This is a critique of probably the best national/world reporting on the disaster that is the 787, as well similar frauds that also are deeply embedded in all other Boeing programs.
Done by intrepid reporter/producer Will Jordan, it is mostly a home run of the best reporting traditions out there--including CBS's "60 Minutes." Pro Boeing corruption Islamophobes have discounted it based on its Arabic network name alone, but non-bigots everywhere will see it as the great investigative reporting it is. Some of my excerpts from my various reports to the FAA that bear on aspects of this report are long and detailed, so skim them or read at your discretion. My comments on the story are in BOLD type:
Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787
Al Jazeera Investigates.
Published on Sep 10, 2014
Reporter/Producer: Will Jordan
Narrator (Will Jordan): ... Al Jazeera discovers a dark side to the Dreamliner.
Stan Sorscher: Unimaginable that we could be three years late, have a fleet grounding, have fires on the airplane.
Narrator: Our investigation finds Boeing altered its own quality standards.
Exactly. Boeing "alters its quality standards" all of the time across the entire enterprise, untold (except here) thousands of times per HOUR. It is actually unwritten Boeing QA management policy (up to the Boeing executive management level, from the CEO on down) to do so pretty much all of the time.
Proof of this was in my original January 12th, 2002 letter to the FAA's Kevin M. Mullin (now retired) and his Deputy Tim Vranna of the Transport Airplane Directorate in Renton, Washington:
...Now I can get to the event that happened yesterday, 1/11/02. At approximately 1:45 P.M., Tom Nakamichi, 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...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”...
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)...
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...Nakamichi 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 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 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...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...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...
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)...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 Tom 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 7 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...That was the meeting...
End of my letter to the FAA excerpt.
There you have it. Boeing QA management non-inspection unwritten policy encapsulized. It is Boeing management policy to ensure that all inspectors '“adjust (their) inspection processes” to meet the delivery schedule' and rollerstamp and 'train mechanics' instead of inspecting the airplane to assure the quality and safety thereof.
Will Jordan's reporting only proved what has been Boeing management's unwritten policy for decades. Boeing management only keeps it unwritten because they knew they would be doing prison time if they wrote it down and the Feds got a hold of it.
Cynthia Cole (Former Boeing Engineer): They're shortchanging the engineering process to meet a schedule.
Also standard Boeing mismanagement methodology. Will Jordan also did an excellent report on similar Boeing management abuse of the delegation the FAA improperly gave felonious Boeing management to do formerly FAA performed Boeing design approvals. Boeing has massively abused every authority Boeing corrupted FAA management has given it--both in being delegated the authority to do its own inspections of its production work, and in being delegated former FAA authority to approve its own designs and design changes.
Narrator: We uncover a whistleblower fired as he fought for safety.
Woods: There's no doubt there’s bad repairs going out the door on the 787.
Boeing firing whistleblowers (as they did this whistleblower) is par for their corrupt course. And I can corroborate what this whistleblower found as well, as I often wrote up bad composite repair cures that no other inspectors ever rejected. Proof of this was in my May 30th, 2002 supplement to my original January 12th, 2002 letter to the FAA's Kevin M. Mullin (now retired) and his Deputy Tim Vranna of the Transport Airplane Directorate in Renton, Washington:
Item 58. Please investigate composite repairs at (Boeing) Auburn, Renton, and PSD (Boeing's Propulsion Systems Division, later absorbed into the Boeing Renton and Everett plants), at a minimum, per the information I gave you earlier which I reiterate:
On composite repairs, I, the “thorough inspector”, was the only inspector that would actually inspect the composite repairs...per inspection procedures, before stamping the work off. Because I inspected the work, and prior PSD inspectors had not, the composite repair technicians were very sloppy in their repairs at PSD, as they had always been under “self-inspection” at PSD, in effect, even though we made it look like the work was inspected by stamping the Form X-26942 D6-53900 composite repair record, and NCR that did the work, off. Of course, it may have been that they did their jobs sloppily everywhere they worked. I had only anecdotal information on that, as I inspected only at PSD.
Anyway, I found that often the composite repair technicians would use the wrong composite material to lay up the repairs, or would set their equipment to heat up or cool down the repair too fast during the cure, or record insufficient thermocouple readings than the minimum required. I wrote NCR revisions on these items, as there was no way to fix the errors without ripping out the repairs and starting over. This threw the composite repair mechanics for a loop, as that had never happened to them before at PSD.
One technician, the one who usually did the repairs at PSD, (name), Renton EMF Composites shop A-3934, thereafter would go get my lead of the time, (name), to do the “inspection,” as he didn’t like me inspecting his work, and writing his mistakes up. (Lead name) came out to speak to me about the situation, stating that he had known that composite repair technician for, I believe, a seemingly ridiculous amount of time, like 15 years, and that he “did good work,” implying I should not be looking at his work at all, like him. I said that, “We don’t buy off a mechanic’s work just by who he is, we buy off the work by inspecting the work itself, right?” (My lead), seemingly reluctantly, agreed.
(My lead) was always good at spouting occasionally that things should be done per procedure, demonstrating, occasionally, quite a knowledge of those procedures, but when it came to actually performing his own inspections per those procedures, he ignored them, revving up his “Briggs and Stratton” endowed stamp to the redline in order to “support the delivery schedule.” (Other QA Lead name) didn’t even have that many ethics, as he would tell you to ignore procedures, and then roller stamp. I had somewhat more respect, although it was in the negative range, for (other QA Lead), because at least, in a sick way, he was more consistent in not doing his job...
I wrote bad cures up on the PSD repairs I inspected, even after consulting with (name), the Auburn QA Lead that oversaw the inspectors that worked with (name), composite repair mechanic, whose work I was inspecting on NCR N1810010702, I believe. (name) said that his inspectors had stopped writing similar bad cures up at the Auburn Site, as the disposition of the tags always came back “structurally and functionally acceptable” to engineering.
I knew that that didn’t absolve QA from having to write up the tags, as “structurally and functionally acceptable” meant it was still a discrepant part, and the only organization that could allow such products to be used, by “structurally and functionally acceptable” dispositions, was Engineering. I ignored his ignorant or careless method and always wrote bad cures up at PSD, before the composite repair technicians bypassed me, because, as I stated earlier, it was always my ethic to get discrepant items fixed, or documented, as required, once they came to my attention.
This just in:
I found a stash of official shop stamped off and QA stamped off Form X-26942 D6-53900 Composite Repair Records that supported work done per NCRs. I checked the NCRs listed on them in NCM, and some of them, but not all, as should have been the case, had been scanned into the NCRs they supported. I looked at the forms, and something curious stuck out. They were all repairs on 737NG (Thrust Reversers), and all of them showed that the composite repair technician used the wrong material to lay up the repairs!
I checked the NCRs again to see if this “substitute material” had been written up on the NCRs on a revision and approved by our PSD engineering and project stress engineering, which is required for repairs done with materials used that are not the same as the drawing required materials per our composite repair document, D6-53900 section 8.1.4.a.(2). Nada. No such approval from engineering or stress on any of them.
Do you think that a (Thrust Reverser) sleeve installed on a 737NG airplane that is probably flying around with people on it right now, with a composite lay-up repair that was done with the wrong material without required engineering approval of that material for the repair, and without the additional required stress approval for use of that material, could be a safety problem? I think so. While the (Thrust Reverser) sleeve might withstand the rigors of flight (or may not, in time), it may blow apart during (Thrust Reverser) deployment when stresses on it might be greater.
But I’m not an engineer. Just a lowly line inspector. I think that these listed repairs are only the tip of the iceberg, obviously, in relation to all of the repairs that probably have been done similarly without full engineering and stress approvals, by at least these two listed composite repair technicians, to unknown parts of unknown criticality to the integrity of the airplane...
All the repairs were made with BMS 8-212 material and should have been made with the drawing and composite repair document required BMS 8-297 material. Please have BCAG send the necessary documentation to the airlines for the airlines to disposition these faulty repairs. Please do not let BCAG do some “global buyoff” by just reviewing these tags in house, that results in no notification to the airlines...Only the first tag listed in the table had a cure printout scanned into NCM, and it showed insufficient thermocouples monitored for inspection and no vacuum applied, if I remember right.
Please get a composite repair expert to look into all the composite repair NCRs done at BCAG in at least the past year to look for similar noncompliances with procedures to get approval from engineering and stress for alterations to established composite repair processes (illegal repairs), and to view scanned in cure printouts for discrepant cures. Please write us up for, what I’m sure will be many, noncompliances during these critical repairs, and ensure BCAG reviews all composite repair NCRs or R/Ts in the past and notifies airlines that may be flying airplanes with bad composite repairs.
Also, require that all inspectors that accept any composite repairs attend a class and be certified annually. While lack of certification of inspectors for composite repairs is not the cause of the above problems--roller stamping and bypassing of ethical inspectors is--certification will increase the knowledge level of all inspectors on composite repair inspection requirements and remove the incompetence excuse from the tool bag of inspectors who roller stamp these inspections.
Another 737NG (Thrust Reverser) was reworked at PSD in the last few weeks by (name), Renton EMF Composites composite repair technician. You probably recognize his name, as it is in the table above. The lay-up repair on the NCR that did the repair, N1490018310, was also done with the wrong material, BMS 8-212, and had only one thermocouple monitored on the printout during the repair, just as all of his prior repairs to 737 (Thrust Reversers) had.
There was one major difference between this most recent repair and all of the prior repairs in which he used the wrong material without the required engineering or stress approval---this one was done after NCR N1490016174, in which I wrote his repair up for using the wrong material and not having enough data to inspect the cure, and after which he went and got (my Lead) to roller stamp his work off.
When I told him he had used the wrong material on NCR N1490016174, had to write a revision to the tag to get it approved, that, at that point, was simply an error, I might believe. But what do you call it when a person intentionally does something wrong to an airplane again, as was done by him on NCR N1490018310, after he was warned it was wrong previously, as he was on NCR N1490016174? Right--sabotage. (Another QA Lead) bought the N1490018310 tag on 1/31/02.
This just in: More sabotage: Another 737NG (Thrust Reverser) was reworked at PSD last week by (name)...and the wrong material was used again without required Engineering and Stress approvals. Reference NCR N1490018763 on the 315A2295-171 S/N 001118 (Thrust Reverser).
End of my FAA report supplement excerpt.
Flying on any Boeing plane is unwise in the extreme, but this should give anyone thinking about flying on a 787 extreme pause, as the 787 uses far more structural composites than other models. As you will see later in this report, 787 production workers have seen such horrors on the 787 production line that they refuse to fly on one. And this likely has a lot to do with what they witnessed either due to bogus composite repairs, covered up composite damage, and composite assembly defects, which are even more critical than the same damage would be in metal structures. As I noted above, I have witnessed fraud and sabotage in composite repairs, which is even worse than the original damage, negating the structural repair during the repair process. There is literally no process, no matter how critical to safety, that endemic Boeing fraud does not touch. And this fraud, sabotage, and product substitution is all enabled by the QA management/inspection fraud this site is about, which is enabled from the Boeing Board of Directors on down.
Narrator: We go behind closed doors, onto the factory floor, to reveal a world Boeing keeps secret.
South Carolina Worker on Undercover Video: I wouldn't fly on one of these planes… because I see the quality of the fucking shit going down around here.
What a ringing endorsement of the 787 production process, right? The workers who see up close the quality and conformity of the work won't risk their lives flying on any of them? There can be no better evidence to avoid flying on a 787 or other similarly Boeing FUBARed production process almost built airplane model than that! Testimony by Boeing workers unaware they are being filmed. Their TRUE personal opinion, uncoerced by Boeing or anybody else.
Narrator: January 16th, 2013. Takamatsu, Japan. A brand-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner makes an emergency landing. Passengers knew the plane was in trouble.
Aoya Kazunori (787 Passenger): I looked outside and saw white smoke. That's when I realized the danger.
Ken'ichi Kawamura (787 Passenger): The burning plastic smell got worse. I thought we were going to crash.
Takeuchi Koji (Fireman): On closer inspection, we observed a blue box that had expanded in size.
Narrator: The blue box was one of the Dreamliner's two lithium ion batteries. The most powerful - and risky - ever permitted on a commercial aircraft.
TV News Broadcast: "It's just the latest in a string of embarrassments for Boeing's state of the art aircraft."
Narrator: Nine days earlier a Dreamliner battery had caught fire in Boston, Massachusetts. Two battery failures in less than two weeks.
TV News Broadcast: "Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines have grounded their fleets of Boeing 787 Dreamliners."
Narrator: Japan airlines and ANA had been the first to fly the Dreamliner. Now they became the first to cancel all flights.
TV News Broadcast: "Breaking news. The United States Federal Aviation…"
Narrator: Within 24 hours, the U.S. safety regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, grounded the 787.
TV News Broadcast: "All 50 of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners have now been grounded…"
Narrator: The rest of the world followed. No Boeing fleet had ever been forced from service. But on January 17, 2013, the dream was over.
Indeed. The 787 development program was a shitshow and still is, probably being the first Boeing commercial airplane at Boeing to not break even or make money since the company's earliest days. Mismanaged from the initial concept by Boeing management that had no experience in producing anything at Boeing other than fraud. And so, the entire program was riddled with fraud, as all modern Boeing programs are. Massively unrealistic R&D budget and development and certification schedule.
Will Jordan: I'm Will Jordan. For a year, my team and I have been investigating the Dreamliner. It's the Boeing Company's big bet on the future… a plane created to save fuel, improve comfort, and boost profits. Built in a new way - designed and manufactured by scores of companies around the globe. The company that makes the battery is GS Yuasa, based in Kyoto. We wanted them to tell us what had gone so wrong.
Will Jordan: Hi, how are you?
Sound of Security Guard in Japanese.
Will Jordan: Al Jazeera.
Security Guard: Al Jazeera.
Will Jordan: We wonder whether you might be able to do an interview?
Will Jordan (Narrator): They refused.
GS Yuasa Spokeswoman: We have a contract with Boeing so we can't. We can't tell any comments to you.
Narrator: The battery is only one part of the Dreamliner's complex electrical system. There's also a charger, made at a factory thousands of kilometers away. What happened there shows Boeing learned years ago just how dangerous a lithium ion battery could be.
Narrator: In Tucson, Arizona, we tracked down Michael Leon, an electrical technician.
Michael Leon (Former Securaplane technician): I've been working electronics since I was 17 years old, and I joined the paratroopers and I was assigned to an electronics battalion of the 82nd Airborne. This is the first time I've been here since, since 2007. It's hard to believe that this is what's left of a three story engineering structure.
Narrator: On a November morning in 2006, Leon and dozens of other workers clocked in at Securaplane, the company that makes the battery charger.
Michael Leon: And I started a pot of coffee, then I went into my lab and started working on my battery charging unit.
Narrator: And then it happened.
Michael Leon: …and there was a very loud explosion and all of a sudden I was lying on the floor and there it was coming out the side of this battery. It was about that big, and it wasn't like fire. It looked like a jet afterburner, like jet exhaust.
Narrator: The prototype battery Securaplane was using to test its charger had exploded.
Kirk Wines (Former Securaplane Technician): I heard a very loud series of metallic rattling bangs. A kind of shhhhhh. And just this jet of steam.
Michael Leon: The fire was literally rolling up the walls around me and, and on the ceiling, I could just see it eating up all around me…
Kirk Wines: I know if that had happened on board an aircraft, there, there would be no chance of survival.
Narrator: It was the biggest chemical fire in Tucson's history. A ten thousand square foot, three-story structure, burnt to the ground.
Richard Lukso (Securaplane founder): …after my building burned down, after that they realized very emphatically the danger of this chemistry.
Narrator: Richard Lukso knows well the chemistry of the Dreamliner battery. Boeing chose the most powerful there is…but also the most volatile.
Richard Lukso: They went to lithium cobalt which is way up here as far as danger.
Narrator: Lukso stepped down as Securaplane President just before the fire. He started a new company to make lithium ion batteries for business jets. Lukso was a true believer in the technology. Then he began testing.
Bullet Test Video: Two, 3.3 amp/hour series battery pack bullet test.
(Video of batteries being shot.)
Narrator: Lukso went beyond even the latest industry guidelines - going so far as to fire bullets into batteries, to see if they could be made safe for military applications.
Richard Lukso: Yeah. You could run the test that you feel that you need to meet the requirements to be safe, but you also need to have a conscience that's going to tell you I want to do the extreme.
Narrator: In the end, testing with a conscience, Lukso couldn't make the batteries meet the requirements. His new company failed.
Boeing management didn't have to worry about "testing with a conscience." They don't have one.
Richard Lukso: …we became proficient in destroying batteries. And, and the more we learned about it, the worse it got. I mean, oh, my God, we kept digging and digging. We were saying I wonder what the rest of the guys are doing. Well, I guess we knew.
Narrator: By “the rest of the guys,” he means Boeing. And they were testing to a weaker standard… one written by the FAA specifically for the Dreamliner. It's the FAA's job to regulate air safety. But when it comes to building airplanes, the FAA delegates oversight almost completely to the aircraft manufacturers. When it comes to the battery and beyond, Boeing largely polices itself. The batteries passed Boeing's tests.
Of course they passed. Boeing Engineering management probably wrote the tests themselves, and the FAA just rubber stamped them as approved. Boeing management and FAA management are hopelessly corrupt, so whatever Boeing management wants from the FAA, they get.
In line with the FAA rules, Boeing said the 787 batteries would virtually never catch fire on board an aircraft. Then, they failed twice in just nine days. Boeing has not uncovered the root cause of the failures. It found a work around: a strong steel case, more insulation, and an exhaust for noxious fumes.
Mike Sinnett (Boeing): …any fire will be impossible because there's not enough oxygen to support combustion.
Narrator: But several leading scientists have their doubts.
Donald Sadoway (MIT): I don't think it's a sufficient fix. Even inside that steel box with all of its fortifications, all of the elements are still there for fire.
Narrator: Despite not knowing the root cause, America's safety regulator, the FAA, was satisfied. And in April 2013, the Dreamliner was back. But this story goes far beyond a burning battery. It begins at Boeing itself.
The FAA was satisfied because Ali Bahrami, Manager of the FAA's Transport Airplane Directorate at the time, intended to cash in on his service to Boeing management with a cushy Quid Pro Quo job after impending retirement from the FAA at a Boeing funded industry group. The "revolving door" at it's worst. All corruption at Boeing in QA, Engineering, and on Boeing DOD contracts in enabled by this "revolving door," though there are likely other felonious inducements as occurred in the Boeing CFO/Druyun affair.
Historical News Footage of Pam Am 707: "This is it. The first American commercial jet capable of economical transatlantic service. The Boeing 707 jet clipper."
Narrator: Since its creation in Seattle nearly a century ago, Boeing had developed a reputation as a world-class engineering company. But in 1997 Boeing changed. It merged with competitor McDonnell Douglas. Two companies with two very different business models.
Stan Sorscher (Former Boeing engineer): The merger was all about transforming our successful culture and business model into the same business model that McDonnell Douglas had used unsuccessfully.
Richard Aboulafia (Aerospace Analyst): You basically shortchange engineering, you stop doing aggressive new product developments; you run the business for cash.
Narrator: The new Boeing moved its headquarters from Seattle, the only home the company had ever known, to Chicago. It began slashing investment in research in order to cut costs and maximize Wall Street returns.
Cynthia Cole (Former Boeing engineer): I felt it was wrong, I felt it was going to take the company in the wrong direction and I thought that quality would suffer and the integrity of the product would suffer.
She was right. The company had rollerstamping fraud throughout before the merger, but after the 1997 merger it was put on steroids through cost cutting, the implementation of Lean Manufacturing, and more willingness by Boeing management to use fraud to meet bottom line and stock option price goals.
Kevin Sanders (Former Boeing Employee): I feel that that legacy and that history and that competence has been hijacked by a bunch of corporate thugs.
Exactly. It was. The company is run by the same "Boeing Mafia" thuggery today.
Narrator: By 2003, it was time to launch a new plane. But Boeing's new board was reluctant to invest the billions needed.
Dominic Gates (Seattle Times Aerospace Reporter): The board made it clear that they wanted this plane made for less money. They wanted it made for five billion dollars. They wanted partners to come in to pay the rest.
Dominic! My partner in "crime" (whistleblowing on the Boeing B-2 composite technology theft in preparation to going public on the Boeing QA management fraud story and other stuff--Boeing tried to make it a crime, and failed). The greatest aerospace reporter there is, and a former friend. I collaborated with him as a source since 9/30/03 until 5/06 or so. Nice to see your collaborator featured on such an important report!
Richard Aboulafia: It's expensive. So how do you make that happen? Well, you promise them that you can do it for less, and then worry about the consequences later.
Narrator: Boeing came up with a plan to save itself money. It would push the costs onto its major suppliers. Boeing would call them partners, and they would design and pay for the parts they built. Boeing's job would be to assemble the plane.
Dominic Gates: It was almost as if at times you thought Boeing executives believed, well, maybe they could sit in Chicago and have other companies do things, and they would just rake in the money somehow by putting it all together and putting a Boeing sticker on it at the end.
Exactly right. It was Boeing management union avoidance as well--the more outsourced outside of its unionized Washington plants, the better, as far as Boeing mismanagement thought.
Narrator: Right on schedule, Boeing rolled out the Dreamliner on Sunday July the 8th, 2007, - 7-8-7.
Tom Brokaw (Former NBC News Anchor): The airlines with us today have made a big commitment to Boeing and to this airplane. So far they have ordered 677 of them.
Richard Aboulafia: I think in a lot of ways, July 8, 2007 was one of the more magical moments I've seen in the industry…
Tom Brokaw: Watching us live around the world, broadcasting I'm told in 45 countries in 9 languages for the premier of this very exciting new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Dominic Gates: We were all inside the factory with artificial lighting, big stage, Tom Brokaw, huge screens… then they opened the doors of this giant assembly bay…
Richard Aboulafia: And in rolls this beautiful, beautiful aircraft.
Dominic Gates: And there it is, sitting in the sun and we all stream outside and we all touch it and none of us noticed.
Lady taking picture of 787: Smile!
Richard Aboulafia: And I'm reassured by the executives involved that it's going to fly within two months.
Man taking picture of 787: One, two, three.
Jon Ostrower (Wall Street Journal Aerospace Reporter): What I realized walking around it is that you could look up in the wheel well and you could see daylight.
Dominic Gates: We learned that the whole thing was a sham!
Mike Bair (787 Program Manager): Beautiful isn't it? Absolutely beautiful.
Mike Bair was the failed Boeing executive that testified in my Boeing sponsored trial.
Dominic Gates: They roll out this fake airplane.
Jon Ostrower: I realized the doors were made of plywood.
Dominic Gates: This plane that we were admiring was completely a shell inside.
James McNerney: None of this would be possible, of course, without exceptional leadership.
Richard Aboulafia: There's only two conclusions you can draw: You have executives there who are either lying, in which case they are completely clueless because they are going to get caught in two months, or you have a complete disconnect between the people who are working on the plane, the engineers, and the executives who are saying this.
James McNerney: And so to each and every member of the 787 global team, I say, 'Thank you, congratulations, and keep up the great work.'
Kevin Sanders: More than any other single event it was the big lie, and it was a statement that the Boeing Company is now all about the big lie.
Exactly. Boeing management is composed of fraudster criminals at all levels. What do criminals do best and most reliably? They Lie. And, yes, this fraudulent 787 rollout and the related lying by Boeing management was a big lie indeed. Especially to investors. The SEC could have put several Boeing executives in prison for the lies they told to investors at the time if they wanted to follow the law and do so. A missed opportunity to hold Boeing executives accountable for one of their crimes, albeit not by far the most serious one they were involved in. After all, defrauded investors still have their lives.
Narrator: The day after the rollout, Wall Street pushed Boeing stock to a ten year high. But it was all about to unravel, as revealed in Boeing's investor calls.
Boeing spokesperson on investor call: Hello and welcome to our quarterly update on the 787 program.
Narrator: September, 2007: Boeing announces its first delay.
Mike Bair: It's not a failure in how the airplane goes together. It's just a really complicated puzzle.
And this whistleblower should have been put in prison for telling the truth? Lying to investors and defrauding them is an actual crime.
Narrator: October, 2007: The three-month delay becomes six months.
Jim McNerney: We wish we didn't have to do this. New kinds of innovation present challenges and we're doing our best to meet them.
Narrator: October, 2009: Six months becomes two years of delays.
Jim McNerney: We know that we can and must do better. And I'm confident that despite our setbacks we will get the 787 through the flight test program and into the hands of our customers.
Dominic Gates: It just kept getting worse and worse and it seemed unbelievable. You have to understand, this was unprecedented. There had never been a Boeing delay in a Boeing program.
Richard Aboulafia: The sequence of events looked an awful lot like a catastrophe rather than just a manageable series of delays.
Narrator: The Dreamliner business strategy was backfiring. Designed to save so much money, it was costing Boeing billions.
32 Billion dollars, in fact. Only 27 billion dollars more than incompetent and corrupt Boeing management forcast it would cost. That's cosmic scale incompetence. Don't worry, however. Boeing executives have a plan to erase their mistake by falling back to their core and only competency--the fraud this site is about.
Dominic Gates: The outsourcing plan failed very badly. All these different suppliers who were going to build these major sections couldn't actually do it.
Narrator: To fix the Dreamliner, Boeing dispatched hundreds of quality inspectors to struggling suppliers around the globe including to its partner Alenia, in Southern Italy.
Doubtful. Boeing probably sent mostly unethical Boeing Engineering and QA management to suppliers to "crack the whip" and get the sections delivered, regardless of quality or conformity. Boeing management to this day cares about cost and schedule of supplied parts, not quality or conformity (except when defective parts cannot be hammered together at assembly, jeopardizing all important schedule, which Boeing has to keep to to get paid on time).
Riccardo Busca (Alenia plant manager): We are just working through the final part of the process.
Narrator: Alenia would take on the task of constructing the body of the plane, not with aluminium panels… but with composite plastic barrels. The main objective: to lose weight, saving fuel and making the 787 cheaper to run. But no one had ever made anything like this before - not Boeing, and especially not Alenia.
Busca: There is nothing comparable with that on the market.
Will Jordan: there's nothing built like this.
Narrator: Boeing's quality inspectors have one overriding priority - to make sure the job is done correctly. In 2009, when inspectors found flaws in parts made in this Alenia plant, they ordered work to stop. A year later, in Alenia's other factory, they again found serious problems and again they ordered work to stop. But this time, managers overruled the quality inspectors. This internal Boeing document, from 2010, reveals executives ordered Alenia to "continue with fabrication… without delay."
This is my only criticism of this excellent report. It is totally clueless in how it describes the priorities of Boeing inspectors. But maybe my site was down when Will did this report. Boeing's quality inspectors have one overriding priority - to ensure the airplane component is bought off on time so it can be moved to the next station on time. I know. For over ten years at Boeing I witnessed that, mostly as an inspector myself. This corruption of QA was so bad at Boeing that when I was inspector there I thought that Boeing Quality Assurance should be renamed to "Shipping Assurance" to reflect what most inspectors and all Boeing QA supervisors thought our actual jobs were. From my noted 1/11/02 report to the FAA:
This almost unheard of ethic in an inspector made me very unpopular with the Manufacturing Leads and Manufacturing Supervisors. No matter how late Manufacturing was per the schedule, I still would do my inspection job the same way every time, while other inspectors would “alter their processes” to help the shop make up lost schedule, such as performing just the shakedown inspection on a strut, and then buying off all of the O&IRs, stating they inspected them for conformity to the drawing, when they hadn’t. Immediately upon arriving at PSD, I noticed how a lot of the PSD inspectors seemed to take almost all of their pride in this “altering of their processes” to help shop make up schedule. Some seemed more concerned that the product would ship on the scheduled day than the mechanics themselves, and their leads and supervisors. The phrase “ship day”, when spoken, was treated, by some inspectors, like the word “charge” to the military. They did whatever it took to get the product out the door, QA Procedures be damned. It was almost life and death to them.
I’ve always known that the Company was schedule driven, as any Boeing employee knows. I deeply knew the importance of us delivering the product on schedule. However, I saw our product quality jobs as inspectors as inviolate, and thought my job still had to be done right regardless of how late Manufacturing was. I was a minority in that. I always saw this overly exuberant sucking up to shop, from QA, to do whatever it took to deliver the product on time, as a conflict of interest that could only result in the unethical overlooking of known defects and other such evils, while others obviously did not. I didn’t buy into it, although I would support shop by doing my job as quickly as possible without jeopardizing the integrity of my inspection. It bothered me that some inspectors would “alter their processes” just to get the product out an hour or so earlier just to make shop happy.
I had seen how Renton QA Management had renamed themselves from “Quality Assurance” to “Production Support”, probably because they thought some inspectors still needed a big hint to really know their place in the Boeing Production System. Changing from “Quality Control” to “Quality Assurance” was wise, as Quality didn’t really control anything, and the use of SPC to assure quality was rising, so why not change from “Quality Assurance” to “Production Support”, as the Quality department didn’t really assure quality, they only supported production. No matter that multiple other organizations at Renton supported production, such as M.E. and I.E. Their names didn’t need to be changed, as they knew their place.
I once thought of, similarly to Renton, suggesting a name change of our Quality Assurance organization at one of our crew meetings. I was going to suggest we change our name to “Shipping Assurance” to match what most of our inspectors seemed to think their functions really were. Even though it would be only in jest to get some of the inspectors to wake up to their real responsibilities, per my opinion, I never did it. No one would probably laugh. Plus, I knew my QA Supervisor of the time might not appreciate it. I also thought of having a baseball cap made with “Shipping Assurance” emblazoned on it and wearing it to work for the same reason. The Millenium countdown hat that I bought and I had modified to state “Strike Til the Next Millenium” just above the countdown clock, and had reset the clock from counting down to the Millenium to counting down to our last union contract expiration date, which was just before the Millenium, was a huge hit with every union loving worker at PSD, and I bravely displayed it on my highboy even though I knew management might not like it. But I was not brave enough to even have the imagined “Shipping Assurance” hat made, because I thought I might be fired for insubordination or some such thing for doing it.
End of FAA report excerpt.
Boeing managers overruling QA inspectors is typical at Boeing, as was properly noted above and below in this report.
Donato Amoroso (Alenia COO): We followed at the time the procedure to stop but with the help of a Boeing specialist at the time and while we were in the disapproved condition they took responsibility for approving the quality and we will continue to work in engineering, at the time, the product.
Narrator: In this separate memo, obtained by Al Jazeera, Boeing states that "schedule may require deviations to the preferred quality process." We received the memos from an engineer who, like many we spoke with, was afraid to appear on camera. So he answered my questions by email.
Confidential Quality Engineer Source: They changed basic engineering principles to meet schedule…We all protested.…Would you fly on a plane that you knew was built with major flaws?
Narrator: The quality engineer told us deviating from the process compromised safety. Alenia and Boeing said it did not.
The quality engineer was right, of course. This is quite a rare notation by Boeing of their credo that schedule trumps quality (and therefore safety). While they erred in writing it down here, it is the core almost always unwritten philosophy upon which most QA fraud at Boeing and their suppliers is based. Cost reduction also trumps quality and safety at Boeing.
Cynthia Cole: 6,7,8,9,10…so I brought the memo to the former president of Boeing's engineers’ union.
Cynthia Cole: So my name is Cynthia Cole, C-y-n-t-h-i-a. Last name is C-o-l-e.
Narrator: Cynthia Cole spent 32 years at the company but never on the Dreamliner program, so she had never seen this memo before.
Cynthia Cole: “The program schedule may require deviation to the preferred process.” See? That one sentence right there, that one fragment of the sentence. You know, you don't change your quality process for schedule. You make quality happen in the schedule. They're shortchanging the engineering process to meet a schedule and they're not even allowing quality control to do their job and they’re telling them this is how it's going to be. I don't see how these people who write these things and agree to these things, you know, and the signatures down here, how they sleep at night. I just don't get it. How can you do that? As an engineer I find that reprehensible.
Will Jordan: How does it make you feel as a flyer?
Cynthia Cole: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I'm not flying on a 787. That just makes, you know… Because I've been kind of avoiding flying on a 787 and seeing this, I would definitely avoid flying on a 787.
Engineer Ms. Cole actually doesn't obviously know how bad things really are in the Boeing production system. Boeing management always sacrifices quality for schedule and doesn't allow QA to do their jobs. Being an engineer, she was obviously shielded from that fraud in her specific role. If she knew how far this fraud was spread throughout Boeing, she would never fly on ANY Boeing plane.
Narrator: In part two – Inside a Boeing 787 plant, workers reveal they fear to fly the plane they build.
Will Jordan: If the Dreamliner represents Boeing's future, then I've come to the place where that future will be built. In this assembly plant in Charleston, South Carolina. I've been called to a meeting with a man who works inside the plant. He's taking a huge risk even talking to me.
South Carolina Confidential Boeing Source: It's been eating me alive to know what I know, and to have no avenue, no venue to say anything.
I know EXACTLY how he feels.
Narrator: At his request, we used a different voice.
Boeing Confidential Source: 300 souls on the plane - their lives - it's bigger than me.
I felt exactly the same way, and I'm a pretty big guy.
Narrator: We had seen reports of bad workmanship in the plant. But the man claimed the problems go far deeper.
Boeing Confidential Source: With all the problems reported on the 787, there's 90 percent that's getting swept away…hushed up. It's an iceberg.
True. I would have said 99.9%.
Boeing Confidential Source: The people that actually work on it are the biggest problem. There is an uneducated, under-skilled, and uncaring staff that are building these planes and I'm not the only one that feels that way.
Wow. He went there, and he witnessed it! My "bias" against the cast of Deliverance building Boeing planes is more factual than even I realized! In fact, Deliverance was filmed not far from the Boeing South Carolina plant the source of this report worked at, and many of the hillbillies in the movie are 100% authentic inbred hillbillies from that area. And they were indeed inbred as well. "(Deliverance Director) Boorman commented on the “…notorious inbreeding in these communities…because these are the descendants of white people who married Indians; they were then ostracized by both Indians and whites, so they had to turn in on themselves." Indeed, many of the stereotypes of hicks that live by and work in the Boeing South Carolina plant are true. I have heard that Dentists are making a mint next to the plant, selling teeth inplants to almost toothless hillbillies who can now afford them because of their new Boeing pay and benefits. (Teeth they probably lost due to meth, poor hygiene, and Mountain Dew induced tooth decay).
Narrator: And he was prepared to prove it, wearing a camera inside the plant to record what some workers said about the Dreamliner.
Boeing SC Plant Worker 1: … They hire these people off the street dude. Working, fucking, flipping burgers for a living, making sandwiches at Subway…
Boeing Confidential Source: You can't have somebody from McDonald's do heart surgery. That's trusting somebody with your life. That's what we're doing here.
Boeing SC Plant Worker 2: The thing about it is, they don't realize the seriousness of putting something together and putting it together right. Because if this fucker breaks, it can't come over to the curb, it's gonna come down.
Boeing Confidential Source: I've seen a lot of things that should not go on at an airplane plant… people talking about doing drugs, looking for drugs…
Boeing SC Plant Worker 3: It's all coke and, um, painkillers and, what's the other one… You can get weed here, you can get some really good weed here.
Boeing Confidential Source: Really, like in the plant?
Boeing SC Plant Worker 3: Yeah.
Boeing Confidential Source: Like there's somebody who has it right now? I could walk up to them and just…
Boeing SC Plant Worker 3: No, I don't know if they have it right here. You've got to place your order.
Boeing Confidential Source: You gotta place your order.
Boeing Confidential Source: I have never seen anybody or heard of anybody having to take a random urinalysis. As far as I know random drug tests just don't happen.
Boeing SC Plant Worker 2: They don't drug test nobody.
Boeing Confidential Source: I know they don't.
Boeing SC Plant Worker 2: There's people that go out there on lunch and smoke one up.
Boeing Confidential Source: Do they?
Boeing SC Plant Worker 2: Hell yeah!
Boeing Confidential Source: You know for a fact.
Boeing SC Plant Worker 2: Hell yeah!
There you have it. Inexperienced and uneducated drugged out hillbilly former burger flippers building 787s with next to no training in a Boeing plant at which QA is corrupt and rollerstamps instead of inspects? What could go wrong? This needs to get out to more people. These 787 workers at Boeing know not to fly on these planes because they see the defective work delivered on these planes first hand, but the public that may be thinking about booking a flight on a 787 or other Boeing plane need to know this as well so they can protect themselves and their families and friends.
Putting inexperienced and uneducated "bodies" (a high school diploma is essentially meaningless these days) on the production line to make up schedule is the modus operandi for Boeing management. "Throwing more bodies at the problem" is their terminology, and workers are literally called "backfill" (dirt to be pushed around) by them. Since they only focus on schedule and a lesser degree cost, the poor quality and defective work done on the airplanes by inexperienced and untrained mechanics is not their main concern.
Narrator: When Boeing first announced the 787, back in 2003, nobody ever dreamt it would have been assembled anywhere but Washington State. The one place Boeing had always made its commercial aircraft. But new Boeing was playing by new rules. So it did something it had never done before - auctioned off final assembly to the highest bidder.
Dominic Gates: They were going to hold a competition for it. A state against state, nationwide competition, where to build this plane. I ran to my editor after I put the phone down, I think it was 5:00, and I said, "You're not going to believe this. They're not necessarily going to build it here."
Narrator: Washington State won, but only by giving Boeing what was then a record three billion dollars in tax breaks.
Actually, the deciding factor wasn't the tax breaks, it was me and Dominic. Yes, our collaboration is the only reason any 787s were built in Washington State, although that wasn't a goal of ours. If I hadn't given Dominic Alan Mulally's presentation to the Boeing Board of Directors before he gave it, all 787s would have been produced in South Carolina. The Board was virulently anti-union, and would have overruled Mulally's recommendation if Dominic's article about the presentation hadn't hit the press. It is probably because Boeing blames me (rightly) for that article that Boeing came down so hard on me when they (likely illegally) doxed my identity as Dominic's source.
They were livid about having to put 787 production in Everett because of Dominic's article. The other articles I was a source of for Dominic weren't likely a main concern. They were planning to essentially crucify a Boeing executive for the leak to Dominic before they illegally got his phone records, outing me. They thought only a Boeing executive could be the source of the info I gave Dominic. But with Boeing's nonexistent computer permissions for many critical servers, any Boeing employee could have been Dominic's source. All they needed was minimal computer skills and the organization designation of the person they wanted to peruse/copy the files of, which was info freely on the intranet. I got the server I.D. of Alan Mullaly's presentation room from my research into my Boeing QA management's fraud. They uploaded files to the same server, which made those files of primary interest to my whistleblowing.
IAM Strikers: "Power! Union Power! Union Power! Union Power!"
Narrator: Five years later, Boeing's machinists walked off the job after contract negotiations stalled. The strike cost Boeing billions, and added to the Dreamliner's delays. Boeing stock was in freefall, amid a global economic crisis.
Dominic Gates: … that strike really enraged the top executives at Boeing. And so, early in 2009, they made it very clear that they wanted a second assembly line somewhere else.
Narrator: That turned out to be South Carolina. The state offered cheap land and labor … close to one billion dollars in support… and no unions.
Dominic Gates: The decision to build the second 787 assembly line in Charleston, South Carolina was made because of the strike in 2008. They wanted to do it there because they wanted to weaken the union, and they did.
True, although Boeing executive management was just as anti-union when they made the original Everett 787 final assembly siting decision.
Stan Sorscher: It kind of has a shameless feel to it, right? It's very manipulative and not very hometown. That's not the way you treat your people in your community, unless they're not in your community, unless you see them as a source of gains to be extracted.
Exactly. Boeing doesn't care about their employees. They once referred to them as their "most valued resource," but that was only because they thought of them as the biggest resource of unnecessary cost they could cut.
Narrator: But for Boeing, leaving behind a world-class union workforce for the greener pastures of a non-union Charleston would come at a price. Work in the plant is significantly behind schedule and plagued by production errors.
Boeing SC Repair Worker: I seen some crazy stuff, you know? Putting fasteners in just beating the shit out of them to get them to go in the hole.
Not good at all, especially on composite structures like the 787 is largely made of. Such interference fastener fits are rarely used in composite structures.
Boeing Confidential Source: I know of one customer, they'll no longer accept planes from Charleston due to quality issues. They will only accept final assembly done in Everett, Washington.
If I was an unwitting Boeing customer that was forced to buy rollerstamped Boeing planes over inspected and conforming Airbus planes, I would make the same choice. All Boeing planes are riddled with defects because of rollerstamping, but South Carolina almost built Boeing airplanes are even more so. Boeing customers obviously know much more than the public just what kinds of defects ultimately deliver to them on the Boeing planes they buy. Choosing between having experienced union Washington State Boeing workers build your largely uninspected plane or having drugged out much less experienced hillbillies build your largely uninspected plane would be an easy choice for them, and South Carolina would always lose out.
However, customers cannot avoid South Carolina work on their 787s, as a large portion of every 787, even Everett assembled 787s, is almost built in South Carolina. Boeing is surely lying that no customer ever chose an Everett almost built 787 over the same almost built 787 from South Carolina. I think what Boeing actually does to deal with this customer aversion to South Carolina almost built 787s is to offer customers a discount on South Carolina 787s, under the guise of "lower non-union South Carolina production costs passed on to the customer." But, essentially a bribe for taking delivery of a drugged out inexperienced hillbilly almost built 787. And, if an undercover person was to ask Washington State Boeing workers if they would fly on a Boeing plane delivered from their plant, the number who would never do so likely wouldn't be the two-thirds of employees this news report exposed among South Carolina Boeing workers.
Boeing Confidential Source: Every day when you go to work, not only are you doing your job, but you are looking at the previous job to see if someone has messed something else up on that and chose not to tell anyone.
That's true, but that's assuming you care. In many cases, the next worker doesn't care what rollerstamped and therefore largely uninspected installation they are covering up with their own defective and rollerstamped by QA work. They just don't want their boss to come down on them for missing their Takt Time (schedule) or for reporting a defect.
Boeing SC Plant Worker 4: That machine fuckin malfunctioned in there. Fucked those holes up. Okay. They just went ahead and filled them. And I've gone ahead and told the managers that. And nothing has been done. Nothing.
That's because Boeing management doesn't care about quality or conformity, just cost and schedule.
Narrator: To be sure everything is done correctly and the plane is safe, Boeing has quality assurance inspectors painstakingly check every step of the work. But in South Carolina, this inspector says he only signs off on finished jobs.
Oops. Another mistake in this report, I guess because my site must have been down sometime in 2014. It should have been as follows: "To be sure the Boeing bottom line and stock option values are maximized, Boeing has quality assurance inspectors rollerstamp every step of the work as acceptable without inspecting most or any of it." There.
Boeing SC Plant Inspector: Here you will do the whole job and we just final it. You know, and I'm supposed to verify that oh, you checked the hole, you did the sealant, you put in the fastener. I never saw all that. But I'm supposed to final it and say that it's good. That's one of the problems I have.
What he is describing is rollerstamping, and this report verifies it is going on in South Carolina just as much or more as it does elsewhere across Boeing. Except what this inspector isn't saying is that he not only rollertamps the process inspections as OK when they were never inspected "in process" where he could inspect them, but that he also rollerstamps the final inspection as is commonly done across Boeing as well, by only performing a cursory "shakedown" inspection instead of a full final inspection, without the required drawings and specifications.
Boeing Confidential Source: You think Everett's better?
Boeing SC Plant Worker 2: I think Everett will do what's right, to make the plane right. Because of the union, they have to. Here everybody is being pushed to meet this fucking schedule regardless of quality.
Bwahahahaha! Great guy, but he gives Everett way too much credit. The union allows rollerstamping here in Washington, primarily by pretending it doesn't exist. The union is in bed with rollerstamping just as deep as corrupt Boeing management that is driving it is. Proof of that is their refusal to stand up even minimally per the contract for this whistleblower on the issue. A guy in Renton got five days off for talking to a newspaper under protection from the union. I was terminated instead and the union refused to lift a finger for me. Oh well. Nobody ever said unions weren't corrupt at all. They are a necessary evil, only because companies are more evil than they are. The union is only concerned about representing the maximum number of people to keep the dues money rolling in month after month. Sort of like a corrupt church focusing on members and their tithing. So, like Boeing workers except for moi and the people in this report, unions won't confirm rollerstamping exists because they don't consider it in their and the workers they represent's interests. And Boeing pushes every worker at Boeing, unionized or not, "to meet (the) fucking schedule regardless of quality." Things are much, much worse at Boeing than even what the above courageous whistleblower knows.
Will Jordan: Which do you think is the priority then, schedule or quality?
Boeing Confidential Source: Schedule.
Bingo! Right answer! It isn't even close. Boeing management intentionally sabotages quality to ensure schedule (flow) and cost goals are met.
Narrator: If it's a constant battle between quality and schedule, we found one casualty - 100's of kilometers from South Carolina - in Mississippi.
There are many casualties of Boeing management's battle against quality, both whistleblowers as noted below and me, but more importantly the hundreds of passengers and crew of Boeing planes that have died horrible deaths because of that fraud.
John Woods (Former Boeing engineer): My name is John Woods, I'm an aerospace engineer. I worked for General Electric, Lockheed, Boeing.
Narrator: John Woods spent a career in the highly specialized field of aerospace composites. Boeing hired Woods knowing he had qualified psychiatric conditions - attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and mild depression. His job was to write instructions on how to repair parts damaged during the manufacturing process.
Unfortunately, many people will hold these conditions against him and his whistleblowing. And Boeing hides its actions behind it. The prejudice against such people is strong.
John Woods: It's my job to make sure that that aircraft is safe.
Narrator: Woods says when he tried to enforce quality standards in the South Carolina plant he was berated by his bosses.
That's unfortunately normal with Boeing mismanagement. People are bigoted against people with conditions like this whistleblower had, however Boeing management is even more bigoted against anyone standing up for quality/safety.
John Woods: In a couple of meetings, there were several, a group of managers screaming at me to dumb down my work instruction. Saying, you have to remove requirements from your work instructions. It's going to take too much time.
Narrator: Woods says he witnessed damaged parts being ignored, papered over and hidden from view.
John Woods: There's no doubt there are bad repairs going out the door on the 787 aircraft. I am worried that, sooner or later, there's going to be a structural failure on a fuselage.
As I noted above, bad composite repairs happen across the entire Boeing enterprise more commonly than not. Thankfully Boeing didn't get the B-21 Bomber contract, which is likely required to be mostly made of structural composites. That Boeing got any of the B-2 Bomber work was bad enough (and I write that as a Boeing employee who hired in on and worked for years on that program).
Narrator: Woods appealed to Boeing's Human Resources Department claiming he was being harassed for doing his job. Instead of coming to his defense, Boeing managers put woods under review. Weeks later, they fired him.
Unfortunately this is commonplace at Boeing. As I experienced, you will not always get fired for going to Boeing H.R. (sometimes you will only have a target put on your back for the future), but you can bank on the allegation always coming back "unsubstantiated" if it is against a Boeing manager. The only exception would be if the manager's actions could likely be part of a class action lawsuit, in which case the manager might be terminated if it gives Boeing advantage in such a suit.
John Woods: I'll never forget this. The day before I was terminated, I was telling my brother how proud I was to be working at Boeing. It's true. So instead of saying thanks for doing a good job, because I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, I had to leave in shame, really. I was embarrassed for my own family.
Narrator: He still had not lost faith in the system. He turned to the FAA, filing a whistleblower complaint. The document alleged seven serious violations in the South Carolina plant.
Oops. The FAA is essentially a subsidiary of Boeing, as I witnessed in my reports to them. Never report anything to the FAA. Go to the FBI instead.
Mary Schiavo (Former Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation): So I've gotten to the page where they reached their conclusions and their discussion and what they found is, of all the allegations, all but one of them they could not substantiate and the one that they could substantiate, they asked Boeing to fix it. Boeing said, "Okay, we fixed it." And then they closed the investigation. And that's pretty much how they all go. I mean, I've seen this so many times.
Exactly what happened to me with my reports to the FAA. They never looked at the central and main allegation in my report, which was that Boeing QA management was directing the fraud in Boeing QA. They investigated and corroborated only 5% or so of the lesser 381 items I reported to them in my report and intentionally didn't investigate the Boeing QA management fraud in my report that was obviously the central thing my whole report was about. Boeing's FAA did so with the cover that the rampant Boeing QA management fraud I reported was simply Boeing "personnel problems" that didn't concern the FAA. However, that was intentional fraud by FAA management pretending to investigate my report. Boeing QA managers were FAA designees that would be FAA manager employees if Boeing wasn't undeservedly granted a Production Certificate by the corrupt FAA.
The enforcement action that I suggested the FAA take for the Boeing QA management fraud I reported and that they could have documented if they had actually investigated it was to pull Boeing's Production Certificate and have FAA managers and inspectors perform all QA functions at Boeing as is required in a company without a Production Certificate. As corrupt FAA management works for the corrupt Boeing management my report was about, there was no chance that they would perform that action, which would be the only way to reform Boeing's corrupt QA system while Boeing actually built a compliant QA system from the ground up before applying for a new Production Certificate.
Mary Schiavo is the best and most knowledgeable person ever to come out of government aviation oversight. She has unquestionable integrity. A treasure to the industry, and a true expert in this report and on many other aviation matters. Her opinion on the corruption at Boeing and the FAA is damning in the extreme.
Woods in coffee shop to waitress: "Thank you"
Mary Schiavo: I always tell people, when they call me, they call me up with information and they say, "Well, I have all this information about this dangerous situation. Should I blow the whistle?" I said, "Well, you know, not unless you have a private trust fund or another job to go to because you'll have a problem earning a living."
Great advice. But when lives are on the line, even your own financial protection becomes meaningless by comparison, and a good person must act. Been there. Did that. Ms. Schiavo's warning above is 100% true advice for Boeing/FAA whistleblowers.
John Woods: I had to maximize all my credit cards to survive, to support the family. There was a lot less money for the kids, for college and everything else. It shouldn't be this hard to do the right thing.
True. It shouldn't be, but it is when going up against the crooks running Boeing and their FAA.
Narrator: When we looked at Woods' FAA complaint, we noticed a familiar name - Ali Bahrami. He was the FAA's man in charge of the Dreamliner. In 2011, three years behind schedule, Boeing celebrated final approval for the 787 to fly. And it was Bahrami who signed the order.
OMG. Ali Bahrami. The exact FAA manager that deep sixed my report for his future employer, Boeing (through a Boeing funded industry association as noted above). Mr. Bahrami likely has his betrayal of me and his regulatory responsibilities to thank in large part for his current job. But, as noted on this site and below, Bahrami performed many services for Boeing in opposition to his statutory duties to the public while he was at the FAA to earn his quid pro quo job at a Boeing funded industry association and the following praise from the corrupt Boeing management he served instead of the public.
Fancher at Certification Party: "Thanks also, in recognition, for Ali Bahrami, manager of the FAA's Transport Airplane Directorate. Ali …"
Here is Bahrami (on the left) celebrating his partnership in corruption with Boeing executive management he has always worked for. At this event, he truly and finally sealed his future cushy job at a Boeing funded industry association, hence the smug smile, as if he had just gotten away clean with all of the money from a scam of epic proportions. And he had. Killing the critical investigation of my report to the FAA in the crib. Effectively operating as a Boeing mole in a critical FAA management role for oversight of Boeing. Negating and delegating much of the FAA's oversight responsibilities to the criminal Boeing management who directs much of the fraud documented on this site.
We've seen his type put in place across the highest levels of the Trump Administration recently. An EPA Secretary who wants to hobble its oversight functions over industry. A Department of Labor Secretary who wants to hobble its oversight functions over industry. An Education Secretary who wants to hobble its oversight functions over public education. A corporate stooge Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, whose appointment all but kills any hope of reform of Boeing corruption for the next four years. But, she can be forgiven a little about her rank fascism and corruption because she has one of the worst jobs of any woman on the planet--fucking her husband, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, assuming it isn't a sexless marriage, which I hope for her sake it is.
Narrator: It was Bahrami who signed off on the Dreamliner batteries. And after two failed, and the FAA grounded the Dreamliner … it was Bahrami who signed it back into the air. Shortly after that he retired from the FAA. Two weeks later Bahrami was hired as Vice-President of the Aerospace Industries Association, which lobbies on behalf of Boeing. One of the first things he did was to appear before Congress to call for greater self-regulation for companies like Boeing.
Ali Bahrami at Congressional hearing: ‘We urge the FAA to allow greater use of delegation, not only to take full advantage of industry expertise, but to increase the collaboration that improves aviation safety.
Narrator: Mr. Bahrami declined our interview request.
Mary Schiavo: One day you're regulating the airline and the next day you're working for it. You can't possibly be tough on the industry that you're regulating because you'll never get that plum job after you leave. The regulators at the FAA will rarely cross Boeing. They simply won't.
Exactly. It's corruption in plain site, and unfortunately technically legal, albeit Boeing was caught willfully crossing the line into criminality in its similar corruption of Darleen Druyun, former Principal Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for Acquisition who was improperly hired into criminal Boeing management during the Boeing U.S. Air Force Tanker debacle. She and Michael Sears, Boeing CFO, did prison time for getting caught documenting their corrupt relationship too much. Luckily for their ongoing corruption, Boeing hasn't been caught making such bribes to government officials since then. Boeing's keeping such bribes in return for government contracts or getting key government officials to look the other way from Boeing corruption (as Bahrami did with Boeing) secret and apparently verbal only has been successful for continuation of Boeing's various frauds so far.
Narrator: It's the Washington influence game - and Boeing is a master. Last year, the company had over 100 registered lobbyists, 78 of them were former government workers. Three were former members of Congress. Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney is chairman of President Obama's Export Council. The President's former Chief of Staff came from Boeing's Board, as did his second Commerce Secretary. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton helped broker a 3.7 billion dollar sale of Boeing planes to a Russian airline. Even President Obama boasts that he works for Boeing.
Obama at Boeing event: ‘So I tease 'J' every time I see him. I say, "I deserve a gold watch because I'm selling your stuff all the time.’
And things have even gotten worse for the public during the young Trump Administration, with Boeing senior company executive Pat Shanahan nominated a few weeks ago as Deputy Secretary of Defense. Shanahan will actually be paid by the taxpayers to operate the levers of power on behalf of Boeing inside the DOD! While he technically is supposed to recuse himself from Boeing related decisions for the first two years, all restraints on his acting for Boeing in his DOD position come off for the last two years of the Trump Administration if he is confirmed.
It's a win-win for Boeing corruption. Normally Boeing would have to pay a Boeing executive or lobbyist to influence someone in Shanahan's upcoming position to favor Boeing in DOD decisions. Now, we the taxpayers pay to install a Boeing mismanagement shill in the very government position Boeing used to have to pay to only influence. While the pay for such revolving door corruption is usually mostly delayed, it can be very, very lucrative, with Boeing legally paying him for services rendered for Boeing in his position at the DOD by hiring him back and overcompensating him once he leaves the government job. Corrupt Boeing management will ensure to make him much more than whole for the lower compensation he would get at the DOD.
This bodes well for anyone with Boeing stock, as Boeing's defense contracts look to be much, much more lucrative and numerous in the near future as a result of this "in plain sight" legally allowed corruption of our government by Boeing. Sadly, though, even outlawing such obvious ethical conflicts wouldn't help much. The bar would move a little, but then Boeing would maximize corruption of government officials right up to and over that legal "bar," just as they did with Druyun and just like you do when the speed limit changes and you adjust your speed to five MPH over that limit because you know the cops won't bother to write you up for such a "small" violation.
Narrator: “J” Is Jim McNerney. It's clear what Boeing gets from the U.S. government. What's not so clear is what it gives back.
Scott Klinger (Center for Effective Government): Boeing paid no taxes in 2013, no federal income taxes. That's not a unique year. Over the last 12 years, they claimed over $1.6 billion in federal tax refunds even though they reported $43 billion in U.S. profits.
Boeing is more like Trump than many realize. Both have defrauded customers. And both rarely pay significant federal taxes, albeit Trump has refused to release his tax returns, but Boeing legally has to do so. The number of women Trump has sexually assaulted and the number of women Boeing management has sexually harassed/assaulted is open to conjecture though. Boeing management never boasts about it, and Trump only did so once on camera. SMH.
Narrator: 43 billion dollars in profit. But none of that comes from the Dreamliner, which has cost billions and is years away from making money. All of Boeing's commercial profit comes from older aircraft – those created prior to the Dreamliner, prior to Jim McNerney, and prior to the merger. It has been the top executives and largest stock holders who have benefitted most.
Scott Klinger: Boeing's CEO, Jim McNerney, made $27.5 million in 2012. That was enough to pay the salaries of the President of the United States, the Vice President, the 15 Cabinet Secretaries, the nine Supreme Court Justices, the seven Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all 100 U.S. Senators.
Narrator: McNerney is set to retire with a pension of close to 250 thousand dollars a month. Just before Christmas 2013, Boeing demanded pension cuts from its union machinists.
Shannon Ryker (Boeing Machinist): For Jim McNerney to be earning a pension at approximately a quarter of a million dollars per month and think that it's okay for him to take my $2200 a month pension is outrageous. It's absolutely outrageous.
Corruption and fraud at Boeing pays extremely well for all levels of Boeing management. Lower level managers would not have their jobs if they don't engage in the fraud their Boeing managers direct, and at each successive level of Boeing management, Boeing managers are amply rewarded the more they direct this fraud, or the more they know where all of the "skeletons" of it are buried.
Narrator: Back in South Carolina, our unauthorized tour with Boeing's new workforce is coming to a close. There's only one question left to ask.
Boeing Confidential Source: Would you fly on one?
SC Worker: Um… no.
Boeing Confidential Source: You won't fly on one?
SC Worker: No.
Boeing Confidential Source: Would you fly on one of these planes?
SC Worker: I thought about it… no not really.
Boeing Confidential Source: Would you fly on one of these mother fuckers?
SC Worker: Probably not.
Boeing Confidential Source: Would you fly on one of these?
SC Worker: Yeah, it's sketchy.
Boeing Confidential Source: Sketchy?
SC Worker: Yeah I probably would, but I have kind of a death wish too. (laugh).
Narrator: Our source asked fifteen of his co-workers if they'd fly on the Dreamliner. Ten said no.
SC Worker 2: I wouldn't fly on one of these planes (shaking his head).
Boeing Confidential Source: You wouldn't? Why wouldn't you?
SC Worker 2: Huh?
Boeing Confidential Source: Why wouldn't ya?
SC Worker 2: Because I see the quality of the fucking shit going down around here.
There you have it. Two-thirds of 787 mechanics/inspectors who build/inspect the 787 won't fly on it. Neither should you or your family. If this report had exposed nothing else, this fact would have been worth it alone. And it will save many lives the more the public knows about it. Sadly, it was put out by an excellent news source with an Arabic name in a country with alarming levels of Islamophobia. But, if it convinces enough people not to risk their and their family's lives by flying on defect riddled Boeing planes like the 787 as many Boeing workers who build them won't, it will have been worth the entire year long effort. The exposure of Boeing whistleblower retaliation, the Boeing/government revolving door, Boeing/FAA management corruption, and Boeing defrauding of investors is simply icing on the cake. A tour de force in world news reporting.
Will Jordan: "Hi Mr. Loftis, Will Jordan."
Larry Loftis (Boeing V.P. and General Manager of the 787 Program): "I'm sorry, Will?"
Will Jordan: "Will Jordan."
Narrator: Workers who fear to fly the plane they build…quality process apparently loosened to speed up schedule… workers fired after making safety allegations… we needed answers from Boeing.
Larry Loftis: Right now we're at a very exciting point in time, we have brought our production rates up to 10 airplanes a month, faster than any airplane in aviation history and to the highest level of any wide-body airplane in aviation history.
Will Jordan: There's a couple of documents I want to show you here.
Will Jordan, Narrating: I showed him the documents suggesting Boeing had changed quality procedures and overruled inspectors to speed up production. Mr. Loftis was not manager of the 787 program in 2010, when the memos were written.
Larry Loftis: I am not familiar with this document.
Will Jordan: Former Boeing engineers have told us that these represent Boeing essentially putting schedule ahead of quality. Short-changing the engineering process to meet a schedule. Is that something you recognize?
Larry Loftis: The number one focus that we have at Boeing is ensuring the continued safe airworthiness of an airplane, the integrity of the airplane and the quality of the airplane going out.
Liar. As shown in this report and as most informed people would agree, the number one focus that Boeing executives/management has is to keep the stock price high on which the value of most of their overcompensation depends. Just after that is ensuring schedule is met so Boeing can get paid on time for the largely uninspected and defect riddled airplanes they deliver. Next comes internal and supplier cost reduction to maximize the bottom line. Then comes employee safety because of its cost effect on the bottom line. Quality and the passenger and crew safety it ensures is literally the last issue of major concern by Boeing management, considering their constant attempts to sabotage it for more bottom line dollars and better production flow (schedule) as noted throughout this site. The only thing Boeing may care less about than quality/safety is employee morale, except for where they are afraid of unionization, like South Carolina. Quality is only a concern of Boeing management if it impacts their cost and schedule goals, and they can't pass that poor quality on to the customer unaddressed (like when two parts are impossible to hammer together).
Will Jordan: We've also heard directly from workers inside your South Carolina plant. They paint a grim picture really of things there. They say the workforce isn't up to the job.
Larry Loftis: I'm extremely confident in the quality of the workforce in Boeing South Carolina.
Of course he is.
Will Jordan: The Boeing workers at South Carolina don't share that confidence. Here's what some of them said. …
Bwahahahaha! Loftis looks like a deer in the headlights here! Exactly what every Boeing manager involved in Boeing fraud deserves, preferably when the FBI takes them into custody for those crimes, not just in press interviews like this.
Paul Lewis (Boeing’s Communication Director): Guys, Guys, Guys. I'm gonna just call a halt here for a second. Can you turn the camera off for a second?
Cameraman: Why would we need to turn the camera off? What's the problem?
Narrator: And then, Boeing's communications director stopped the interview.
Paul Lewis: So, who are these employees that you're speaking to in South Carolina that are making these points?
There you have it. A senior Boeing PR manager trying to get the name of the whistleblowers in this report so they can feed them to Boeing Security stooges so they can retaliate against them. Disgusting.
Will Jordan: I can't, obviously I can't tell you who these employees are, but they are Boeing workers who assemble the planes that you build.
Paul Lewis: Well I'm not sure it's appropriate here and now.
Will Jordan: Well I'm assuming the buck stops with the Boeing Commercial Airplanes management and so the most senior managers are the ones to answer this. We're here with the head of the 787 Program. And we have these things that you need to hear and you need to provide a response to.
Paul Lewis: We have not had a chance to review this or craft a proper response. Larry, Larry, can you step out for a second?
Will is right. The buck should stop with Boeing executive management. It doesn't, as shown by no management fired for the 787 debacle, and all of the fraud Boeing management gets away with and is not held accountable for as noted on this site. Boeing press wrangler/obfuscator Lewis earns his bacon here with a masterful effort to get his guy away from needed accountability/public scrutiny STAT.
Larry Loftis: OK but, as I do. I have the highest degree of confidence in the production system we have, with the employees we have at the Boeing Company and our supply chain. Thanks.
Yes, that is what he would have to say as a Boeing executive. That doesn't mean it's what he truly believes. The most reliable time to tell if a Boeing executive is lying is when you see their lips move.
Narrator: Boeing answered our questions in writing, denying it compromises safety or quality. It said our interview was hostile, unprofessional, and in the worst traditions of tabloid-style television news. The company said it was confident that its battery fix prevents failures. Boeing says it uses one, common, FAA-approved quality system for the 787 in Everett and Charleston. Boeing noted its memo stated it did not signify authorization to ship parts that don't meet quality requirements. Boeing said it drug tests in line with company policy and applicable law. The company denies any customer has said they will only take planes from Everett. As for John Woods, Boeing says his safety claims have "no merit.”
Lies, lies, and more lies. The Trump Administration should replace Press Secretary Sean Spicer with someone from the Boeing PR lie machine. They have been making these Bold-faced lies about Boeing not compromising safety or quality for many years, if not decades. The interview was hostile? No. Anyone seeing this report knows that is a lie as well. Maybe they mean hostile to Boeing continuing the corruption noted in this report. That is thankfully true, as should always be the case. "Worst traditions?" The opposite is true. It is in the absolute best traditions of journalism. "Tabloid-Style?" Bullshit. Everything in this report is 100% true. Tabloids are known for their false made up stories. Unjustified defamation indeed. "Boeing says it uses one, common, FAA-approved quality system for the 787 in Everett and Charleston?" LOL. As noted here, being FAA approved means absolutely nothing. Of course Boeing said the whistleblower's claims had no merit. They always do, as they lied as well when my case was reported in the news. It would be sad for all people with integrity to be in the Boeing PR department, lying thusly for a living.
Narrator: Toronto. May 18, 2014. Air Canada celebrates the delivery of its first 787. This is the modern marketing reality of the Dreamliner.
Air Canada Executive: Today represents a huge milestone for Air Canada. We've been waiting a long time for this airplane. It's going to allow us to grow in unprecedented ways.
Passenger: Because when you were eating before where did you put your iPad?
Flight Attendant: Well, I think our passengers are going to be very receptive of some of the new amenities.
Passenger: I just wanna see how for it goes back.
Passenger: The windows are huge.
Flight Attendant: We were just excited because we really genuinely love this aircraft.
Reporter: Is there anything else you wanna add?
Air Canada Pilot: Uh, no we're very, very happy.
Reporter: From a seating point of view how is it different?
Reporter: Are there more restrooms?
Narrator: But is there another reality? One revealed by a burning battery. By the words of the workers who build the planes.
SC Worker: We're not building them to fly, We're building them to sell. You know what I'm saying?
Narrator: By Boeing's apparent changes to its own quality protocol, Boeing says the 787 has no more problems than previous models. The FAA says there's never been a safer time to fly. The Dreamliner is the fastest-selling plane in the world. One day we may all find ourselves on board. When we do, we will trust Boeing has put quality first; we will trust the regulators have been rigorous; ultimately, we will trust the plane is safe.
The horror! Hopefully none of us will wake up and find themselves on a Boeing plane unwillingly. Such an event would be like someone deathly afraid of rollercoasters waking up on an extreme rollercoaster, or any of the ten Boeing workers noted above waking up on a 787.
"...we will trust Boeing has put quality first?" Not unless you are dumbfoundingly stupid. No one who has seen this report or perused this site would, unless perhaps if they are the one 787 worker noted above with a death wish. In that case, though, they would actually be happy Boeing puts quality last. "...Trust the regulators have been rigorous?" That would be a possibly deadly misplacement of someone's trust as well. "...Ultimately, we will trust the plane is safe." Ummm, nope. that would be a possibly deadly misplacement of trust too. But I get the simile, or whatever figure of speech Will is using.
There you have it! My comments on perhaps the most important aviation story of the century so far! It's an impressive story of immense import. I only wish that it had played to a bigger world audience. It is likely only the public's viewing of reports like this and of this site that can save the lives of people who now unknowingly needlessly risk their lives on largely uninspected and defect riddled Boeing planes.
Opt out of the risk of this massive Boeing fraud killing you and your family, like the above Boeing workers who build them do. Only fly Airbus planes from now on.
But if you are suicidal and have a death wish, Boeing planes are where you want to be.
This blog entry is also a full web page on this site. View it here.
Watch the video of this important report below.
The Last Inspector