Veteran Boeing manager was transferred to 787 production; based on he saw there, he won't fly in a Dreamliner and begs his family not to

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/02/razor-sharp-metal-shavings.html

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he won’t fly in a Dreamliner and begs his family not to

You don’t have to tell me twice…

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“a background in overseeing military contracts”

There’s your problem right there. When military stuff blows up, it’s considered successful.

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I presume that, with a Military Contract, you just agree to correct any defects you might have engineered in to the vehicle, and add that on to your cost-plus contract.

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It’s almost as if a private company and a captive regulatory agency can’t be trusted to produce and certify planes that are actually safe. Huh.

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Boeing is basically one more bad decision away from going out of business.

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Not even. You just have to be able to identify root cause and corrective action (where possible), and claim that if the corrective action had been implemented then the failure wouldn’t have happened. Then you can strike the failure from the mean-time-between-failure (MTBF) calculation. You dont necessarily have a requirement to actually correct the fault.

And no I’m not kidding, at least for Military aviation.

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going by the you know what effect…

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I remember reading a thing about missile testing, where they counted duds as partial successes; because the missile had detached, hadn’t flipped up and torn the plane’s wings off, and had gone on to hit the Earth.

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Not addressed in the article is Boeing’s motivation for setting operations in NC. It was strictly done to try to break the union at the Everett facility. One cannot implement a quality culture overnight though.

Theres a video out there somewhere showing undercover recordings at the NC plant. It pretty much backs up the executive’s claims. Maybe it was by Vice. I’ll look for it later.

ETA: Al Jazeera did it.

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All kinds of lessons of history are being forgotten these days. From a NASA history of the Challenger disaster (bold mine):

The general manager of Thiokol turned to his three senior managers and asked what they wanted to do. Two agreed to go to a launch decision, one refused.

‘So he (the general manager) turns to him and said ‘take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat’ – and that’s exactly what happened,’ said Boisjoly. ‘He changed his hat and changed his vote, just 30 minutes after he was the one to give the recommendation not to launch. I didn’t agree with one single statement made on the recommendations given by the managers.’

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Missile testing is a fiddly thing. Since they’re so expensive a lot of requirements get piggybacked on one test. This causes certain performance goals to be adjusted or bent. For example, it’s common to remove the warhead and pack it with sensors, but this can affect terminal stage performance. It can look like goalpost moving though.

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“That part’ll happen pretty definitely.”

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I mean, let’s not go nuts: there have been millions of 787 flights and zero fatal crashes, so it’s factually incorrect to say it is an unsafe aircraft. In fact, I think every other big plane apart from the A380 is empirically less safe (and less pleasant) to fly on.

That might be in part because the bad culture at the SC plant is offset by the better safety culture that went into the original design and at the other plants involved. Point being, it would be better to attack the bad plant and the consequences of union-busting, rather than the 787 itself. Otherwise you could end up with Boeing shoddily stapling together some other model in South Carolina, while also laying off people in Washington who were making perfectly good 787s.

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It still says “Boeing” on the label, but inside the can it’s mostly “McDonnell Douglas”.

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Essential reading - on this topic, though it discusses the “new” Boeing culture with reference to the 737Max - is this issue on military production:

https://harpers.org/archive/2019/06/the-pentagon-syndrome/

The military side of Boeing has taken over the civilian side, and all the old traditions of safety are going to hell.

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Read the whole interview. It is chilling.

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That said, defective oxygen masks aren’t something that we’ve had a chance to discover in real life yet.

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The engineering driven Boeing died when they acquired McDonnell Douglas. In a strange twist, the McDonnell Douglas management team took over. The culture of safety, well engineered products, and customer focus was thrown out. Everything is now driven by a disengaged bunch of hacks in an office far removed from the engineers and technicians. All that matters now is the bottom line. Who cares if people die? The execs will have already cashed their bonus checks and long gone.

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Doesn’t even mention the Dreamliner battery problem, which alone is enough reason for me to refuse to fly in one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_787_Dreamliner_battery_problems

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