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 was excited. That was the area I had worked in as a mechanic first on the 777 Program. I knew some of the installations extremely well, as I had done them myself before.
Anyway, as I’ve come full-circle, beginning with my discussion of my inspection experience in the 777 Wing Stub Body Join area, and back to that area again, I’ll leave the rest my experience there for a little bit later. Back to my inspection experience at PSD:
If an installation was unfamiliar to me, I would read the applicable portions of the specification before buying the job, as I have always done as an inspector, from that day on the skin lap job. My experience documenting the frequently occurring damage from fastener installation in the Wing Center Section of the 777 had given me a thorough knowledge of what acceptable and rejectable damage limits were per the Boeing specifications. I also was rotopeen certified while in Everett to inspect repair of the damage we had found in the WCS.
When I was rotated to the 737 EBU (Engine Build-Up) line, I was appalled at all of the damage, rejectable by Boeing standards, on the 737 engines when I gave them a receival inspection. I had heard of cases where seemingly minor damage had developed into cracks in the WCS in service. That was why we had documented damage so well in that area, I believed. I couldn’t believe that the amount of damage I was seeing was just being ignored by PSD inspectors. The engines and struts were "high vibration areas" for obvious reasons. I knew, as a layman, and from anecdotes I had heard over the years as a mechanic and inspector, that vibration and stress could turn gouges and dents and deep scratches into cracks. I documented the damage that didn’t meet Boeing specifications on Rejection Tags, or NCRs, I don‘t remember which was being used at the time, I believe it was Rejection Tags. I realized that other inspectors had not been writing this, I thought, significant damage up when I was spoken to by the resident (engine vendor) representative at the time, shortly thereafter, whose name escapes me. Anyway, I knew that the suppliers, for their own designed hardware, worked to their own specifications and drawings, and that Boeing specifications generally did not apply to their product unless they had adopted them through an agreement, such as an OPSP, with Boeing. However, PSD inspectors had no access to these supplier specifications and drawings unless the supplier provided them in response to a request. So, in absence of the availability of the supplier damage limits, I always used the Boeing damage limits, and placed my trust in the QA Validators, (name), (name), and (name), to kick the tag back for cancellation if they later obtained info from the supplier that the damage was within the supplier specifications. I had no time to wait for the supplier to provide information as the 737 EBU line moved so fast, that the engine would be out the door before they got us the information, so I documented the damage.
Of course, my tags were never routed back for cancellation due to the supplier providing info later to (name), (name), or (name) that the damage was O.K. I assumed that was because their specifications also stated that the damage was rejectable, and therefore there was no supplier specification or drawing they could have provided us to cancel the tag or give us the supplier definition of rejectable damage with which to inspect.
Anyway, the (engine vendor) rep told me that damage to the engine up to (dimension) was acceptable per (engine vendor) specifications after the engine test run. I said great, show me the specification and I’ll stop writing up damage that was (dimension) and under. He never provided the documentation to me. (The engine vendor) soon sent out a team to see the damage that was being received at PSD, and to see what criteria I inspected to. The engines soon started to arrive in markedly better condition. I felt proud to have almost single-handedly caused the quality of those engines to improve so much.
I assumed that the verbal comments from suppliers that certain damage was acceptable was probably the reason, among other things such as carelessness, apathy, etc., that the other inspectors wouldn’t write up such damage on the engines or struts. They had probably been told similar "verbals" as I had been told by suppliers, and instead of asking for documentation as our QA Manual required, they would simply accept what the supplier said as fact. This one instance, and several others, had taught me it was unwise to accept just a suppliers word as gospel.
Another prime example: One day, several months ago, my lead, (name), and (name) (I think that‘s his correct name, he retired shortly after the meeting), a supplier representative from (name), a supplier of thrust reversers to (engine vendor) for 747 and 767 airplanes, who then supplied the thrust reversers to Boeing. (name) and (name) discussed with me the multiple areas of damage to the hinges I was writing up on almost every thrust reverser received. Some of the damage was in excess of (dimension) deep, I believe. (A few of the NCRs I wrote on that damage were...and...) They both said how Boeing was buying those thrust reversers as is, and we shouldn’t be writing up the damage, as it "had been accepted at (the vendor) that way, by (vendor) inspection." I found it hard to believe any inspector would pass off such damage to their customer. I knew that Boeing inspectors didn’t have any right to bless rejectable damage as O.K. without MRB authority to do so per the FAA-approved Quality System. I said that there were no MRB stamps by the damage that indicated it was accepted, and I would need to see the documentation of that damage being accepted from (the vendor) before I would ignore it.
I was never provided that documentation, because it didn’t exist. A couple months later, the QA Supervisor of the thrust reverser area of (the vendor) came to PSD to spend a few days with me to see what I looked for when I received the thrust reversers so he could take that info back with him to the Mfg plant for product improvement. (The engine vendor) and (th thrust reverser vendor) were up in arms over all of the defects I, a notoriously "thorough" PSD inspector, was finding on their T/Rs, that less thorough inspectors previously assigned to the area hadn’t found. They thought they had some huge quality breakdown, whereas it was really only thorough me, with my trusty kneepads, "going where no lazier PSD inspector had viewed before." He watched me look over several thrust reversers. I told him I was just looking for shipping damage, but I also would write up anything that caught my eye during the inspection, and I also would check again for past escape recurrences. The T/Rs at that point were coming in without the hinge damage, as they were being repaired at (the vendor) before shipment. I asked him what had caused all of the damage on the T/R hinges, as I hadn’t heard. He said that they had a check fixture at (the vendor), that they loaded the completed T/R into before they shipped it, that was causing the damage, and it had not been caught before shipment. I felt vindicated, but still didn’t appreciate being lied to by my lead and the supplier rep.
Anyway, I always used the same ethic in documenting internal supplier (Wichita struts, for example), and external supplier defects while an inspector at PSD, even up until the present day. This didn’t make me very popular with some suppliers. I assume it was from one of these unhappy suppliers that (name) and (name), Corrective Action Unit investigators, had heard me described as "the inspector from hell." I knew I was far, far, from being that. (Name) told me not to worry about it, as she had been similarly described when she was an inspector.
I didn’t accept just "verbals" from suppliers, as I knew some of the suppliers, particularly (engine vendor), were unethical. They were so "under the gun" by Boeing Manufacturing due to the short build times on the 737 EBU, that when I would flag defects on their engines (I found much more than just damage. Missing safety devices were another write-up, and riding tubing, loose connectors, etc.) with tape, they sometimes had the MRB-required defects fixed before I had completed the tag documenting the defects, which was not legal per our procedures. It was unauthorized rework. I was nice and believe I only documented the defects, not the unauthorized rework part.
The Last Inspector