Vindicated at last! This article by reporter Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times (which is critiqued in detail below) is exactly the fraud that I have been trying to get fixed against corrupt Boeing Management’s interference since early 2002.
Boeing executive management from Chief Counsel Bain (now Luttig) on down to the lowest Boeing QA manager has been complicit with and has zealously protected the ability of Boeing to engage in this lucrative fraud for the last 15 years, when I notified Bain about this QA management driven fraud negating critical quality and safety assurance procedures at Boeing.
This felonious rollerstamping by Boeing QA Inspectors (the job I used to be in at Boeing for almost 10 years) is the key way that corrupt Boeing management smooths production flow, thereby saving many millions of dollars a year. Inspectors are told to not actually do the detailed inspections required of the work mechanics do, and are told by management to just stamp off the legal production records certifying they have done so instead. The few good inspectors left at Boeing like I was still try to inspect the work in violation of this directive by management, even though we never have time to inspect the work to the latest engineering drawing and specifications as required, as taking the time to do so one every inspection as required will get you terminated under the “you are not stamping jobs off as fast as rollerstamping inspector X” management rule.
And if you see something discrepant and write it up on a pickup type nonconformance record or God forbid a rejection tag type nonconformance record (NCR) requiring Engineering disposition you in effect only put a target on your back for QA management. I knew this intimately, because I knew the way we were required to inspect per Boeing/FAA written procedures, and I did engage in the “visual inspection only” type of rollerstamping in order to keep my job, by what I refused to do was to ignore defects I found during inspections of jobs. I wrote them all up as required to ensure they would be fixed before the strut or engine entered service. Of course, this wasn’t anywhere near 100% effective because I wasn’t always the inspector that bought the rework/repair off and rollerstamping inspectors would just stamp it off as done without inspection like everything else, but it was the integrity under which I would not sink.
Consequently, my corrupt QA supervisors would harass me, trying to get anything at all on me so they could fire me, as my write-ups (all legitimate) were only seen as an interference with production and a threat to their jobs as they were judged by the number and type of NCRs written by their inspectors and how well they did what the manufacturing management they are supposed to be independent of told them to do. My typing speed was scrutinized. Rollerstamping inspectors could surf any non-company website they wanted to between inspections, but I would be written up and ultimately terminated if I were to do so. I foiled their attempts at every turn, until they caught me giving the press Boeing internal documents to get this story covered so this Boeing management criminal activity would be investigated and ended before it got more than the minimum 750 people it had killed already killed. Then Boeing Chief Counsel Bain, CEO Jim McNerney, and 787 Program head Mike Bair retaliated against me by trying to put me in prison. Thankfully the full force of Boeing against you still isn’t powerful enough to get you thrown in prison on an inapplicable charge.
I thank Dominic very much, for finally covering this story. We have had our differences in the past (running my story in 2006 just after my arrest would have been much more timely/brave), but late is better than never, even if my story was left out of this story (Cox? Really? I’ve never seen an “expert” so clueless on the subject he was interviewed on).
Now for my commentary on the story itself:
“Documents released to The Seattle Times by the FAA concerning a 2015 settlement with Boeing reveal a pattern of quality issues in aircraft production.”
So did the many documents I gave to the press in May, 2006, but better late than never.
“Though Boeing paid $12 million in late 2015 to settle more than a dozen Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigations, details of the problems found by the safety agency were not disclosed at the time.”
And this article shows why. The reasons behind the fine are truly frightening, but are only a small sample of the serious QA fraud going on to this day at Boeing and suppliers that endanger anyone flying on any resulting largely uninspected and defect riddled Boeing plane in service today.
“Documents…show the cases revealed a disquieting pattern of falsified paperwork and ignored procedures that created quality issues on the production lines of Boeing and its suppliers.”
Disquieting indeed. Falsified airplane manufacturing/inspection records. Yes, that is exactly what results from this rollerstamping fraud directed by Boeing management. Such fraud is a felony, and should result in criminal charges, not just fines.This is the taking and endangerment of peoples’ lives, not just banking fraud taking away peoples’ possessions, as in the 2008 bank fraud generated Great Recession.
“The FAA found that Boeing repeatedly failed to follow protocols designed to guard against production errors that put safety at risk.”
Excellent. Repeatedly is right, as this fraud still happens hundreds or thousands of times each day in Boeing and supplier factories. And it does place millions of people at risk of the most horrific death possible (and not always a quick one, as with JAL 123).
“Some tasks were signed off as completed and checked when they were not. Other work was done without authorization.”
Rollerstamping and illegal rework, just as I noted in my 2002 report to the FAA.
“The result was multiple errors in manufacturing, some of which passed right through the system to airplanes in service.”
Exactly. That’s what rollerstamping results in. Because of this Boeing management fraud, there are literally hundreds/thousands of tons in largely uninspected and defect riddled Boeing airplanes aloft at this very moment, endangering all of the passengers and crews on them to an unknowable extent. Because an uninspected defect riddled Boeing airplane is like a box of chocolates. No two have the same number and severity of defects as another, because uninspected work is randomly defective. I’ve seen it over almost a decade. Even the best mechanics make errors, even huge ones, that are not caught without independent QA inspection.
“Boeing also failed to take corrective action in a timely way after issues were discovered, the FAA found.”
Why? I know exactly why. Because they do not want to fix such problems as they view such efforts as “non-value added,” and they always assume that no such defects in any number or extent will ever cause a Boeing airplane to crash, even though such overlooked defects have caused at least two Major almost totally fatal crashes of 747s in the relatively recent past. They know if Boeing QA is at last final made to do their jobs to the letter, they will lose millions per year off the bottom line that this fraud they direct saves. Hundreds of millions.
“In one case, Air Canada ground crews in January 2015 discovered a 3-foot-wide puddle of fuel that had leaked from an engine pylon of the airline’s first 787 Dreamliner after it landed at an unnamed airport.
Leaking fuel around a hot engine is a fire hazard.
An FAA investigation revealed that Boeing had noted the leak nine months earlier, before it delivered the plane, and had supposedly reworked the pylon at the Everett plant to fix the problem.”
That was the exact work I used to inspect at Boeing. Not sure if Boeing installs the systems in 787 pylons like they did in earlier models when I was there, but if they do, it would be with the same rollerstamping group of inspectors I used to work with at Propulsion Systems Division.
‘A mechanic and a quality- control inspector signed off on the rework as completed. But as the FAA noted, this “did not represent work performed.” In other words, the repair work hadn’t been done.’
Rollerstamping by QA inspectors is still going on full force at Boeing in the area I used to work in, and everywhere else. Such rollerstamping is random, but in the worst cases, inspectors never inspect the work at all, and just stamp off the paperwork certifying they did. Sometimes, a rollerstamping inspector doesn’t inspect a certain mechanic’s work at all before buying it off because they think falsely that the mechanic stamping the job off is mistake proof because of their perceived skill level/time on the job.
‘Even after this instance of leaking fuel discovered on a jet carrying passengers, Boeing’s actions to prevent such an error from re-occuring were “unsatisfactory,” the FAA found.’
Again, this is because Boeing management is purposely allowing this rollerstamping fraud to continue for purely production flow/cost reasons, purposely careless to how it endangers every passenger and crew flying on a Boeing plane. There is essentially no real QA at Boeing at all. The V.P. of Quality is just a figurehead guy who has absolutely no experience in Quality and was actually was in an antagonistic to quality role before being named to that position. That alone proves Boeing management doesn’t give a damn about quality and therefore safety. The actual Boeing QA program is this: If not enough airplanes crash to get the attention of the media/public, then rollerstamping fraud as usual at Boeing and suppliers continues.
“The FAA investigations also reached down into Boeing’s supply chain, where a more egregious violation was noted.”
Exactly. I have seen this personally as well when I was an inspector at Boeing suppliers. Consequently, I rightly call Boeing’s suppliers “Boeing’s Vast Network of Fraud.”
‘In January 2015, a mechanic rigging a large 777 cargo door at a Boeing supplier was questioned about his work by an FAA investigator. The mechanic acknowledged that “he does not use the inspection tools required and enters false inspection data on the work order.”
“He admitted to falsely entering the data for approximately 7-8 years,” the FAA letter of investigation states.’
A good example of the level of fraud engaged in at Boeing suppliers, which is also allowed by Boeing management in order to reduce costs to Boeing, and therefore enhance the bottom line. Such fraud is widespread at each and almost every supplier. Suppliers do this because of relentless and continuing pressure by Boeing on them to reduce the prices of the components they provide, so they cut corners, just as Boeing management does. The first thing that is compromised because of this is QA, as an uninspected part looks from a distance like an inspected part. You only see the discrepancies if you actually inspect it per the engineering definition. So, like Boeing, they save money and reduce flow times by not inspecting production of the component as required, and just stamping off the paperwork certifying they did so.
‘Capt. John Cox, a veteran pilot and founder of Washington, D.C.-based aviation safety consultancy Safety Operating Systems, said this startling admission worried him far more than any of the inadvertent mistakes listed in the FAA investigation.
“When you have a deliberate act, and a culture that condones such a deliberate act, that is of much greater concern from a safety standpoint,” Cox said. “If the culture is, ‘We’ve got to get it out the door,’ and we start creating workarounds and normalized deviations from required procedures, that’s a culture that it is far more likely to experience serious safety issues.”’
News to Cox: All rollerstamping at Boeing and their suppliers is a deliberate act. And Boeing and their suppliers have the exact culture of fraud required behind this fraud. That’s the exact Boeing/suppliers’ justifications. “Get it out the door on time, damn the quality.” I and other inspectors called that Boeing culture the “getting the garbage out the door” culture. I even joked once that they should rename Boeing Quality Assurance to “Boeing Shipping Assurance.” Many inspectors don’t care about their jobs at all, and are instead much more concerned with getting Manufacturing’s job done—getting the component/airplane shipped to the next position on time, no matter how much rollerstamping is required to accomplish that. He is right that this is a safety issue. Boeing will never admit that, even when it is obviously a safety issue, for obvious reasons.
In addition to the relatively light fine in 2015, Boeing committed as part of the settlement to improve its internal quality oversight and management procedures.”
Good luck on that, for the reasons I noted above, and the reasons I noted in my critique of this FAA/Boeing kabuki theater when the fine was announced.
“The FAA also put Boeing on probation for five years, subject to $24 million in additional penalties if it fails to carry through on those improvements.”
Pathetic. The FAA in effect gave the exact same corrupt Boeing management behind this fraud five more years to perform it with this agreement, and Boeing management will do much of the verification of Boeing’s compliance with the agreement itself. You can guess how that will turn out. Boeing will just kick the can down the road yet again, as it always has done in the past to preserve the ability to engage in this very lucrative fraud.
‘However, this is not the first time the FAA has found Boeing’s manufacturing controls wanting.
An intensive FAA audit in 2000 found “systemic” failures in the jetmaker’s quality control processes — chiefly inadequate inspection and deviance from required manufacturing procedures.’
Exactly, as I noted. Boeing only does the absolute minimum to get a corrupt FAA manager to buy off Boeing’s bogus C/A for such audits. This allows Boeing to continue to engage in the same fraud. As I noted in the last link, many of the exact same items written up by the FAA in the 1999/2000 Special Technical Audit were written up almost 15 years later, proving that Boeing intentionally never fixed them.
‘That earlier investigation shook up the company’s relations with the FAA and prompted Boeing to add hundreds of full-time quality inspectors.’
Wow. I didn't know about the hiring of hundreds of inspectors at that time. I never noticed it, and I was an inspector at the time. It only shook up the relationship with the FAA for a short time. A corrupt FAA official behind the audit, Tom McSweeny, ensured that it was bought off without requiring Boeing to fix the management fraud root cause behind most of the items. Alan Mullaly flew with other Boeing execs to meet with him in D.C., offered him (apparently) a quid pro quo post-FAA cushy Boeing job, and the audit soon disappeared, McSweeney retired and hired immediately on with Boeing as promised at multiples of his FAA salary for essentially doing nothing. The same thing happened with the FAA’s Ali Bahrami after he deep sixed the FAA investigation of my report. It has been such corrupt activities at Boeing executives’ highest levels that has ensured the continuance of this very lucrative rollerstamping fraud by Boeing and their suppliers.
“Seventeen years after that audit, the 2015 FAA settlement represents a new shake-up as some of the same issues resurface.”
True, but the outcome of this audit will be exactly as ineffective as the ones before it, for the exact same Boeing/FAA management corruption reasons.
“Responding to Seattle Times questions, Boeing defended its broad commitment to quality and safety, and offered specific responses to some of the incidents detailed in the reports.”
Liar. It is committed to quality and safety only in the sense that the FAA approved policies say Boeing is supposed to ensure them. But Boeing doesn’t, as noted.
‘Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said, “None of these matters involved immediate safety of flight.”’
Typical Boeing management lie. They would never admit safety was involved until, maybe, after a crash where undeniable proof was found that “these matters” did indeed cause the crash.
‘He added that the settlement “reflects the FAA’s recognition that (Boeing) has made a number of substantial improvements to its quality and compliance systems” following the investigations.’
What spin. Actually not. This FAA audit pointed out that Boeing’s QA system is just as FUBARed as ever, regardless to how Boeing and their FAA management spun it when announced. The fact that the Seattle Times had to FOIA these documents to get them out of FAA hiding shows they still have much to hide, and are doing so as much as they can, for the benefit of corrupt Boeing management.
‘“Boeing has worked with the FAA and invested significant resources to implement these improvements … including enhancing management oversight and accountability,” Alder said.’
Yeah, right. There is the overriding cost of compliance complaint that is the very reason Boeing continues to engage in this fraud. If Boeing management was actually committed to minimum quality requirements, cost would not be an excuse/issue. “Enhancing?” WTF? That’s the same bogus spin Boeing and the FAA gave when they announced the original fine. “Enhance” tries to give you the impression they are improving an already compliant quality system above and beyond requirements, when the truth is that their quality system is massively substandard to those requirements, even to this day. This audit even admits that, as it gives Boeing five years to finally supposedly comply.
‘As for the fuel-leak incident on the Air Canada 787, Alder said a subsequent audit determined that “this was an isolated event,” and the company took “immediate corrective action” against both the Boeing mechanic and the Boeing inspector involved.’
Isolated my arse. Boeing’s entire quality system is intentionally compromised and is a source for many more serious such incidents to come. This disproves Alder’s statement that Boeing was making the management enhancements to prevent recurrence, as the root cause of the problem, the corrupt Boeing QA superviser and management of the inspector who rollerstamped was never disciplined for allowing/forcing him to do so.
‘Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the incident was one of “the typical types of issues that arise when introducing a new aircraft type.”’
Bull. The cause was Boeing rollerstamping fraud, in place at Boeing for decades. The 787 wasn’t a new model in 2014/2015.
‘“Regarding the falsified supplier data in the rigging of 777 cargo doors, Alder said that after this incident, all 777 large cargo doors manufactured by that supplier were re-checked and met specifications.
He added that Boeing’s standard tests would in any case have detected any non-conformance in the doors before delivery.’
WTF? How is checking the doors done after the ones he falsified that data for supposed to find the defects never found due to the falsified data? He is lying about later testing finding such defects. Boeing typically does this to save money on actually fixing discrepancies. They find some engineer they can trust to do their bidding to buy off such bogus C/A without any actual inspections or tests.
“Nevertheless, he said the supplier’s senior leadership had to present to Boeing a detailed plan to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, and the mechanic who had been falsifying data was retrained.”
Retrained? That will really deter such fraud—not. And presenting a plan to corrupt Boeing management who want inspectors to falsify paperwork all of the time will do nothing to bring any compliance.
‘Fuel leaks, missing tools, crossed wires
Other failures in quality workmanship cited by the FAA included:
After an FAA audit of 787 production processes found loose nuts incorrectly installed without a locking safety wire, Boeing’s corrective action was found “insufficient to prevent further occurrences.”
Subsequently, airlines found heavy fuel leaks on 787s in passenger service, due to lock wire being either missing or installed backward.
The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive warning airlines the situation was “unsafe” and ordering immediate inspection of the same fuel connections on all 787s to prevent possible fuel fires.
Following that directive, airlines found five more 787s with the faulty fuel couplings.
Boeing says it has revised work instructions and employee training “to prevent this from happening again.”’
Wow. This may explain some of those recent engine/pylon area fires that almost took a bunch of lives. This points out the Boeing management lies that no noncompliance is ever safety related. What is more safety related than safety wire? Every safety wire installation has a mandatory process inspection because such safety devices misinstalled/missing will create an unsafe condition. When even Boeing’s FAA breaks with Boeing orthodoxy and calls something unsafe you know it is a critical problem. Too many such incidents will cost them their post-FAA career at Boeing.
The wrong tool was used to rig a 777 passenger door, and was then discovered left inside the door after a flight. And another tool was found post-flight left inside the leading edge of a 777 wing.
Boeing says it has changed procedures so that employees are required to check out and check in tools, and some are decorated with bright paint or with streamers “to increase tool visibility.”’
Yeah, right. Check out every tool at the beginning and end of the shift from the tool room? Not going to happen in a million years. Maybe they mean someone signs for them in a book on the honor system instead. Sad. I used to rig the 777 passenger doors as a mechanic. Most of the inspectors there were the worst rollerstampers around. They wouldn’t even inspect the rigging of the doors as required, much less look for FOD during inspections. That was what made me go into inspection. I thought it was critical that there were some real inspectors inspecting at Boeing.
‘Wiring bundles “on numerous aircraft at numerous station locations within the aircraft” had wires that were excessively taut, or bent too acutely, or riding over one another with crossovers unprotected, or installed without sufficient clearance.
Poorly installed wiring can lead to electrical shorts.’
Amazing. This was the cause of the TWA 800 crash that killed 230 people and Boeing is still allowing this? I rest my case about Boeing being careless about the safety of passengers and crew on their planes. Wire bundle installation jobs are some of the most massively rollerstamped jobs at Boeing, which is why they are so riddled with such defects. Almost none of those jobs are inspected per the engineering drawing/specs, and are only cursorily inspected instead of the detailed inspection required with mirrors. Many of these wiring bundle jobs are huge. Mechanics take days installing them and inspectors are then pressured to buy them off in minutes, as occurred with the extensive wiring on engines and struts when I was an inspector on them.
“Composites were cooked at too high a temperature at Boeing’s advanced composites center on Marginal Way.”
I too was amazed at the composite cure rejection tags I had to write for bad cures. I was the only one that ever wrote them up. Doesn’t bode well for the extensive composite use on the 777X.
“Tubing was not installed per the engineering drawing in 777s.
Decompression panels in the cargo bay of a 787 were improperly installed.
A constant thread throughout the catalog of concerns in the investigation documents is that Boeing production workers and quality inspectors signed off on work that had not been done.”
Exactly. The critical fraud is that QA inspectors bought off the work without inspection. The quality of a mechanic’s work is always questionable, so the fact they made a mistake is not unexpected. That’s why inspectors doing their jobs every time all of the time as required is the critical part. And that is what Boeing management has intentionally subverted for more bottom line dollars and faster production flow. Indeed, Boeing’s “Lean Manufacturing” push has saved most of flow time by removing the time for inspectors to inspect the work adequately as required out of the production process. Per Boeing management and Boeing Lean Manufacturing, rollerstamping is a must.
‘Rules were also violated through lack of a required paper trail.
Every step in the building of an airplane is supposed to be copiously documented, checked and rechecked. Yet the FAA found that parts and assemblies were removed and reworked, then reinstalled “without documentation or quality authorization,” the investigations showed.’
It’s amazing this illegal rework is still so widespread at Boeing. Illegal rework places the integrity of the entire production process at risk, that is, if a production process had any integrity to begin with, which Boeing’s doesn’t.
“A culture of safety
The FAA now has fewer on-site quality inspectors than it did 17 years ago and relies on Boeing to follow precise procedural checks to assure airplane safety.
The safety agency’s main role is to check that Boeing sticks to the required quality assurance processes.”
That’s exactly how Boeing wants it. The fewer FAA inspectors on site means much less chance that the odd ethical FAA inspector shows up at Boeing and actually starts doing their job writing Boeing’s massive noncompliances up. This is a key reason such fraud is so prevalent at Boeing. FAA management knows just how FUBARed Boeing’s QA system is, so when they do such audits, they intentionally limit themselves to the fewest audits possible in the most limited areas possible, rather than trying to write up the entire scope of the breakdowns in the quality system, which would be near impossible because Boeing QA fraud is almost universal now. Performing an honest audit of Boeing would prevent FAA management from getting their promised quid pro quo jobs at Boeing after their 20 years of government service.
“Under the settlement, Boeing must provide the names and addresses of individual employees found to have falsely stamped any work, so the FAA could potentially initiate criminal prosecutions of such employees — though that has never actually happened at Boeing.”
Wow. That’s new. Maybe that will get some rollerstamping inspectors to begin at long last to do their jobs, but I doubt it. The problem isn’t the inspectors, it is the Boeing executive and QA management that is making them rollerstamp that is the problem. When the FAA takes the names and addresses of the QA managers over the caught rollerstamping inspectors for such prosecutions, I might start to pay attention. The FAA would never perform such prosecutions of Boeing inspectors anyway, as that probably would guarantee that Boeing management being behind these crimes would come out in court, and then the FAA management revolving door would come to a permanent stop. Former FAA managers want the same mansions, cars, and high class hookers that they see corrupt Boeing managers having.
‘The settlement also addresses weaknesses in Boeing’s supply chain.
Boeing agreed to audit by last month a minimum percentage of its parts suppliers — the percentage was redacted in the documents the FAA provided — to determine if any are “accepting work that is not complete.”’
Good luck with that. They only redacted it because it was a ridiculously low percentage. Problem with this: Boeing was supposed to do such audits since forever ago, but they never did them, or just pretended to. And with this, they will just pretend to again.
‘As part of the settlement, the FAA said it agreed to limit the fine to $12 million only because of Boeing’s “current and planned remedial efforts.”’
That shows just how bad Boeing’s quality system is debased by such fraud. Someone at the FAA had to risk their post-FAA Boeing career just to fine Boeing the 12 million. But they still can secure it by pulling a McSweeney and buying off C/A for the audit with no real C/A. And that’s almost surely what will happen at the end of the five years. The corrupt FAA purposely made the C/A required for such massive noncompliance minimal, which is why this whole thing is mostly Kabuki theater and will fail again to bring Boeing’s QA system anywhere near compliance.
‘Capt. Cox said he generally has a high regard for Boeing’s commitment to safety and its system of repeated independent checks and so was surprised to hear of crucial details overlooked and failures passing through unnoticed.
“First the worker and then a quality-assurance inspector both failing to address an issue such as a proper lockwire installation, this is not the Boeing way of doing business I’ve been familiar with — which is a culture of safety, a culture of procedural compliance,” he said.
Given the millions of individual tasks that go into building each of the roughly 10,000 Boeing aircraft now safely flying around the world, Cox said “it’s pretty self-evident that they have good solid procedures.”
Still, he added, “they are not perfect.”
“This audit found weaknesses and gives them the opportunity to improve. It sounds like the FAA did their job.”’
Wow. How utterly clueless. He knows nothing at all real about Boeing’s production and QA processes. Amazing. I hope the Seattle Times didn’t pay him for that opinion. If so, they should sue to get their money back.
The Last Inspector