CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Boeing officials have released a statement in connection to a lawsuit claiming a former flight line worker at the company’s North Charleston plant was fired after supervisors lied about a bird strike during a test flight.
Richard Mester filed a lawsuit against the company, and said in court documents he was put on paid leave in 2018 pending an investigation into a bird strike involving a 787 plane. That plane was in a test flight and was going to be delivered to United Airlines.
Mester claimed in the suit that he was involved in inspecting the plane after the second test flight, watched both engines shut down, and saw no evidence of a bird strike on the exterior of the plane. According to the lawsuit, the Federal Aviation Administration found that a bird strike never happened and that the only employees disciplined for the alleged bird strike were union supporters.
On Monday, Boeing released a statement saying that there was indeed a bird strike with the body of the animal recovered.
“In fact, Mester’s teammate, who has self-identified as the president of the local IAM union, personally collected and bagged the bird strike evidence, including blood and feathers,” Boeing officials said on Monday. “The FAA has since analyzed that evidence and confirmed that, in fact, it was a bird that struck the engine; they were even able to determine the type of bird involved. These findings are publicly available on the FAA’s National Wildlife Strike Database.”
Following the investigation, Mester claims he was fired on Nov. 29, 2018, and an appeal was denied on Dec. 6.
Mester came forward as a whistleblower in a New York Times article and later in an interview with CBS News about issues at the plant in North Charleston concerning parts left inside planes.
According to Boeing officials, Mester and two other teammates were terminated for failing to properly inspect and document a bird strike following a test flight as required by the FAA.