This quote is also from my first report to the FAA local MIDO office, when I was naive and chose not to believe all those press reports about the FAA being the "handmaiden of the aviation industry" and a "tombstone agency." This quote is from the section of my report noted in the first quote below that I deleted to make that quote shorter and I stated that I may quote later. This quote from that section details my history as an inspector at Boeing, and some of the other corrupt Boeing QA supervisors I've worked for over the years:
I had long known that my ethic of attempting to actually do my job of inspection to the FAA-approved Quality Procedures would get me into trouble. And I’m not talking even remotely about a "dot your i’s and cross your t’s" type of adherence to procedures. I’m talking about only a very basic, even minimal, level of adherence to procedures, such as actually performing an inspection that you accept, or inspecting an unfamiliar installation to a drawing before you buy something off. Even though I had a reputation as one of the most thorough inspectors in my area, I knew I was still far from doing my job of inspection the way it should be done, as described in the FAA-approved BCAG Quality Manual. I had long subconsciously, if not consciously, known that if I had attempted to follow the methods of inspection in the manual explicitly, then I would not be employed at Boeing now.
Did I inspect every tube for correct part number on huge plumbing jobs? No. I generally would only check the major components, valves and actuators, for correct part number on the larger jobs. If a tube P/N was easily visible, so be it, I would check it to the plan and/or drawing. Would I read every line of the job every time I inspected it? No. That was impossible on the jobs that were book-like. I looked them over well on the first inspection, and prayed our Manufacturing Engineering department would put...notes on the jobs when they changed. Did I check every mechanics certifications every time I inspected a job? No. No line inspector did. Mechanics certification expiration dates were not posted in the shop generally, and when they were they had been prepared by Mfg Management, making their validity suspect anyway. If I suspected a mechanic was uncertified I would check. Only recently we got a complex web-based system that showed employee certifications, and no one had taught us how to use it, though I could use it, if I had the time. Anyway, I knew none of my coworkers were checking more than I was.
I had honed my inspection methods over the years to be as efficient as possible, while still assuring the quality and conformity of the job to the greatest extent possible under the Quality System I was dealt. I had always known that inspectors were "under the gun" from their own management, and especially Manufacturing Management, for the timely performance of their duties. No one, Manufacturing or Quality Management, seemed to care much if we performed our duty of actually inspecting the product, but they both sure seemed to care if they thought you were taking too much time in doing it. I had always known that, since my first day as an inspector, and I guess even prior to that. So I had honed my inspection skills to only include things I thought I knew were the essential things I needed to do, to keep my management, and Mfg management, off of my back. These included such things as inspecting the installation of every part installed by a job, and referring to drawings and specifications if I didn’t remember an applicable section of them to do with the job.
Similarly, on receival and shakedown inspections I had the same ethic. I would look the whole product over, both inside and out, using a mirror, in addition to my flashlight, to ensure I viewed the entire product I was buying off. I knew other inspectors were not doing this, but I did it because I thought it was a very basic part of my job, and I did it consistently.
I have always been a "big guy" since being hired at the Boeing Company, but I never let it slow me down or deter me from doing my inspections thoroughly, as that was what I was being paid to do. I got on my knees and walked on them without pads if the distance was short enough. I used pads if I knew I would be walking on my knees long distances. ((name), fitcheck mechanic can vouch for my habit of "getting down and dirty as it takes", like this, to do my inspections.) I got on my back on the floor when necessary. I would roll around on the floor when necessary (at least being a "big guy" made that part easier for me than the lighter inspectors).
Mechanics would often kid me about these "do anything it takes to get the job done" habits, and would tell me I should wear pads as they thought walking on the knees was painful without them. I told them it didn’t bother me. Anyway, I knew I was just looking for shipping damage on receival inspections while inspecting these previously accepted parts. Still, I would make sure I looked at the whole product anyway, and I would document any damage or any other obvious items I found on the appropriate nonconformance form.
This, I thought basic, work ethic resulted in me finding more defects than inspectors who would do just a cursory "walk around" viewing of the exterior of the product, barely bending over to look at the product, not "getting down and dirty" like me. (Name), my QA lead, was the worst of the "walk around" inspectors when he would help out inspecting receivals in the Strut Shop.
I would occasionally get comments (from) (my QA Lead) commenting on the kinds and number of defects I would write up on receival inspections of the struts. He said I should only be looking for shipping damage, implying I was to ignore everything else I saw. At that time, the strut receival jobs were written, and still may be written in some cases due to our notoriously awful planning department, to state that we were to inspect for much more than just shipping damage on the receivals. (My QA Lead) had the jobs changed to only call out a shipping damage inspection.
I asked (my QA Lead) if, since we only were inspecting the struts for shipping damage, if we could only inspect the exterior of the strut for that damage prior to the shop removing the strut fairings and access panels, as there was no way for shipping damage to occur inside the strut during shipment. That would have really sped up the inspections for me, the thorough inspector, but not much for his kind. No, he said, we still had to look inside the strut for the receival inspections.
(My QA Lead) having the jobs changed to inspect for only shipping damage, and his comments implying that we should only write up shipping damage, never changed my inspection method, however. If, during my usual inspection of the entire product for shipping damage, I saw something that wasn’t shipping damage, I still would always document it, as in my entire inspection career I had always documented every MRB-type defect I had seen during my inspections, except when told not to by my QA Supervisor.
I had a similar ethic of trying to be thorough and at least view all of the product I could see, even the vendor provided portion, on shakedown inspections. Other inspectors seemed only to focus on the part of the product we built. I knew that shop had in the past removed vendor parts they shouldn’t have while doing their jobs, and that the reinstallation of those unauthorized removals never was completed, resulting in in-service problems (leaks) on a 777 EBU (Turbofan Engine Build-Up) ((name), fellow line inspector, I think found that problem originally, on the 777 EBU line). I also knew that shop could damage vendor parts during Boeing work.
As you can see, since my requested transfer to the Propulsion Systems Division of the Boeing Company, my belief in the BCAG Quality System and my work ethic quickly earned me a reputation of being a thorough inspector who did his job, and did it consistently. This reputation came mostly from the fact that I actually attempted to perform the inspections to the specifications and drawings, while most of the other inspectors did not. Due to my work ethic, while other inspectors would surf the net or engage in idle conversation between inspections, I would try to improve my knowledge, and what I thought as my value as an inspector, by studying specifications or procedures I didn‘t know. I had not done many systems inspections before, so I did not know some of the specifications used at PSD well (such as wiring and tubing specifications), and had used Production Illustration drawings very little at the Everett site where I had first gotten into inspection.
The Last Inspector