This quote is also from my first report to the FAA local MIDO office, when I was naive and chose not to believe all those press reports about the FAA being the "handmaiden of the aviation industry" and a "tombstone agency." This quote is from the section of my report noted in the first quote below that I deleted to make that quote shorter and I stated that I may quote later. This quote from that section details my history as an inspector at Boeing, and some of the other corrupt Boeing QA supervisors I've worked for over the years:
When I heard that the Company was hiring inspectors, I volunteered for transfer. I thought that the Company needed more competent inspectors from what I had experienced on the door crew. I also liked the idea of being a grade six, instead of a grade four, on the pay scale. I also liked the idea of getting away from breathing in aluminum dust when I trimmed the PEDs, and away from lifting 100 LB slide packs and slide simulator tools, as I had been experiencing some back pain occasionally after lifting them. Plus, I had always been good at reading drawings. I had been thinking about being an engineer when Boeing had hired me as a mechanic in 1987. I had taken a quarter or trimester (I don’t remember which) of engineering related courses, including engineering graphics and Calculus, at Highline Community College prior to being hired at Boeing. When other mechanics seemed to have trouble interpreting drawings, and some never bothered interpreting them at all, I had no trouble with them and referred to them when necessary in my builds to ensure what I built was per the drawing, as I knew our inspectors on the Door Crew would not.
My requested transfer was approved and I went to approximately three weeks of inspection training classes. The classes were refreshing. They confirmed what I had long believed about inspection at Boeing, but had seen very little of. The instructors never once confirmed through their teachings that the incompetence and carelessness of the importance of their work of my Door Crew inspectors was the way inspection was to be done at the Boeing Company. Quite the contrary. The number of courses and the detailed instruction confirmed what I had long hoped to be true: The inspector’s function at Boeing was important, so much so that three weeks of detailed courses were necessary to prepare the new inspector for his essential job function. The only negative thing I had heard in my classes that said anything other than to do our jobs by the book was in one class where the teacher, a former inspector, had recommended that we not write a discrepancy up if the rework would cause more damage than the original discrepancy had. I could think of no such situation given competent mechanics to perform the rework so I ignored that advice.
At the end of classes I was assigned to the 777 Body Structures area as an inspector. It was not the area I had hoped to get, but I was O.K. with it. I was a Boeing Quality Assurance Inspector after all, even if the installations in the area were only simple basic and secondary structure installations and you couldn’t hear yourself think due to all of the rivet gun noise. I had hoped for an assignment further down the production line where there were more complex installations. My preference was to be a Door Crew inspector, but I was told they usually didn’t put you in the same area that you came from.
I don’t remember if it was my first day as a Body Structures inspector, or not, but I believe it was close to my first day. I had logged in on a "job complete" inspection on the (electronic) call sheet...on a skin lap job on a body structure section. This job was huge. There were, I think, several hundreds or even thousands of rivets (mostly) on this major job. I believe there were some Hi-Loks on the job. I knew Hi-Loks well, as I had installed many of them myself, but rivets were another story. I knew very little about solid rivet installation, and that was pretty much all this job did. I pulled all of the drawings for the job, and went through the plan. I read the specifications I didn’t know that had to do with the job. I went to the tool room to get the correct rivet gages in case I needed them, which I hoped I didn‘t. After all, these were probably very experienced structure mechanics (certainly more experienced at their jobs than I was at mine at that point) that had done the job, and I would just be able to eyeball all of these rivets with my "calibrated eyes" as they all would likely be installed correctly. I went out with my drawings and blank pickup forms and began to inspect the skin lap job.
I couldn’t believe all of the defects that I found on that job! Oh well, I thought, I had to do my job regardless of the number or extent of defects, as I was taught in class, for the most part, so I documented everything I found. At the end of the inspection I had several pages of pickup items written on the one job. I don’t remember the exact number of pages, but it seemed to be a huge amount to me, the new inspector. I hoped that that job was an aberration, and the number of pickup items was only due to the workmanship of the mechanics involved, and I would not have to write so many pickups on every similar sized job all of the time if more skilled mechanics had done the work. I was glad my QA manager obviously knew I was new at this so that they would allow me the extra time that it had taken me to document those defects than it would take a more experienced inspector that had inspected that job before.
I believe it was the next day when I got a transfer notice that I was being reassigned to the 777 Wing Stub Body Join area.
The Last Inspector