“THE BOEING 787. SOLD AS A “DREAMLINER”. Jim McNerney: A once in a decade if not once in a generation achievement of human ingenuity. FOR AIRLINES IT’S CHEAP TO FLY. FOR PASSENGERS IT OFFERS UNPARALLELED COMFORT. “wow” FOR BOEING IT PROMISED WINDFALL PROFITS. PRESIDENT OBAMA: The Dreamliner is the plane of the future. BUT 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.
OUR INVESTIGATION FINDS BOEING ALTERED ITS OWN QUALITY STANDARDS COLE: They’re shortchanging the engineering process to meet a schedule. WE UNCOVER A WHISTLEBLOWER FIRED AS HE FOUGHT FOR SAFETY: WOODS: There’s no doubt there are bad repairs going out the door on the 787 aircraft. WE GO BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, ONTO THE FACTORY FLOOR, TO REVEAL A WORLD BOEING KEEPS SECRET. UC WORKER VIDEO: I wouldn’t fly on one of these planesu2026 Because I see the quality of the fu**ing sh*t going down around here. TITLE: “BROKEN DREAMS: THE BOEING 787″ JANUARY 16TH, 2013. TAKAMATSU, JAPAN – A BRAND-NEW BOEING 787 DREAMLINER MAKES AN EMERGENCY LANDING. PASSENGERS KNEW THE PLANE WAS IN TROUBLE: AOYA KAZUNORI/passenger: I looked outside and saw white smoke. That’s when I realised the danger. KEN’ICHI KAWAMURA/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.
THE BLUE BOX WAS ONE OF THE DREAMLINER’S TWO LITHIUM ION BATTERIES u2013THE MOST POWERFUL – AND RISKY – EVER PERMITTED ON A COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT. Newsreader: It’s just the latest in a string of embarrassments for Boeing’s state of the art aircraft. NINE DAYS EARLIER A DREAMLINER BATTERY HAD CAUGHT FIRE IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. TWO BATTERY FAILURES IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS. NEWS BITE: Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines have grounded their fleets of Boeing 787 Dreamliners. JAPAN AIRLINES AND ANA HAD BEEN THE FIRST TO FLY THE DREAMLINER – NOW THEY BECAME THE FIRST TO CANCEL ALL FLIGHTS.
NEWS BITE: Breaking news. The United States Federal Aviationu2026 WITHIN 24 HOURS, THE U.S. SAFETY REGULATOR, THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, GROUNDED THE 787. NEWS BITE: All 50 of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners have now been groundedu2026 THE REST OF THE WORLD FOLLOWED. NO BOEING FLEET HAD EVER BEEN FORCED FROM SERVICE. BUT ON JANUARY 17, 2013, THE DREAM WAS OVER. 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 FUTUREu2026 A PLANE CREATED TO SAVE FUEL, IMPROVE COMFORT, AND BOOST PROFITS. AND ONE 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. SOUND: Security Guard in Japanese. Will: Al Jazeera. Guard: Al Jazeera. We wonder whether you might be able to do an interview? THEY REFUSED. SPOKESWOMAN: We have a contract with Boeing so we can’t, we can’t tell any comments to you. THE BATTERY IS ONLY ONE PART OF THE DREAMLINER’S COMPLEX ELECTRICAL SYSTEM. THERE’S ALSO A CHARGER, MADE AT A FACTORY THOUSANDS OF KILOMETRES AWAY.
WHAT HAPPENED THERE, SHOWS BOEING LEARNT YEARS AGO JUST HOW DANGEROUS A LITHIUM ION BATTERY COULD BE. IN TUCSON, ARIZONA, WE TRACKED DOWN MICHAEL LEON u2013 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. LEON: 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.
ON A NOVEMBER MORNING IN 2006, LEON AND DOZENS OF OTHER WORKERS CLOCKED IN AT SECURAPLANE – THE COMPANY THAT MAKES THE BATTERY CHARGER. LEON: I started a pot of coffee then I went into my lab and started working on my battery charging unit. AND THEN IT HAPPENED. LEON: u2026and 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. 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. 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 meu2026 WINES: I know if that had happened on board an aircraft, there, there would be no chance of survival. IT WAS THE BIGGEST CHEMICAL FIRE IN TUCSON’S HISTORY. A TEN THOUSAND SQUARE FOOT, THREE-STOREY STRUCTURE, BURNT TO THE GROUND. RICHARD LUKSO / Securaplane founder: u2026after my building burned down, after that they realized very emphatically the danger of this chemistry. RICHARD LUKSO KNOWS WELL THE CHEMISTRY OF THE DREAMLINER BATTERY. BOEING CHOSE THE MOST POWERFUL THERE ISu2026 BUT ALSO THE MOST VOLATILE. LUKSO: they went to lithium cobalt which is way up here as far as danger.
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, amp hour series battery pack bullet test. 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. (BATTERY WALK/TALK) 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.” IN THE END, TESTING WITH A CONSCIENCE, LUKSO COULDN’T MAKE THE BATTERIES MEET THE REQUIREMENTS.
HIS NEW COMPANY FAILED. LUKSO: u2026we became proficient in destroying batteries. And, and the more we learned about it, the worst 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. BY REST OF THE GUYS HE MEANS BOEING. AND THEY WERE TESTING TO A WEAKER STANDARDu2026 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. 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. SINNETT: u2026any fire will be impossible because there’s not enough oxygen to support combustion. 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. 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. “This is it. The first American commercial jet capable of economical transatlantic service. The Boeing 707 jet clipper.
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. ABW-002 / ABOULAFIA: you basically shortchange engineering, you stop doing aggressive new product developments; you run the business for cash. 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 MAXIMISE 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.
KEVIN SANDERS / Former Boeing manager: I feel that that legacy and that history and that competence has been hijacked by a bunch of corporate thugs. 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: The board made it clear that they wanted this plane made for less money. They wanted it made for $5 billion and they wanted partners to come in and pay the rest. ABW-002/ 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. BOEING CAME UP WITH A PLAN TO SAVE ITSELF MONEY. IT WOULD PUSH THE COSTS ONTO ITS MAJOR SUPPLIERS. BOEING WOULD CALL THEM PARTNERS u2013 AND THEY WOULD DESIGN AND PAY FOR THE PARTS THEY BUILT. BOEING’S JOB WOULD BE TO ASSEMBLE THE PLANE. 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.
RIGHT ON SCHEDULE, BOEING ROLLED OUT THE DREAMLINER ON SUNDAY JULY THE 8TH 2007, 7-8-7. Tom Brokaw: Airlines with us today have made a big commitment to Boeing and to this airplane. So far they have ordered 677 of them. ABOULAFIA: I think in a lot of ways, July 8, 2007 was one of the more magical moments I’ve seen in the industryu2026 Brokaw: Watching us live around the world, broadcasting I’m told in 45 countries in 9 languages for the premier of this very exciting Boeing 787 Dreamliner. GATES: We were all inside the factory with artificial lighting, big stage, Tom Brokaw, huge screensu2026 Then they opened the doors of this giant assembly bayu2026 ABOULAFIA: And in rolls this beautiful, beautiful aircraft. GATES: And there it is, sitting in the sun and we all stream outside and we all touch it and none of us noticed.
Smile! ABOULAFIA: And I’m reassured by the executives involved that it’s going to fly within two months. One, two, three. JON OSTROWER / Wall Street Journal What I realized walking around it is that you could look up in the wheel well and you could see daylight. GATES: We learned that the whole thing was a sham. MIKE BAIR / 787 Program Manager: Beautiful isn’t it? Absolutely beautifulu2026 GATES: They rolled out this fake airplane. OSTROWER: I realized the doors were made of plywood. GATES: This plane that we were admiring was completely a shell inside JAMES MCNERNEY / BOEING CEO: None of this would be possible, of course, without exceptional leadership.
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. MCNERNEY: And so to each and every member of the 787 global team, I say, ‘Thank you, congratulations, and keep up the great work.’ 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.
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. Hello and welcome to our quarterly update on the 787 program. 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.” 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. 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. 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.
ABOULAFIA: The sequence of events looked an awful lot like a catastrophe rather than just a manageable series of delays. THE DREAMLINER BUSINESS STRATEGY WAS BACKFIRING. DESIGNED TO SAVE SO MUCH MONEY, IT WAS COSTING BOEING BILLIONS. GATES: The outsourcing plan failed very badly. / All these different suppliers who were going to / build these major sections couldn’t actually do it. TO FIX THE DREAMLINER, BOEING DISPATCHED HUNDREDS OF QUALITY INSPECTORS TO STRUGGLING SUPPLIERS AROUND THE GLOBE INCLUDING TO ITS PARTNER ALENIA – IN SOUTHERN ITALY. Riccardo Busca / Alenia plant manager: We are just working through the final part of the process. ALENIA WOULD TAKE ON THE TASK OF CONSTRUCTING THE BODY OF THE PLANE – NOT WITH ALUMINIUM PANELSu2026 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: there’s nothing built like this. 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 FABRICATIONu2026 WITHOUT DELAY.” 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. 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. SOURCE: They changed basic engineering principles to meet scheduleu2026 We all protested. u2026Would you fly on a plane that you knew was built with major flaws? THE QUALITY ENGINEER TOLD US DEVIATING FROM THE PROCESS COMPROMISED SAFETY. ALENIA AND BOEING SAID IT DID NOT. CYNTHIA COLE: 6,7,8,9,10u2026 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. CYNTHIA COLE SPENT 32 YEARS AT THE COMPANY BUT NEVER ON THE DREAMLINER PROGRAMME, SO SHE HAD NEVER SEEN THIS MEMO BEFORE. 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 their 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. Male Voice: How does it make you feel as a flyer? Oh, yeah. I’m not flying on a 787. That just makes, you knowu2026 Because I’ve been kind of avoiding flying on a 787 and seeing this, I would definitely avoid flying on a 787. TEASE: IN PART TWO u2013 INSIDE A BOEING 787 PLANT, WORKERS REVEAL THEY FEAR TO FLY THE PLANE THEY BUILD. 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. SOURCE: It’s been eating me alive to know what I know, and have no avenue, no venue to say anything. AT HIS REQUEST, WE USED A DIFFERENT VOICE. SOURCE: 300 souls on the plane / their lives / it’s bigger than me. WE HAD SEEN REPORTS OF BAD WORKMANSHIP IN THE PLANT. BUT THE MAN CLAIMED THE PROBLEMS GO FAR DEEPER.
SOURCE: With all the problems reported on the 787 / there’s 90 percent that’s getting swept awayu2026hushed up. / It’s an iceberg. 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. AND HE WAS PREPARED TO PROVE IT, WEARING A CAMERA INSIDE THE PLANT TO RECORD WHAT SOME WORKERS SAID ABOUT THE DREAMLINER. UC PLANT WORKER 1: u2026 They hire these people off the street dude. Working, fucking flipping burgers for a living or making sandwiches at subwayu2026 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. UC 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. SOURCE: I’ve seen a lot of things that should not go on at an airplane plantu2026 / people talking about doing drugs, looking for drugsu2026 UC PLANT WORKER 3: It’s all coke and, um, painkillers and, what’s the other oneu2026 You can get weed here, you can get some really good weed here.
SOURCE: Really, like in the plant? WORKER 3: Yeah. SOURCE: Like there’s somebody who has it right now? I could walk up to them and justu2026 WORKER 3: No, I don’t know if they have it right here. You’ve got to place your order. SOURCE: You gotta place your order. SOURCE: I have never seen anybody or heard of anybody having to take a random urinalysis. As far as I know random drugs tests just don’t happen. UC PLANT WORKER 2: they don’t drug test nobody. SOURCE: I know they don’t.
WORKER 2: There’s people that go out there on lunch and smoke one up. SOURCE: Do they? WORKER 2: Hell yea. SOURCE: You know for a fact. WORKER 2: Hell yeah. 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.” WASHINGTON STATE WON, BUT ONLY BY GIVING BOEING WHAT WAS THEN A RECORD THREE BILLION DOLLARS IN TAX BREAKS. “Power! Union Power! Union Power! Union Power!” 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 A FREEFALL, AMID A GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS. GATES: u2026 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. THAT TURNED OUT TO BE SOUTH CAROLINA. THE STATE OFFERED CHEAP LAND AND LABOR u2026 CLOSE TO ONE BILLION DOLLARS IN SUPPORTu2026 AND NO UNIONS. 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. 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.
BUT FOR BOEING, LEAVING BEHIND A WORLD-CLASS UNION WORKFORCE FOR THE GREENER PASTURES OF NON-UNION CHARLESTON WOULD COME AT A PRICE. WORK IN THE PLANT IS SIGNIFICANTLY BEHIND SCHEDULE AND PLAGUED BY PRODUCTION ERRORS. Repair worker: I seen some crazy stuff, ya know, putting fasteners and just beatin’ the shit out of em to get em to go in the hole. 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. SOURCE: Everyday 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.
UC PLANT WORKER 4: That machine malfunctioned in there. Fucked those holes up. And they just went ahead and filled them. And I’ve gone ahead and told managers about that and nothing has been done. Nothing. 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. UC PLANT WORKER 5: 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. SOURCE: you think Everett’s better? UC 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. Will: which do you think is the priority then, schedule or quality? SOURCE: Schedule. IF IT’S A CONSTANT BATTLE BETWEEN QUALITY AND SCHEDULE, WE FOUND ONE CASUALTY – 100’S OF KILOMETERS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA — IN MISSISSIPPI. JOHN WOODS / Former Boeing engineer: My name is John Woods, I’m an aerospace engineer. I worked for General Electric, Lockheed, Boeing. JOHN WOODS SPENT A CAREER IN THE HIGHLY SPECIALIZED FIELD OF AEROSPACE COMPOSITES. BOEING HIRED WOODS KNOWING HE HAD QUALIFIED PSCHIATRIC 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.
WOODS: It’s my job to make sure that that aircraft is safe. WOODS SAYS WHEN HE TRIED TO ENFORCE QUALITY STANDARDS IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA PLANT HE WAS BERATED BY HIS BOSSES. 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. WOODS SAYS HE WITNESSED DAMAGED PARTS BEING IGNORED, PAPERED OVER AND HIDDEN FROM VIEW. 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 the fuselage. 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. 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. WOODS: 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. 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. MARY SCHIAVO / Former Inspector General, USDOT: 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.
That’s pretty much how they all go. I’ve seen this so many times. Woods in coffee shop: “thank you” 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.” 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. 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. Fancher at Certification Party: “Thanks also in recognition for Ali Bahrami, manager of the FAA’s transport airplane directive. Ali u2026″ IT WAS BAHRAMI WHO SIGNED OFF ON THE DREAMLINER BATTERIES.
AND AFTER TWO FAILED AND THE FAA GROUNDED THE DREAMLINER u2026 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 / Congressional hearing: u2018We 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.” MR. BAHRAMI DECLINED OUR INTERVIEW REQUEST. 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. 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 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’ ever time I see him. I say, “I deserve a gold watch because I’m selling your stuff all the time.” “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 / Think tank analyst: Boeing paid no taxes in 2013, no federal income taxes. / That’s not a unique year. Over the last 12 years, they claimed over $billion in federal tax refunds even though they reported $43 billion in U.S. profits. 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 u2013 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. KLINGER: Boeing’s CEO, Jim McNerney, made $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. 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. 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. SOURCE: Would you fly on one? WORKER: umu2026 no.
SOURCE: You won’t fly on one? WORKER: Noooooo SOURCE: Would you fly on one of these planes? WORKER: I’ve thought about it? I thought about itu2026 no not really SOURCE: Would you fly on one of these mother f**kers? WORKER: Probably not. SOURCE: Would you fly on one of these? WORKER: Yeah it’s sketchy. SOURCE: Sketchy? Yeah I probably would, but I kind of have a death wish too. (laugh) OUR SOURCE ASKED FIFTEEN OF HIS CO-WORKERS IF THEY’D FLY ON THE DREAMLINER. TEN SAID NO. UC WORKER 2: I wouldn’t fly on one of these planes (shaking his head). SOURCE: You wouldn’t? Why wouldn’t you? WORKER 2: Huh? SOURCE: Why wouldn’t ya? WORKER 2: Because I see the quality of the fucking shit going down around here. “Hi Mr. Loftis, Will Jordan” “I’m sorry, Will?” “Will Jordan” WORKERS WHO FEAR TO FLY THE PLANE THEY BUILDu2026 QUALITY PROCESS APPARENTLY LOOSENED TO SPEED UP SCHEDULEu2026 WORKERS FIRED AFTER MAKING SAFETY ALLEGATIONSu2026 WE NEEDED ANSWERS FROM BOEING. Larry Loftis: Right now we’re at a very exciting point in time, we have brought our production rate 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. 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 PROGRAMME IN 2010, WHEN THE MEMOS WERE WRITTEN. Larry Loftis: OK 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. 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. Will Jordan: The Boeing workers at South Carolina don’t share that confidence. Here’s what some of them said. u2026 Paul Lewis: Guys, Guys, Guys. I’m gonna just call a halt here for a second. Can you turn the camera off for a secon? Cameraman: Why would we need to turn the camera off? What’s the problem? 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? 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 programme. / 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. Paul Lewis: Larry, Larry, can you step out for a second? Larry: 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. 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 AUTHORISATION 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”. TORONTO. MAY 18, 2014. AIR CANADA CELEBRATES THE DELIVERY OF ITS FIRST 787. THIS IS THE MODERN MARKETING REALITY OF THE DREAMLINER. AIR CANADA EXEC: 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 are 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? BUT IS THERE ANOTHER REALITY? ONE REVEALED BY A BURNING BATTERY. BY THE WORDS OF THE WORKERS WHO BUILD THE PLANES. UC WORKER: We’re not building them to fly, We’re building them to sell. You know what I’m saying? 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..