Interesting Email I Sent to the FAA in Mid-2002 When it Looked Like the FAA Would Investigate Boeing Corruption Per My 5/02 Report, But FAA and Boeing Corruption Ultimately Prevailed
The following email was to Tim Vranna, who at the time was the managing "Senior Aviation Safety Inspector" who worked just under Kevin Mullin, at the time the FAA's Northwest Regional Manufacturing Inspection District Office Manager. "Ms. Lipski," was Vi Lipski, at the time Manager of the Transport Airplane Directorate, above Mr. Mullin.
From: GERRY EASTMAN
Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2002 11:14 PM
Subject: Letter request.
During our last phone conversation you requested a copy of the letter I received from FAA headquarters. You will find it attached. The signature on the letter is of Margaret Gilligan, Deputy Associate Administrator for Regulation & Certification, for Nicholas A. Sabatini, Associate Administrator for Regulation & Certification (see website www.faa.gov/avr/ if you have not associated with them in the past and you would like more information on their piece of the FAA pie). As you can see, the issue to be investigated is "your concerns of the (sic) Quality Assurance Management at the Boeing Company Commercial Airplane Group." In my letter to Administrator Garvey, I made it very clear that my concerns were about the Quality Assurance Management corruption at BCAG, not so much the havoc that corruption has caused to the BCAG Quality System, although that damage too must be documented and remedied, along with the management corruption that caused it. Hopefully your investigation is following those lines. My meeting with Tom Nakamichi on 1/11 and my email to Soheila Khosravani, among many other things in my report bear out that my allegations you confirmed were not simple oversights by an incompetent management, but were intentional acts in violation of the law to "create more value" (make more money for Boeing's bottom line by defrauding our customers and you) via noncompliance with inspection requirements to be performed on our safety critical products.
Regarding our last phone conversation, I still reiterate that I do not believe any sabotage of our Quality System by BCAG QA Management should be considered a "trade secret" and therefore kept out of your report to me. Crimes can never be considered "trade secrets" in my view. You, the FAA, has the power to make both Airbus and Boeing play to the same rules--and those rules should be all above board and non-criminal. And they should especially not be criminal behavior, as I have detailed in my report, that results in possible past and future loss of many lives. I reiterate my staunch belief that individuals must pay heavy criminal and civil penalties for such QA Management corruption. That is the only way, If BCAG QA Management is left in place, to make QA Managers think twice before they similarly sabotage the QA System for profit again.
I realize it is difficult to investigate the very people that you may have had very amiable personal relationships with before my report. It is difficult to put aside feelings that "such a nice person" could have been lying to you all of the time when they told you they were doing their best to fix your concerns, when in reality they were dragging their feet on reforms while other QA Management was at work trying to hobble the BCAG QA System further for "value." But past relationships must be put aside and the pure, hard data, like I have presented to you, looked at to find the truth in your investigation. I know how hard that can be. I had not wanted to believe the reality I have lived every day in the corrupt BCAG Quality System until Tom thrust that System in my face to view in all its unholy glory.
You might have wondered what experiences I have had while at Flight Test, across the street from PSD. You might have wondered if being in a different area of the BCAG QA System might have changed my belief, drawn from past personal experiences, that the BCAG QA System's corruption is systemic, across all of BCAG. If I was asked, "Has your past experience of systemic BCAG Quality System corruption been debunked by your transfer to Flight Test Inspection," I would not be able to say no, but I would have to say "hell no!" My desk is stationed in the Flight Test Lead office, a perfect position to keep track of the health of the Flight Test Quality System. And what I have heard in my short time there is not pretty, in the least. This is only the few things I can remember off the top of my head:
1. Engine runs are not being added to the Engine Logs (in effect, Boeing is lying about how much time is on the engines because of this). It is not a great amount of time, I guess, that an engine is tested on the ground, but I'm sure it adds up, especially on long test programs, or troubleshooting or testing engines on production aircraft (737 N2 tone comes to mind).
2. Shop routinely begins work before removals, work sheets, and NCM NCOs are written. When I said something about some struts I heard had been worked on without paper to authorize the work, an Airworthiness Inspector in the opposite cubicle said "Get over it. This is Flight Test."
3. When NT386 came in from Renton, apparently the pilots left the antiskid system off, burning up some tires on landing. During the troubleshooting and rework of that, a rudder message appeared on the maintenance display. It was checked out, and found to be a "hand tight" bolt in the rudder PCU system. I believe they also found a similar hand tight bolt in the Aileron system, also, on the supposedly fully inspected, flyable airplane. I know, and you probably know, that this is not the first instance of its kind on Renton roller stamped products.
4. (Name), Airworthiness Inspector, said that his counterparts in Everett were allowing shop to do work without work sheets, and that "they would really be fucked" (his words) if you audited them.
5. You'd think these Airworthiness Inspectors would know what the hell they were doing, considering almost all of them have at least fifteen years with the Company. However, it seems not a day goes by when I don't hear them arguing between each other or among shifts as to what is the correct way to do their jobs, which they should know by now. It's the same old thing Tom told us about--"crews tearing themselves apart," with the inspectors who still believe in their jobs (like me) and the inspectors who don't care how or if they do their jobs (the ones that QA Management is on the side of) sparring, with QA Management rooting for the "roller stamper" team. Do they step in and help the good QA in the fight as they ethically should? Hell no. They laugh on the sidelines as they watch inspectors like me get beaten up. A day or two ago it was the laughably simple subject of whether to write NCRs or REOs on BBJs. They kept arguing whether it was a delivered airplane or not. Eventually they found out it was still a Boeing airplane, even if BBJ had possession of it. So they had been writing REOs on BBJs apparently for quite some time, in error, as it was not a repair station airplane yet.
6. The QA Supervisor's main function at Flight Test seems to be to make sure there is not too many inspectors per airplane, which is the QA Supervisor's main trick to keep inspectors from really inspecting the airplane. They always seem shorthanded, and they loan out inspectors to Everett or Spares at the earliest opportunity to keep their headcount down. Of course, as always, inspection supervision is only concerned about how many hours an inspector spends on an airplane, not whether the inspector has enough time to inspect the jobs adequately. Once again, they are not doing their jobs, but only their boss's, Manufacturing Supervision's jobs, in only ensuring hourly beancount forecasts are not exceeded, and not ensuring their real jobs, ensuring Quality, are done. Like production QA, Flight Test QA spends more time trying to get rid of their inspectors than ensuring they do their jobs. Like self inspection in production QA, Flight Test QA Management is spending their time formulating schemes to get rid of the useless roller stamping inspectors after they trained them that way. It's something called "AML" and I don't know much about it.
7. (Name), A 34 year Boeing employee constantly gripes about what QA Management is doing to the former integrity of the QA Department, lamenting that "they have taken our power away to do anything." I guess he means that QA has become nothing more than a shell department that only looks like it is overseeing the work of Manufacturing. We have no power to actually do our jobs. I know that well. You know what happened to me when I tried to do my job. He is a mine of information.
8. Wonder of wonders! It is so uncanny how PSD was just a perfect example of the corruption of the rest of BCAG's Quality System. Guess what? The first two, and so far the only (they haven't called me back again yet (funny, that)) composite repair I have inspected at NBF (North Boeing Field) resulted in me having to write two FRR supplements for, guess what--insufficient cure of the parts! They were undercooked a full 30 minutes I believe, among other defects in the cure, and I could tell by the composite technician's reaction that no one had written up a discrepant cure before, just like at PSD!
So, I guess I'll leave it at that for now. As I said in my original 49 page report, I could go on forever about such items if I really tried to remember everything that happened recently, but I'll stop for now.
Feel free to call me on the cell phone, or any of the multiple other ways I gave you to contact me. I hope, in our last phone conversation, that your only investigating my "specific allegations" that were contrary to a specific FAA requirement did not mean you were giving yourself an out from investigating the items in my report that may require extra effort on your part to investigate. Remember, even though the FAA perhaps does not require a reallocation letter on engines or Unit Issue items, the FAA does require that we build our airplanes per type design, which lack of such reallocation letters would jeopardize. Also, I think I, and the public, deserve an unbiased and thorough investigation regardless of what you think of me or BCAG QA Managers personally. Let the chips fall where they may. The days of promoting the U.S Aviation Industry are over. Safety of the public is now our chief concern.
In a meeting a few months ago at PSD, Tom said that you were close to pulling our PC. That kind of shocked me, as it obviously had nothing to do with my report at that time. I trust, if that was true, that with your investigation of my report, that such drastic action can at least be done in PSD's case while you are investigating the rest of BCAG with what you have learned in your investigation to confirm it's systemic proportions. Shutting PSD down for several weeks while its Quality System is reconstructed from scratch and put under ethical management will definitely get the attention of the entire BCAG Management team, especially if you do not allow them to shift the work elsewhere.
I still think I deserve the chance to review Scott Peterson's responses to your letter confirming items in my report to give my opinion on the validity and appropriateness of their accusations/corrective actions. Please let me know when that opportunity comes. Please share this with Ms. Lipski as you think appropriate.
On rare occasions as a Boeing worker, your manager may actually express appreciation for your workgroup as being the company’s “most valuable asset.” The deluded in your group may actually feel your manager is expressing some genuine acknowledgement of the value of your workgroup’s hard work to the company itself. You know better, however.
The company calling their workers “their most valuable asset” shows its true meaning for the company in times like these, when the company's true value for their workers is laid bare for all to see.
The IAM (my union, of which I am still a member of even while “excommunicated” from Boeing for outing some of the bloodier skeletons in their closet to, unfortunately for the public, “Boeing owned” authorities and politicians) is now going through negotiations with the self described “most arrogant company on the face of the planet,” and Boeing’s arrogance is showing in full force during the process.
Despite a record 13 billion in profits over the last six years, the company is insisting on takeaways from union members in their “Best and Final Offer.” The medical plans proposed are riddled with them, despite medical cost increases moderating over the past few years from past excesses. They are even so “bottom line” and anti-worker focused that their contract denies workers a 40 cent per hour wage increase they would have gotten this month if the current contract had remained in force. They are taking advantage of the contract expiration to screw their “most valuable asset” in every way they can, in the proverbial ass, nonetheless.
This shows exactly what Boeing means by calling their workers to their faces their “most valuable asset”—they are not inferring that Boeing Management values their workers in any way other that financially—it is merely an expression of what is chiefly on Boeing Management’s minds when it relates to their workers, and especially unionized workers, who they cannot just pay whatever they wish to pay without negotiating with their representatives first.
Boeing views their workers as just numbers—financial numbers. Each is easily replaceable in Boeing’s view and has no value individually as a person to arrogant and heartless Boeing Management. Boeing saying workers are their “most valuable asset” is not a complement to workers in any respect. It is just an acknowledgement by Boeing that it considers that the costs of pay and benefits for its workers are one of the largest line items in its budget, and therefore something it must cut in cost and numbers with the ruthlessness it has shown in the current IAM negotiations where their true view of employees as each having a target on their back for elimination has come into full view for all to see.
In fact, Boeing treats its employees like numbers almost every working day except yearly “family days,” where employees are showed how much they are valued by being offered the chance to come in on one of their few weekend days off to get free hotdogs and nearly valueless trinkets from Boeing suppliers for the kids.
Boeing managers even speak of employees like dirt and corpses, literally. Replacing employees who have left the company is called “backfilling.” When Boeing is behind on a program they speak of “throwing enough bodies at the problem to get back on schedule.” They could use different terms that denoted they cared about their workers in these unguarded moments, but they do not. It is the Boeing corporate culture to treat their employees as valueless and worthless, except when it comes to the company money that they rue has to be spent on such mere “bodies.”
With the IAM negotiations, Boeing’s hardball tactics to pay not one more cent than they think they can possibly get away with is laid bare, laying bare their true lack of any respect for their workforce in the process.
Leading these negotiations on the part of Boeing is Doug Kight, a lawyer from Boeing’s infamously law breaking Boeing Legal Department. Mr. Kight was one of the senior attorneys there. He quite likely may know where all of the “bodies” are buried as far as Boeing’s “closet” full of skeletons goes. Being part of the Boeing Legal Department makes him part of a highly unethical group of lawyers that takes Boeing’s power and unequaled arrogance and then doesn’t advise Boeing on how to stay within the law, as you might expect such an in-house legal department to do, but they instead advise Boeing on how to go about continuing to break the law, as I have noted elsewhere on my site. This malpractice of the law makes these lawyers accessories to the law breaking they are abetting.
But with the full arrogance and power of the Boeing Company behind them and depending on them to continue to find ways for Boeing to push the envelope of corruption for further bottom line gains, these complicit attorneys apparently have little to worry about in being held accountable personally for such complicity. In fact, the opposite is true. Look at Mr. Kight's and other Boeing inside and outside attorney's houses and you will find that there are great rewards in so consistently helping the company do the wrong thing and leaving wrecked lives and our national security in the dust.
So, the union likely knew just what it was up against when Boeing assigned one of its best “bag men” as its chief negotiator. There is a reason Boeing calls one of its own programs for employees the “e-legal” program. And that reason is their total absence of any respect for the law due to their arrogance. When they were caught selling illegally militarily sensitive guidance chips (that could be removed and “reverse engineered" for use for more accurate and reliable missiles) as components of airliners to China and other proscribed countries, Boeing did not comply with our country's State Department’s demands for them to stop doing so without the required export licenses. They essentially just told our State Department to “shove it” and kept delivering that technology illegally as part of airliners to proscribed countries just so they could meet their delivery schedules and revenue and profit goals, our national security be damned.
I have been through three strikes in my Boeing career. All were strikes that never had to happen if the company would have just sat down and negotiated in good faith with the union. Instead, Boeing avails itself of its habit of breaking regulations and laws by engaging in only surface bargaining, then just throwing down a months before written BAFO on the table at the last moment and telling the union to take it or leave it.
They also engage in other illegal activities such as what the union just exposed: Negotiating with individual workers rather than the union by in essence polling individual workers on what the minimum they would accept would be.
They do this not only because of their arrogant disdain for following the laws and regulations, but also for their goal of getting the best contract they could get for their own personal goals (management’s) approved via the best outcome they could envision—a vast majority of workers voting against the contract but just a few votes over one third of those workers voting not to strike, resulting in the contract the workers don’t want being accepted by default by the union as they cannot under those circumstances call a strike to force the company back to the negotiating table.
The company could care less if the vast majority of workers would be pissed off and resent the company for such an outcome. After all, worker morale has never been a real concern of Boeing management—getting the absolute cheapest possible “bodies” to do the work for the money is, instead. They are confident their corrupt management can “crack the whip” and make disaffected workers do their jobs despite poor morale. After all, they are just BEMS ID’d numbered “bodies” to Boeing Management, any and all replaceable with a cheaper worker per the contract’s overly long and steep progression step increases if the senior workers at full pay rates can be made angry enough to leave.
Hopefully the workers will have sense enough to vote against this purposely low balled contract by Boeing and strike for their dignity and the interests of themselves as well as the other workers at Boeing and in the community whose wages and benefits are highly influenced by this IAM contract.
They will need good luck and hard work and sacrifice against the forces of arrogance, greed, and lawlessness that is the Boeing of today. I have helped more than most in last strikes. This time I won’t be able to be there, sadly. A good union man, I've never even thought about crossing the line. With Boeing, however, crossing any line, legal or not, to reach management’s personal financial goals is par for the course.
Now you know where the real greed lies--and it isn't with the union. Many non-thinking people of modest means have been brainwashed into believing Boeing workers are lazy and greedy and should be thankful for whatever scraps Boeing throws them, and if they don't like that, they should just leave their jobs rather than try to improve them. Such people are the worst miscreants among us. They have been raised to be management bootlickers and they will forever hold that lowly place and decry any worker who does not also bow down to their management and also lick their "boots." That is the workforce that we need to get rid of in this country--not the fine fighting machinists that have even raised those lowly miscreant bootlickers' wages by their bravery and sacrifice in standing up to their corrupt and greedy management.
(Later comment--Sometimes you re-read your stuff and are amazed. Perhaps too emotional at the end. Taking the other people's misinformed side in an argument is not always wise. We need the union haters here to help pay taxes for the stuff they supported, such as the Iraq War. Maybe some day they will lose their irrational hate for unions. But there is always a cure for the "union problem" if those who want them to go away really want them to go away--treat workers fairly and with the respect they are due. Unfortunately companies like to take advantage of their workers in being Scrooge-like with pay, benefits, and raises, as well as taking advantage of the management-employee relationship to take their personal problems out on their employees. Until companies begin to do right by their workers, there will always be a market for unionization. That is capitalism, which some capitalists seem to ignore. Unions are the hired representatives of the workers they serve.)
The Last Inspector