I've seen many articles on the internet (here, here & here) claiming that Boeing used a team of ferrets to run cables through hard to reach areas when building aeroplanes, but I've never seen any official sources to back these claims.

Is there any truth to this, or are they just baseless internet rumours?

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    $\begingroup$ Surely you jest @Sam, everyone knows the internet is the golden source of ultimate truth! $\endgroup$ – GdD Nov 8 '19 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ Using a cute rodent-like animal to do actually-useful work by running wires through tight spots in a jumbo aircraft is literally YouTube-viral material. They'd be crazy not to farm the upvotes, given the recent ongoing troubles /s $\endgroup$ – aerobot Nov 8 '19 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ Imagine all of the interesting places service crews would find corrosion from rodent urine. Maybe a few extra wire bundles that always seem to lead to ferret skeletons. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 9 '19 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ One answer below mentions defects. To that one might add defecation. Somebody is clearly taking the p... $\endgroup$ – Guy Inchbald Oct 25 '20 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ In my best Cliff Clavin voice: Actually, the ferret isn't a rodent. They are members of the weasel family, and they are predators that eat rodents. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Nov 5 '20 at 16:52

No, Boeing didn't do that.

I asked their assembly plant tour to confirm or deny this, when I found a report that around 2010 some visitors heard this from a tour guide. On 2020 Nov 3 they replied:

Thank you for contacting us with your inquiry. This is a popular urban myth, there are no records or any other evidence that this was done at Boeing.
Thank you again for your interest.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you, Camille, for taking the effort and contacting Boeing. Case closed. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Nov 4 '20 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ Well, just keep in mind where the statement came from, and what is their recent track record on... $\endgroup$ – Jpe61 Nov 4 '20 at 16:49
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    $\begingroup$ I don't trust my memory enough to actually answer, but this is triggering a faint recollection from an info board at the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle. Like maybe they tried this for a short time in the old Red Barn plant in the 1920s or 30s? The 1960s is way too recent, and I certainly wouldn't expect a current employee to know historical trivia like this. (If true...) $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Nov 5 '20 at 16:53

That's a clever idea... No, they won't do that Too many accidents, defect in an airplane is from tiny things like a wrong gasket, wrong pipe fitting, small crack that you'd have to take out a microscope to see. There are better tools and ways for doing that.

However, I can not say this isn't an idea somebody has tried, there are some reasonable truth to it... but definitely they won't use this method on the critical part of the airplane

  • $\begingroup$ I mean, it was in the 1960s. I could actually imagine this to be true. $\endgroup$ – Noah Krasser Nov 10 '19 at 10:06
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    $\begingroup$ @NoahKrasser Yes, the ferrets of the 60s where much more trainable than those reluctant and rebellious beasts of today. $\endgroup$ – PerlDuck Nov 10 '19 at 14:56
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    $\begingroup$ Felicia was used as a pipecleaner in the National Accelerator Laboratory history.fnal.gov/felicia.html $\endgroup$ – Owain Nov 16 '19 at 22:39
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    $\begingroup$ I got a Not Found (404) error when I clicked on the link about Felicia the ferret. Here's the archived copy of the page from archive.org. $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Oct 26 '20 at 22:24

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