This is another quote from the letter noted in the 8-20-06 quote:
I contacted the MIDO this morning. I asked them if any of the items in my report were still under investigation. They said no. I asked them if any other agencies had been contacted about any of the items in my report. They said no. All was over except the C/Aing, it seems. What I had specifically requested not to happen both in my report and in my contacts with the MIDO had happened. The root cause of virtually all of the items in my report was not addressed in the investigation at all—the corrupt QA Management in place at BCAG. The vast majority of the most serious items in my report had also been ignored in the investigation—the ones involving personnel misconduct in violation of our procedures and FAA regulations, rules, and orders. What I had learned about the status of the investigation confirmed what I had suspected by contacts with former coworkers at PSD—that my evidence of corruption in the QA Management ranks had never been investigated. No one was interviewed about anything of the sort, and no one was even interviewed under oath about the limited matters from my report they chose to investigate. The investigation had confirmed what my colleagues at PSD had always told me when we spoke of going to the FAA—that it was pointless as "the FAA was in bed with Boeing" and any investigation would intentionally go nowhere. I had chosen not to believe them, disregarding what I thought was their likely correctness on the matter, and I decided to "take a chance," knowing that the urgency of taking action to stop the corruption forthwith outweighed by far such opinions of the FAA’s objectivity in the past, given the gravity of corruption at BCAG and that corruption’s much more likely harmful effect on many people’s lives and livelihoods. In the end, unfortunately, I had proven my colleagues correct, and I can now add my voice legitimately to those others in the past that have opined on the subject after attempting to get the FAA to do their job in the public interest before people died:
"The question right now is how broad is it (the investigation) going to be," said one federal criminal-justice source. "Is FAA in bed with Alaska?" ("U.S. Looks Into FAA's Alaska Air Oversight," article, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, Thursday, April 13, 2000). (By the way, I do not agree with (name) opinion in the article that the FAA’s laxness in doing their jobs reflects "the good-old-boy network" in aviation. I believe there are much more insidious reasons than that behind it. Getting to the bottom of that problem is a matter for a long overdue Congressional investigation, I believe. You could say Eighty-eight people died on Alaska flight 261 because of that "problem" ("problem" is putting it mildly), and 3000 people died on September 11th partially because of the FAA’s "lax oversight." However, I believe if only a "good-old-boy network" was responsible for the lax oversight that contributed to all of those deaths (and many others not mentioned), that mere "social club" network would have long since disbanded in favor of saving innocent lives by forgoing the "lavish poker parties," "reciprocal backscratching," and exchanging of favorite books between heads of corporations and the head of the FAA (as occurred between (former Boeing CEO) and Administrator (name), I believe). I believe such a "network," if one exists, probably much more resembles that one depicted in the "Sopranos"—it would have to be one corrupt enough to ignore the sanctity of all of those innocent lives.
"Back to the question – did FAA ever look the other way on security problems, because the airlines wanted you to?" ("FAA Answers Whistleblowers' Charges," a very interesting article, interview with FAA official, WorldNetDaily.com)
‘One veteran FAA inspector told the magazine: "The airlines won't admit they have a bogus-parts problem. The FAA's top brass is in bed with the airlines, so they won't admit it either. The flying public is getting screwed,"’ ("CRASH COURSE," article, www.eye.net)
And the now "infamous" (name) (depending upon how you see his role—I for one (I’m biased towards his high ethics, I know), consider him more a "hero" than the other myopic view that seems to brand him as a "troublemaker" for the status quo operandi that were in place at (airline name) when it appears things went horribly wrong) also said a similar comment to the above, lamenting that the FAA was not doing their jobs for ulterior reasons. I could not find that quote again in a limited web search this morning. And/or perhaps it was (name) that that quote was from (I have no time to do the research to pin down the exact quote from my memory).
The three articles quoted are only from the first couple pages of a Google web search on the subject of some 1900 results.
As long as we are on the subject of the (name) investigation, I think I should state that I think my situation and his are very similar. We both went to the FAA after getting nowhere going through the "official" Company channels. I suggested an ethics investigation of one of my supervisors to an ethics focal. No investigation was begun. I talked to (name), a former QA Director of mine about the same supervisor’s ethical lapses. The supervisor was promoted. I was "promised" meetings with (name), my last QA Director at PSD, in which I would have surely brought up my concerns. No such meetings ever were scheduled. I made my experiences and feelings known in writings in response to Company surveys. And countless other times in crew meetings and in other meetings, I spoke of my concerns to QA Supervision and others. All to no avail. We both were laboring in organizations in which cost and schedules overrode quality and safety concerns, from what I have read about his situation, and from what I have witnessed in mine. Our similar investigations were quashed despite overwhelming evidence. (Name’s) report’s investigation only was performed thoroughly after people died. I guess my report’s investigation is being held similarly until people also die because of the corruption I have detailed in the report. However, I believe the corruption in my report is even more serious and can have much more horrific consequences than that at (airline) did. Our corrupt Quality System inspects (or more accurately, does not inspect) many more airplanes than (airlines’) did. And it is not the signature of one supervisor on one piece of paper that is at issue as in (Name’s) report. It is hundreds of personnel and untold thousands of "pieces of paper" signed off incorrectly in my report. But I digress…
I was hoping that all I would have to do was to submit my report to the FAA, and they would do the rest ethically, thoroughly, and with integrity. I was hoping they were the "one stop shopping place" that 14CFR13 seems to indicate, and would coordinate with the FBI and Justice Department as necessary during their investigation, making my further involvement with rectifying the corruption in the Quality System at BCAG unnecessary. However, I was horribly mistaken, it seems. Due to the apparent failure of the FAA to fully investigate the items in my report. It appears the ball is now back in my court. I am now at a crossroads. Quitting my "crusade" is not an option for me. I decided after that meeting on 1/11 that I must do something, no matter how long or hard the journey to rectify the situation. I had planned for the eventuality of all the "pundits" being right about the FAA’s lack of objectivity, but I am losing my stomach for what lays ahead. That is why I write to you now, in order to avoid "carrying this torch" down that dangerous path, hoping to pass that "torch" onto Boeing senior management. I knew, if an honest investigation of my report had been performed by the FAA, some damage may occur to the Company publicly. However, I knew then, as I know now, that lives and the Company’s long term future outweighed the short term publicity. However, I wanted to propose a solution at this time that may avoid such publicity, due to the vulnerable time’s our Company is in currently. My intention has always been to do what was best for public safety and what was best for the Company, believe it or not. I did not think the corruption in our QA department was what was best for public safety or the Company, for reasons that are contained in my report.
This is another quote from the letter noted in the 8-20-06 quote:
Has my forced transfer to my FTQA "non-production job" changed my horrific experiences that have proven my objective view of the corrupt BCAG Quality System? Far from it. (name), a FTQA Lead with over 30 years at Boeing, who sits at the desk just behind me in the FTQA Lead office, has told me, and others, more than one time that he is surprised no Boeing Flight Test planes have crashed recently because they have taken off in unairworthy conditions because FTQA Management has "tied the hands" of FTQA inspectors so they cannot do their jobs. An FTQA Airworthiness Inspector said once that the Company "would really be f***ed" if certain parts of the FTQA inspection responsibilities were audited by the FAA (he obviously gives the FAA too much credit for being objective, as I know now I once did, but I now know otherwise). I could go on and on, but I won’t.
The above is "in a nutshell" what is contained within my report the FAA MIDO, except my 400 some-odd page report goes into far greater detail and gives concrete examples of said corruption, along with dealing with many more facets of our corrupt Quality System I cannot include in this letter due to its necessary "brevity." Anyway, as I said, I submitted the last part of the report on May 31st of this year. While submitting that portion of the report (the lion’s share of it—only 49 pages had been submitted January 28th), I learned that the first part of my report had been "investigated" by one ASI and this "investigation" had resulted in no findings. I was still at PSD at the time of the investigation, and had never even noticed it occurring, it was apparently conducted so subtly. The MIDO personnel stated they had not notified me of the investigation results "because I had not requested a written report." They also said they had only investigated a few of the items I submitted because investigating the other items might have exposed my identity. (I did ask them not to reveal my identity as the submitter to deter any further retaliation from my management than I had received up to that point for doing my job, but I had no idea they would use it as a excuse to impede the investigation, or else I would not have agreed to have them protect my identity.) I should have realized the obvious then, but I submitted the rest of my report and asked them to investigate its contents, along with the items in the first part of my report, without regard to keeping my identity secret if that would impede the investigation in any way.
Unfortunately, my report was put "on the back burner," and despite repeated inquiries by me to the MIDO to ensure its fate was not the same as the previous report’s, it seemed as if the investigation would be quashed because of the excuse of the lack of MIDO resources or "more important MIDO duties." The Senior ASI I was contacting suggested I "write to Congress" to get the resources I wanted assigned to the investigation. I had not thought of that idea before, but I thought I had little choice at that time, so I did. I wrote to (name), FAA Administrator at the time, requesting the necessary resources for the investigation and asked her to work with Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to ensure those resources were obtained. I sent that letter to both Senators, prefaced with a letter with additional information. When I received a reply from (name’s) assistant stating she had assigned the manager of the local TAD to perform the investigation, I contacted the Senior ASI again. What a change! The investigation would be begun forthwith. However, I should have been suspicious when he said they would investigate my "specific allegations" in my report (I had not made any "non-specific allegations" in my report. In fact, my report was chock full of specifics!). He also said that they did not investigate what he termed "personnel problems." I felt that was not directed at me or my report, as I had detailed what any casual observer could consider crimes and corruption, not mere "personnel problems." Still, I was suspicious enough to ask if they could involve the FBI and Justice Department if need be. He was evasive, but eventually said that they had done so at least once in the past.
Anyway, fast forward to late August. I received a letter from (name), detailing "preliminary results" of the investigation of some eight items, informing me that Boeing now would respond to those items once notified of them. Nothing terribly earthshaking was listed in the confirmed items from my report, which were only about ten percent of the items I had submitted that were only the symptoms of the real item I wanted investigated—the rampant corruption among QA Management ranks—the "disease" in the BCAG Quality System that intentionally allowed those "symptoms" to occur, which is what I had thought they were investigating per my "direction." I figured the most serious corruption related items were still under investigation, and were not listed in the letter due to what I had noticed as an obsession with any FAA personnel I talked to not to allow anything to be recorded on paper or electronic means that they would not want in the newspaper—especially, it seemed to me, anything critical of Boeing, and the fact that the letter was prefaced as "preliminary results." I knew that if the items listed on the letter were really the final results of the investigation, that all of my extensive efforts to get the System fixed would be in vain, for if the FAA only focused their investigation on the symptoms of the corruption in the QA Management ranks, and even if they wrote up the myriad things that were not being done per plan, procedure, and engineering by the QA Department and those items were rectified--every one of those "symptoms" would be back shortly at the behest of the corrupt QA Management that would be left in place at BCAG, untouched and unreformed from what I thought were their "criminal ways."
This quote is from a letter I wrote to Boeing's chief corporate counsel (a member of the Boeing Board of Directors, I believe) in October 2002 after the FAA performed an intentionally very limited and Boeing corruption friendly non-investigation of my report that I received the intentionally minimal results of in August 2002. My next steps to get reform at Boeing were limited at that point, and all but the most unlikely one--appealing to FAA headquarters again for a reinvestigation of my report after noting my well founded suspicions of corruption in the TAD that resulted in the intentionally very limited "investigation" of my report--required me to go public with Boeing and the FAA's corruption, a step I did not want to take as I did not want to take that step except as a last resort because I wanted to get reform in Boeing's quality system with the least damage to Boeing's reputation possible. I would have went public in heartbeat if it meant only that Boeing's corrupt QA management would suffer the consequences of such bad publicity and be replaced, but I knew that mostly innocent hourly employees like I was would also suffer consequences if I had to resort to getting the public to protect themselves from the corruption in Boeing Quality Assurance management, and it was the non-management employees that were already suffering layoffs at that point. I resolved to take a different route--to contact Boeing Headquarters management in blind faith that they were not involved in the corruption in their lower management ranks at BCA. I attempted to use a potential lawsuit and going public--the two other major routes I could take at that time--as leverage in case Boeing Headquarters management did not want to act to stop the corruption just because it was the ethical and lawful thing to do, and needed additional motivation to act in the public and military personnel safety interests.
In response to my letter, Boeing's chief counsel assigned the same attorney that had investigated the Boeing theft of competition sensitive data from its chief competitor on the EELV program competition. I had to help this attorney convert the reports I had forwarded to Boeing's chief counsel that I had submitted to the Boeing corruption biased FAA to a format the attorney's computer software would open. After several weeks, Boeing Headquarters decided to hide behind the FAA's non-investigation of virtually all the items in my report--chief among them the Boeing QA management corruption that engendered almost all of the other noncompliances documented in my report. It was at that point that I knew the corruption did not stop in the QA management ranks--it extended all the way into the Boardroom of Boeing Corporate Headquarters itself. And so it is to this day. CEOs and other positions on the Boeing Board change faces, but key personel on the Board refuse to act to stop this law breaking and defrauding of Boeing's commercial and military customers via the Product Subtitution that Boeing performs when it condones rollerstamping by not acting to stop it and/or by pretending it does not exist for Boeing's bottom line's sake. As noted in the home page, Boeing's chief counsel was so convinced of the truth of my allegations and the consequences for the company if this matter became public and gained media traction that he "hopped" a corporate jet to fly from Boeing Headquarters in Chicago to fly to BCA headquarters in Washington to personally handle this matter himself. If he knew that my allegations were not true, he simply would have ignored them, instead. It is this collusion between "working together" corrupt Boeing and FAA management that prevented Boeing from acting in a lawful and caring manner for the safety of the public in response to my letter quoted below that I am trying to end by getting the OIG to restore real and effective oversight of Boeing by reform of the FAA TAD that currently suckles from and mimics Boeing's corruption. Once that is done, the corrupt management at Boeing will have no agency to hide their corruption behind as they currently do in the TAD:
October 13, 2002
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
The Boeing Company
Boeing World Headquarters
100 N. Riverside
Chicago, IL 60606-1596
312-544-2800Re: FAA File Number 2002NM420013, Certificate Management Office Special Evaluation—Boeing Propulsion Systems Division, Everett Division, and Renton Division.
Dear Mr. (Name),
My name is Gerald Eastman, a Precision Assembly Inspector at BCAG, and although you likely have no idea who I am, there may be a slim chance that (Name), BCAG Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, or someone else in her office may know of me and/or the matter of which I write. That would likely only be the case if Quality Assurance Management at the Propulsion Systems Division (PSD) of BCAG had contacted Boeing Legal regarding their possible suspicions of who had reported their corrupt activities to the local FAA MIDO office, and had named me, accurately, fingering who was to "blame" for that report. However, it is quite possible neither you or anyone in Boeing Legal know who I am or of my report because PSD had chosen not to advertise their likely suspicions for some reason known only to them, or perhaps even because, however unlikely, they never figured out who had submitted the report. In that doubtful latter possibility, they may have been befuddled because, even though in my report I requested the FAA not to protect my identity if it would impede their investigation in any way, it appears that they may have intentionally ignored that request in order, not to protect me, but to use such "protection" of my identity as a convenient excuse in order to not investigate the corruption detailed in my report.
And that is one reason why I am writing to you now. I had submitted the report to the MIDO office in two parts, on January 28th and May 31st of this year, detailing the rampant corruption that is ongoing within the Quality Assurance Management ranks at BCAG that is decimating even the minimally required levels of effectiveness of our FAA required Quality System purposely. QA Managers, in a misguided attempt to create "value" for the Company, please their managers (and Manufacturing) to retain their jobs, and/or attempting to pad their pocketbooks with hefty future merit bonuses, are not ensuring their inspectors do their essential safety related jobs to assure the quality of the airplanes we build, but instead are doing exactly the opposite—ensuring they do not, and/or cannot do their inspection jobs lest the costs of documentation and rework of valid defects detract from the current quarter’s bottom line. How do they do this? Mostly by doing nothing, letting the "Quality Assurance Organization airplane" remain pilotless and withholding any kind of maintenance due to their intentional absence and neglect, allowing that essential "vehicle" to the safety and quality of our aerospace products to "fall out of the sky," thereby disabling it so it will not get in Manufacturing’s way of delivering products "under cost" and "on schedule," or as (name), former fellow inspector liked to put it—allowing Manufacturing to "push more garbage out the door," without the "luxury" of inspectors performing their jobs. By doing this, they achieve their long held ultimate goal—manufacturing self-acceptance in A&I areas of our factories—years earlier, and without the required FAA approval that they fear may never come (due to the FAA’s certain knowledge of just how intentionally ineffective our Quality System is) in time to meet their "value creation" goals.
The vast majority of inspectors know there is effectively no one "at the wheel" of our Quality System, and know they can do their jobs (or, more accurately, not do their jobs) any way they want to without fear of reprisal. Soon they learn they do not have to do their jobs at all, and many succumb to becoming what their management wants them to be—anything but inspectors doing the job of inspecting. Many like the freedom of surfing the internet and/or "shooting the breeze" all day with fellow workers their coveted "welfare inspection jobs" allow them to do. The only real "work" they have to do is to get up occasionally to stamp the inspections on the paperwork off. The only things they know will bring the wrath of their corrupt management down upon them is if the paperwork does not look like they actually did the inspections (stamps missing, etc.), or if they attempt to divert from their status of "inspectors on welfare" and begin to actually inspect the airplanes we build. However, not all inspectors—especially the ones like me—want to go that route intentionally made so easy for us. We know the importance of our jobs to countless people’s lives, and the future of this Company’s predominance in the commercial aircraft industry. We do not follow the path intended for us by our corrupt management, and instead work to "pull up" the essential "Quality Assurance Organization airplane" to save it, peoples lives protected by it, and BCAG, from destruction by actually doing our jobs of inspection per plan, procedures and engineering requirements. This is where QA Management’s plans to facilitate Manufacturing’s unimpeded pursuit of their cost and schedule targets by not doing our jobs goes awry, and where they must actively pursue their corrupt goals, by "getting their hands dirty." This involves active misinformation to line inspectors to make them believe their jobs are to do anything but actually inspecting mechanic’s work, transferring them into office "make work" jobs to make sure they cannot document defects on the airplane in order to cut costs by letting those defects deliver to customers, and transferring them completely out of the factory setting if they persist in attempting to do their jobs of inspection. I know. All of that, and more, has happened to me only because I persisted in my attempts to do my job despite such corrupt QA Management trying to convince me otherwise. Am I alone in being treated this way for only attempting to do my job? No--not by far. Many other inspectors who similarly attempted to do their jobs for ethical reasons have been also thusly treated.
Many ethical inspectors trying to do their jobs continue to labor in our corrupted Quality System, slightly or fully ignorant to the above facts. They don’t know fully why their jobs become exponentially more difficult and abusive the more they try to do their jobs, and why they receive only negative attention from shop and their management for trying to do their real jobs well. I was "in the dark" for a long time similarly, not fully understanding why doing my job well only seemed to cause me grief. However, looking back, I had known why everything was as it was, but had not wanted to consciously face that "unthinkable" truth. Thankfully, (name), my former QA Supervisor, put me in a room and "faced me with the facts." That 1/11 meeting, for me, had as profound an effect on me as 9/11 has had upon our nation. I have been "fully enlightened" to the true nature of our Quality System since then, and that pivotal meeting finally "got me off the fence" into my present somewhat quixotic (thus far) endeavor to single-handedly attempt to reform the corrupt BCAG Quality System.
Visit this blog every day for new quotes from my reports and other miscellaneous correspondence written in my quest to end the current "working together" Boeing and FAA symbiotic corruption.
As the first quote from my many documentary writings about the corruption within Boeing's quality system and the portion of the FAA that is supposed to ensure Boeing complys with it, but does not, I'll select a portion of 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 excerpt recounts the meeting that was the impetus that made me come forward and report Boeing's illegal actions to the FAA so they could be ended by the agency before the inevitable airplane crash(es) I knew would come from Boeing's many years (at that time, some 4 1/2 years ago) of skirting regulations ensuring the quality, safety, and reliability of the airplanes Boeing built, The meeting was on 1/11/02, and I like to think of it as my own personnal 9/11 (even though the date was 1/11) because it woke me up, the same way we all awoke to the reality of a new world on 9/11/01. It was a meeting between me and my QA Supervisor of the time. Names have been deleted to keep the guilty from harassing me with lawsuits, although I told the FAA the truth in the report, and would swear to any of its contents in a court of law as I witnessed the event. This quote also is the opening of the first portion of my report to the FAA, submitted to the MIDO on or about 1/28/02. The portion about my history as an inspector was removed for brevity, and may be quoted at a later date:
"I am writing concerning a matter that I hope will get your prompt attention. I have considered taking this step for some time now--from since at least two years ago. An event that happened yesterday ultimately made me decide to come forward after hoping for several years that the integrity of the Quality System at BCAG would improve to the point where I would not have to go through with this.
I was hoping I could continue to try to do my job ethically and with integrity as a Precision Assembly Inspector at the Propulsion Systems Division of BCAG to the FAA-approved PSD/BCAG Quality Manual without fearing being discharged for doing so. After the event that happened yesterday I knew that would never be possible. I could never hope to see some acceptable level of ethical behavior, integrity, and care for the traveling public in the BCAG Quality System without this action. I also realized that I had been blind all my time as an inspector in one very important respect: I had let my fear of being fired overcome my duty to the traveling public by not coming forward sooner. First, I will give you as much background as I can about my past inspection experiences working in the BCAG Quality System at Boeing so I can hopefully help you understand why I am doing this, illustrate how difficult an ethical FAA line inspector designee’s job at BCAG is "from an inside source", and illustrate the state of the current BCAG Quality System as it existed up until this day, before getting to the event in question: …"
"…Now that I feel you understand me as an inspector better than, I think, anyone ever has, due to the forgoing long diatribe, now I can get to the event that happened yesterday, 1/11/02. At approximately 1:45 P.M., (name), my supervisor, came up to me while I was performing a thrust reverser receival inspection and asked me where I was on the inspection. I told him I was about halfway done. He then said to stop what I was doing, that he needed to talk with me, and to follow him. As I followed him he stated that it was about the weekend overtime I was scheduled to work and that he "could not bar me from overtime without documentation" and that he needed to talk to me prior to the weekend. This statement caught me by surprise, and I feared the worst. We entered a conference room off the transportation aisle. He said he had gotten some feedback from the leads and my "peers" (I don’t know if he was talking about mechanics or inspectors, or both, with the word "peers"--he didn’t elaborate) and that he "needed to know what he could do to help me meet the delivery schedule." My heart sank. Up until this point, I had given him the benefit of the doubt. I had hoped, when he came in as QA Supervisor, that he would be an improvement over most of our previous QA supervisors. There seemed to be some promising signs. He shook things up a bit at first, stopping the practice shop had previously had of the changing out of parts immediately after they were rejected and replacing them with good parts in pre-assembly areas by having us write unitized tags on all parts, even uninstalled parts. Although it seemed he was doing it because he was more concerned with unaccountability of the parts and the resulting costs to the company, shop did not like it and this seemed to show he would stand up to the shop, as most of our previous supervisors hadn‘t. But since then things seemed to go down hill fast, especially after 9/11, and even more after the holidays. It seemed that the same unethical bent of my former QA Supervisor, (name), had taken a hold of (name). (Name)’s ethics seemed to go out the window during the production slowdown debacle that had cost the Company huge amounts of money, and it seemed the same thing was happening to (name) as a result of the 9/11 impact to the Company. But it probably just was that his ethical shortcomings were mostly unknown to me as he rarely spoke to me one-on-one. In almost every crew meeting, he would talk about the importance of "supporting the shop" and supporting the delivery schedule more than issues to do with the quality of the product. Quality issues were mostly brought up by the inspectors in the Q&A portion of the meetings. But this was not surprising, in that in almost every group meeting I had had with a Quality Manager, lectures on S (schedule), D (delivery), and C (cost), always seemed to outweigh discussion of Q (quality). The only issue discussed less than Q in these meetings was M (morale).
But I now knew, after he mouthed as fact the words that Manufacturing Supervisors had themselves mouthed in desperate efforts to get me fired, that he was no better than most of my previous Quality Supervisors, as (name), a fellow line inspector, had earlier confided in me, and may actually be starting down the path of making their requests come true by having this meeting. I answered his question half-jokingly (to lighten the mood) "tell me to roller-stamp everything." He said that "I cannot tell you to do that." He then said that the engines that I was scheduled to work that weekend must ship that weekend. I thought that was strange, because I had never personally, because of my inspection ethic of inspecting jobs consistently whether manufacturing was behind schedule or not, kept a product from shipping, although some of the discrepancies I had documented had had to be "traveled" uncompleted with the product. He told me that in every crew meeting he had emphasized the importance of inspectors supporting the delivery schedule, which was true, as I have described previously. I asked him if these allegations that I "was not supporting delivery schedules" were from (name), Manufacturing Supervisor. He said no. I knew then that he was most certainly lying straight to my face and my respect for him lessened to near zero at that instant.
(name) was almost certainly one of the three unethical Manufacturing Supervisors that my former General Supervisor, (name), said had came to him in an attempt to get me fired for doing my job too well. ((name) had always shown a disdain for me after learning that I would not lessen my inspection standards to a level to his liking and matching the roller-stamping inspectors in his area. (name) was a former thorough inspector like me I had heard, and former QA Lead, before he joined Manufacturing Management, and his philosophy changed 180 degrees. He apparently disliked me so much due to the fact I wouldn‘t bend to his will, that he rarely spoke to me at all, and instead would go directly to my lead or supervisor every time he thought he might be able to get me in trouble, instead of discussing work issues with me.
(Name) said that he had talked to the leads and that they had said they had given me "feedback on my performance," inferring, I assumed, negative feedback. I told him that that was not true, and that I did not remember any such feedback from the leads. I told him that I considered two of the three leads incompetent, and that I believed he should not trust their judgment. I told him that the only negative feedback I had heard was from (name) and (name), who had told me of rumors they had heard about me. I asked him whom had told him that I was "not supporting the delivery schedule" as no one had told me that personally and that he had never spoken to me about it before. Indeed, (name) rarely ever spoke to me prior to this meeting, and never gave me any feedback of any sort himself prior to the meeting.
When he first was hired as Quality Assurance Supervisor, he had spoken to me briefly on two occasions when I was assigned to office projects, saying both times "we need to talk". However, he never set up a meeting with me, and this was the first formal meeting alone we had had. We had spoken about what to do briefly on a few NCRs, one I believe was N1810011956, written on shop lubricating bolts when they shouldn‘t have been lubricated on the 767/757 APU mounts, resulting in a possible overtorque condition on the bolts due to the lubrication. He told me to cancel the NCR, and that shop would put the condition on an ELR (#808096) and submit it to engineering, as it was a drawing problem, and we didn‘t write NCRs on drawing problems. I showed him section 4.F.9. of OP-A T-3000-279 on ELR Processing that said a Rejection Tag could be written on a condition where the ELR would not support the delivery schedule, which is what we had with the current APU, and that was why I had written the NCR. He said to go ahead and cancel the tag anyway as he had said. He said what he was instructing me to do was "75% legal and 25% illegal" (or he said it reversed from that order, "25% legal, 75% illegal", I don’t remember which, specifically), and then laughed. The ELR did not support the delivery schedule after all, and I had to write a new NCR, N1810011999 on the same APU, doing double work, before it shipped. He had also spoken to me when I had asked questions at crew meetings, but that was pretty much it. Other Quality personnel had complained several times that he seemed to avoid talking to them also. (Name) had attempted to explain this once, in a crew meeting, by saying that he "was not a people person" and that he was, instead, a "task oriented" person.
He said it was not just the leads, but that unnamed "peers" had said similar things about my performance. He said that some had told him that I write up every scratch on the product. I said that I had never written up just a "scratch", matching the derisive tone he said it. In fact, at PSD, all of my discrepancies had been validated by QA MRB. Not once had one of my tags been returned as not a valid discrepancy, although a QA supervisor tried to have one canceled once (I‘ll get to that later). I would have been fired long ago if I had written up invalid defects on NCRs. I had been severely sanctioned by one of my former QA Supervisors once for only writing up one invalid pickup item out of the thousands of valid ones I had written up.
Boeing once had a ballpark estimate of what each MRB-type tag cost the company, of $(X)-$(X). Recently they knocked that, what I had thought, and others had also thought, outrageous figure, down to $(X). Even that figure was probably wrong. I was told that the former figure of $(X) or $(X) included the salaries of everyone who touched the tag. But most of those people would still have to be at Boeing if only a few tags were written a year. Also, the more tags that were written, therefore, should make the price per tag drop, but it stayed at $(X)-$(X) for what seemed like forever. Anyway, the company would never let an employee, in effect, spend $(X) unnecessarily any time he wanted just because he felt like it, when the pay of that employee, me, was only about $27 an hour.
(Name) said that there was no way to inspect quality into the product, and that the quality had to be built into the product. I had heard that before several times from QA Management of all levels. I agreed. He said that no matter how much I inspected, that I would not find everything. I agreed (I had known about Juran’s Quality Handbook for quite some time, that states, when products are inspected, that inspectors only catch 80% of defects--although I’m pretty sure the same handbook probably states (I have never read it, only heard about the 80% rule) that 0% of defects are found if the product is not inspected). He said that he had heard that if I couldn’t find a discrepancy that I would research and research, and go back and inspect until I found something. I said that that wasn’t true. (I have never done any such thing. If I inspected a job and I didn’t find any discrepancies, I would simply buy the job, although a disgruntled mechanic had accused me of doing exactly what (name) had described, once.) I told him I was at a disadvantage, in that he rarely ever spoke to me, while he was in meetings all day with Mfg Supervisors and sat right across from (name) all day while I was never able to counteract these rumors and unfounded accusations from these people. He reiterated that "these two engines must ship" that weekend. I said I had no intention of keeping them from shipping and that things have to ship during every regular workday all of the time, not just weekends. He said that the weekend was "premium" time, and that we needed to "adjust our inspection processes" to meet the delivery schedule. He brought up the last time I worked overtime (this was on 10/14/01, a Sunday) and said that on that day I was doing a shakedown when (name), the other inspector I was working with that weekend, was sitting around, and that (name) had come over to ask if I needed help with the shakedown and that I had said no and this had delayed the shipment of the engine. He said that I should know when the product needs to be shipped and that I should ask for help if I needed it to meet the schedule. I told him that I had no way of knowing what specific time the product needed to be shipped, and no one from manufacturing had told me anything to indicate that I needed to get someone to help me with that engine to expedite it. I told him the first time I had known there was a problem was when (name) called him in, I assumed from home, as I thought he had had that weekend off, to talk to me. I said that that was 6, 8, 10, weeks ago, and I asked him why he had not talked to me about there being a problem with my performance on that day, when he was there. The only thing he said to me that day was that he had asked where I was on the inspection and asked if (name) could help me finish it. I agreed and (name) and I finished the shakedown.
Since we hadn‘t discussed that day until then, I explained what happened that day. I told him that the reason (name) had probably called him was because I had done the wire bundle inspection before the shakedown, as was my habit (as I knew per inspection procedure that all workable jobs had to be completed prior to shakedowns), even though other inspectors would inspect the wire bundle job during the shakedown to save time. I told him that the whole event could have been avoided if (name) had communicated with me. I told him that (name) would not speak to me. I said that none of the Mfg supervisors would talk with me if they had a problem, instead they would go directly to the QA Leads or Supervisor. He said that "Gerry, the shop supervisors won’t talk to you because they know they won’t get what they want." He asked me how long it took me to inspect the wire bundle. I said I didn’t time myself, but I guessed about an hour. He questioned the time. I told him that the wire bundle job was the largest job on the engine, and I told him how I inspected wire bundle jobs, how I inspected for loose clamps, damage from installation, gapped clamp cushions, breakouts riding the main bundle, loose ties, etc. Then I would get the drawings and check for clamp lobing, missing clamps, any other installation notes that I did not know about that installation. He asked why I looked for loose ties, as they were done at the vendor. I said no, that in pre-assembly and on installation, the shop adds ties to the bundle. He questioned my use of drawings, stating that all our installations are common across models and that I should be able to inspect without referring to them. He said that a clamp on one engine model is installed the same way on all engine models. He asked if I knew that, if the nut fell off, that each clamp was designed to stay in place. I said no. He asked if I knew that the engine would run without the wire bundle. I said no. I said "You can think of a million reasons not to do your job, but only one reason to do the job--integrity. (Yes, I know it sounds corny, but I meant it, and got a little emotional saying it. I had thought that line up a long time ago in response to the many instances when I saw inspectors or QA supervisors similarly spout reasons to justify not doing their jobs, and then stamping the job saying they did the job, and this was the first time I got to use that, hopefully original, line). He stared poker-faced at me. He asked me how many planes have crashed due to an EBU problem. I thought for a few moments and said "at least one." He didn’t ask which crash I was thinking of. He asked me what I thought my job as an inspector was. "To inspect", I said. He said, "No, it is to train mechanics." He said inspectors were the expert mechanics. Strange, I thought, because some inspectors have never been mechanics, and I had seen the word "inspect" quite often in the QA manual, but I didn’t remember the word "train" once. As weird and off-the-wall as this message sounded to me, I had heard this very same message from another of my old QA supervisors, whose eerily similar message I will describe later. I said I did not consider my job as an inspector as optional, even if other inspectors did. He said this meeting was about me, not other inspectors. I got the message. This wasn’t a simple conversation on inspection philosophies, it was the requisite verbal disciplinary meeting before the next step, the documentation meeting where I would probably receive my first CAM as a Boeing employee. At some point, I said how I thought it was wrong how products were described such as just "quality donuts", when even a car in a wrecking yard had a certain level of quality. (I meant to say "quality airplanes", but said "quality donuts", because I didn‘t want to disparage (name), whose frequency stating that we simply built "quality airplanes" annoyed me because I thought that didn’t say anything about the level of quality of our airplanes, and was the motivation for this inopportune comment in the meeting on my part.) I don’t remember what he said to that.
He said, that with the manpower reductions that were coming up, and bump-ins that were coming, that he couldn’t afford to leave me in the fitcheck area and not to rotate me with the other inspectors. He said that was why he had gotten me out of the office and out onto the floor. I said that no one had ever told me the real reason why I was in the office all that time. He said he had heard only "rumors" why, and didn’t elaborate. He said that he needed to standardize inspection methods. I said that I had told nearly every QA supervisor that since I was at PSD. Of course, our reasons were different. I wanted to have the QA supervisors standardize inspection methods for the integrity of the product--to bring up the level of inspection of the roller stampers to my level (as I considered my level the minimum acceptable level). Then, I would not "stand out from the crowd" and, therefore, I would not be a target for attention from shop management and from my own management such as this meeting. But he wanted the opposite--the product was designed so well that we did not need to inspect it--only to rubber stamp the job and "train mechanics." He would standardize inspection by bringing me down to the, what I thought, unethical roller stamper level of inspection, not the direction in ethics that I had blindly hoped that the Boeing Quality System would evolve to over time. I saw then that there was no hope for someone with ethics and integrity, like me, to survive in the obviously corrupt Boeing Quality System (name) described. Nothing would change.
I said that I now realized it was a mistake, but that I had gotten into inspection because, when I was a passenger entry door rigger, I had seen how some inspectors would not even walk onto the plane before they bought jobs off, or would buy them off without inspection based on who the mechanic doing the job was. I said I realized now that what I thought was incompetence at the time was the way the Boeing Quality System was supposed to be. He agreed. I said that the company should change it’s motto from QCDSM (Quality before Cost before Delivery before Safety before Morale) to DCSQM, or some such thing. He said that it was a balance. If we inspected too much, then the cost would be too high and no one would buy it. If we inspected too little, then no one would buy it. I didn’t really fathom how a $27 an hour inspector taking an extra 10 minutes to look at a drawing on an inspection would significantly increase the cost of the airplane, considering the vendor provided engine core we built up was worth (X) million dollars, I guess, on average. He said that if we had time to inspect, we inspected, but if we didn’t have time, we "adjusted our inspection processes." He had said earlier in the meeting "I cannot tell you to (roller stamp)", but yet he just had, although in coded language.
He told me that, since I told him that I had not gotten any feedback from the leads, that he wanted me to talk to (name), the only lead I trusted, early next week and that we would meet again next Wednesday. He then said "All of this is to stay in this room." It was easy to see why he wanted that. That was the meeting.
After I got up and left the room I sort of felt like I was in some sort of "Twilight Zone" episode. What I had heard (name) say in that room jibed with everything I had heard and experienced everywhere I had worked in the past as a line inspector, and even as a mechanic. What he had described was the clearest, most faithful description of the BCAG Quality System I had ever heard. No, I’m not talking about the BCAG Quality System that is documented in the FAA-approved D6-1979-( ) BCAG Quality Manuals that our QA managers publicly say we operate to, but the unwritten BCAG Quality System, the corrupt system we really were expected to perform our inspection jobs to, the Quality System that the Boeing Company operated to when the FAA was not looking. It was the Quality System that the Company would have if there was no FAA, but the Company was so brazen that it still operated to it’s own unwritten Quality System right under the FAA’s noses. This System was only maintained in the BCAG QA manager community, probably only by word-of-mouth, for they could not risk writing it down for obvious reasons. I had heard the same System communicated to me in subtle ways and not-so-subtle ways from nearly all of my QA Supervisors over the years. They had given me bits of it here, and bits of it there. For the more unethical parts of it they had made sure they had given it to me one-on-one to afford them "plausible deniability" in case I attempted to expose it, such as (name) had. But no one except (name) had sat me down and actually laid the whole corrupt System all out in front of me at one time.
I had always "watched my back" to prevent this, the requisite verbal warning meeting before I was written up, from happening, due to the Mfg Supervisors seeming vendetta against me and the few inspectors like me at PSD, but I had always held out hope that my management would protect my freedom to do my job. I knew that was not possible due to the corrupt, unwritten BCAG Quality System. It was this System that allowed the Company to control line inspectors so they did not step out of line, as I had done, and interfered with the delivery schedule by a naive belief that we were to work to the FAA-approved Quality System that was only for public consumption. I decided, sitting in my vehicle outside my wife’s work that day, to finally take this action.
You may be thinking, is that all he’s got? Why is he bothering me with this? It’s just one bad QA Supervisor, why doesn’t he just take it up with the ethics department? Why does he say the whole BCAG Quality System is corrupt because of this one supervisor? Sadly, it’s not limited to just this meeting, to just this QA supervisor, or to just PSD’s Quality System. It’s definitely BCAG-wide, as shown by the totality of every experience I’ve ever had as an inspector at BCAG.
(Name) is one in a long line of what I consider, and I think any unbiased person would consider, unethical and corrupt QA supervisors I have had the misfortune to work with. At least, after the meeting, I knew why they were all so consistent in their methods.
Remember how I left off in my recount of my inspection experience at the 777 Wing Stub Body Join area? To illustrate that (name) is not alone in his philosophy, by far, among QA Supervisors, I’ll recount another eerily similar meeting I had with my QA Supervisor of the time, (name), that happened, yes, also in BCAG, but some five years ago, and at the Everett Site of BCAG some 25 miles north, not at PSD."
End of quote. Opens your eyes a bit too, huh? Unfortunately, QA supervisors at Boeing have not improved since that time, and may in fact have gotten more focused on Boeing's bottom line and less focused on what their jobs should be--ensuring the integrity and compliance of Boeing's quality system. Indeed, most often my last QA supervisor's first words to me as he walked up to me was, "Gerry, are you making big money for the company today?" When I was at Flight Test QA, one of my QA Supervisors used to walk down the hall loudly exclaiming, "are we making money yet!" Now that you know about my experiences with QA managers at Boeing, it should not surprise you at all when I tell you the state of Boeing's quality system itself. By the way, you'd think that the QA supervisor who, in the quote, gave me the "facts of life" of the corrupt quality system at Boeing, would have at a minimum been disciplined when the FAA chose not to investigate his conduct and I reported it to Boeing's chief counsel at the time at Boeing Headquarters in Chicago for internal investigation. However, that was not the case at all. In fact, the noted QA supervisor received a hefty promotion instead!
The Last Inspector