at the Renton plant are affected by the shift of work, which is to take place over the next two to three years, although the company said all the employees would be shifted to other jobs with the company and there would be no layoffs as a result of the shift.

The company is cutting jobs in the area, though, as it shifts its corporate headquarters to Chicago this summer. About half of the 1,000-person corporate staff will be cut in the move, with the other half relocating. That move shook the Seattle area, which has been associated with the company since its founding.

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Last year the company saw a surprisingly bitter strike by the engineering and technical workers who inspect aircraft during and at the end of the assembly process. The strike, the first by the union to last more than a day, won support of many employees who performed the same jobs but did not belong to the union. graphic


CNNfn's Chris Isidore contributed to this report

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