Al Jazeera slams 787; Boeing punches back; our scathing review

Special note: In a departure from our usual practice and instead I am signing this column. In the interests of full disclosure, I have occasionally appeared as a “talking head” on Al Jazeera America (AJM) with respect to breaking aviation news and on panel discussions over national airline policy. I had no involvement in the 787 special. I was skeptical of what I saw on the preview, which didn’t show anything of substance that was new but because of the attention already drawn to the program, I wanted to wait until seeing it myself before commenting. Al Jazeera America English has invited me to be on a panel to air Sunday or Monday to discuss this investigation; I have accepted. It remains to be seen after this review if AJM AJE still wants me.

–Scott Hamilton

Boeing and Al Jazeera news are trading punches over an hour-long program by the latter that Boeing says was positioned as a documentary under false pretenses and using tabloid tactics.

The controversial all-news station, which evolved when Al Jazeera bought Current TV from from vice president Al Gore (who is now suing for partial non-payment), focused on Boeing’s 787 South Carolina plant.

Boeing’s counter-offensive began Monday in advance of Wednesday’s broadcast. The Charleston Post and Courier neatly encapsulates the Boeing response to the show. Boeing’s full response is at the end of the post.

A Boeing communications official spoke with me at Tuesday’s Ryanair delivery event, repeating much of what is recounted in the Post and Courier article, with particular emphasis on:

  • Reliance on “disgruntled employee(s); “
  • Asking for Boeing’s cooperation by saying this would be a documentary about the 787 then blindsiding officials with the allegations while on camera; and
  • Engaging in an ambush interview tactic.

First, I’ll comment on the above.

The “disgruntled employee” defense is all too common and broadly encompassing. More to the point, just because an employee is disgruntled doesn’t mean he or she is wrong in his allegations.

The misleading intent of the purpose of the interview is impossible to defend. While it is certainly true that had Boeing known what the program was about would have led the company to go into the four-corner defense mode (I’ve seen this many times, including on occasion when I’ve posed sensitive questions), to outright mislead about the purpose of the program is questionable, and Boeing has a right to be pissed. It was abundantly clear that Larry Loftis, who is currently head of the 787 program but who was not during much of the period that is the focus of the piece, was completely blindsided and unprepared. Al Jazeera absolutely had an obligation to let Boeing know where it was headed so Loftis (or whomever) would be prepared.

As for the ambush interview, welcome to the heyday of 60 Minutes, when Mike Wallace was the lead ambusher. This is not an unknown journalistic tactic when you suspect the subject would not otherwise be available for an interview. But the circumstances surround the Loftis interview were far different than Wallace-inspired ambush interviews.

Having said that, let’s examine the substance of the program.

  • My overall impression is that the investigation would be been better positioned as “the Old Boeing, The Airplane Co., vs The McBoeing Co., the Shareholder Value Co.,” and that the 787 production model was a symptom.
  • I actually had no problem with the first 16 minutes of the program, which fairly and in my view accurately recounted the history of the changing Boeing, the site selection and the decisions for the production model. After that, it comes down to: Where’s the News?
  • Quality control issues are hardly new. While Boeing has long said Charleston is “performing to expectations” (usually begging the question of how low the expectations may have been), it has been well known with aviation circles and among customers that Charleston QC is less than that from Everett. The unions have been loud and clear that Charleston 787s are routinely flown to Everett for finishing and correcting QC issues. While this hardly speaks well of Charleston’s production, it doesn’t mean that the final delivered product is unsafe.
  • Let’s also be clear: there is nothing in it for Boeing to actually deliver an unsafe airplane. The liabilities arising out of this, in the event of an accident, are obvious.
  • There is nothing in it for the airlines to accept an unsafe airplane. Liabilities aside, scheduled dispatch reliability is paramount for the customer. It is certainly true that 787 reliability has been well short of target, and especially in the early days a source of huge inconvenience for some carriers.
  • The battery fire was clearly a safety issue. It was what it was. But it’s also old news now.
  • The allegations of drug use on the job are perhaps most disconcerting. I have no way of knowing whether any of what was reported is true, but in all honesty, there probably is some truth to it. I firmly believe that there is no large industrial facility where drugs aren’t used or accessible. Boeing, like any other company, has policies and procedures intended to prevent and stop. Are they adequate? Perhaps not, in which case these need to be tightened. But, I bet there’s even drug use and accessibility at Al Jazeera.
  • Is the 787 unsafe? Once the battery issue was fixed, I am confident in the airplane. Is it as good as it ought to be? Not yet, as dispatch reliability data show. Is Boeing South Carolina as good as it should be? Boeing statements to the contrary, the answer is no, based on all kinds of observations I receive from those in the know. But for those of us in the industry, none of this is new, either.
  • Having sandbagged Boeing, I suspect Jon Ostrower, Dominic Gates and Richard Aboulafia had no idea the direction of the program, either.
  • There are now more than 1,000 orders for the 787 and enough commitments to infer that the program will be profitable. Has it been a debacle? Absolutely. Did it have an insidious effect on Boeing’s product strategy? Absolutely. I’ve been whining about this for years. But elements of the 787 are finding their way into the other programs, which remain profitable, so there is and has been benefit across the product line from the 787. None of this was discussed in by Al Jazeera.
  • The heart-string tugging music through the program has no place in a news documentary of this nature. Whatever the merits of the former employee in Mississippi, inclusion of this part of the story and how it was portrayed was purely gratuitous.

The “investigation” was a disappointing effort.

Update: Al Jazeera posted Boeing’s written responses delivered after the Loftis interview was terminated.

Full Boeing Statement:

What has been produced is as biased a production as we have seen in some time. It is unfortunate that the producers of this television program appear to have has fallen into the trap of distorting facts, relying on claims rejected by courts of law, breathlessly rehashing as “news” stories that have been covered exhaustively in the past, and relying on anonymous sources, who appear intent only on harming The Boeing Company.

When first contacted by the producers we accommodated them in order for them to produce a fair and objective report including facilitating factory access, interviews and providing full and open responses to their questions. The 787 is an outstanding airplane delivering value to our customers, but we have also talked candidly in public about its challenging development process. There are no tougher critics about our early performance than Boeing. Unfortunately, the reporting team appears to have chosen to take advantage of our trust and openness and abused their position from the outset by deliberately misrepresenting the purpose, objective and scope of their planned coverage.

This specious production appears to have ignored the factual information provided by Boeing and instead based the majority of its reporting on unnamed sources pursuing their own agendas and a disgruntled former employee engaged in a legal dispute with Boeing. In one instance, the producers resorted to ambush tactics normally seen only in tabloid-style TV news. The anonymous sources the TV program depends on are clearly working with those who seek to harm Boeing and its workers. They appear to have no real interest in truth, safety, or better informing the public.

Even on-the-record sources seem to have changed their stories for the producers. For example, former Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) President Cynthia Cole said this about the 787’s first flight in 2009: “Today’s flight is a testament to the skill, hard work and diligence Boeing employees put in to get this airplane ready to fly,” Cole said in a news release. “Boeing returned to engineering, and that’s what made today possible and successful.” Now she states in the documentary trailer that Boeing “shortchanged the engineering process.”

Instead of an objective view of the 787’s development, viewers and our employees will see a television program that is neither balanced nor accurate in its portrayal of the airplane, our employees, or our suppliers. This program and those involved with it do a disservice to the hard-working men and women of Boeing and our supplier partners who designed and build the 787.

Furthermore, the program presents a false impression of Boeing South Carolina and the quality of work performed there. Airplanes, whether delivered from South Carolina or Washington, meet the highest safety and quality standards that are verified through robust test, verification and inspection processes. Our data of the current 787 fleet in service show parity in the quality and performance of airplanes manufactured in both locations.

63 Comments on “Al Jazeera slams 787; Boeing punches back; our scathing review

  1. Al Jazeera America needs headlines. I can’t think of why anyone would regularly tune into this nework with it’s commonly known anti-American slant. Having said that, this is probably a brilliant move on their part to draw in viewers with little regard for who gets hurt.

    • The show was bad journalism of Al Jazeera. I have seen no evidence for any serious safety issue on the 787 currently flying. The only evidence I have seen is that BA has lowered the quality standards and that means there are 787s with flaws flying people. I hope that the planes are maintained well and any flaw will be found before they become a safety issue. If you care who gets hurt: I have flown in a 787 and I would like to fly in it safely in 10 – 15 years.

  2. Al Jazeera is owned by the state of Qatar just like Qatar airways.
    Does this have any implications about the rest of that order?
    What AAB would say about that report?

  3. Well this is al Jazeera. I don’t watch them and do not consider them as “news media”. They are just another CNN tabloid style outlet.

  4. FWIW Show can be watched online without commercials at

    I note that alJ did have a ” poor pick” of a fired employee which leaves credibility in question

    However – has anyone EVER heard of a whistleblower who was not a combination of

    1) brain dead but we kept him/her out of pity
    2) disgruntled because we disciplined him for taking home a company pencil
    3) was not in a position to know the facts
    4) was found to be incompetent in his job ( after only 20 years at the company )
    5) was mentally “**** ” with **** enter weasel wods here ‘ due to privacy ‘
    6) was determined to be a PITA due to wild conspiracy theories
    7) overstated the issue and its significance

    Pick any two or three

    Word to the wise- apparently one employee used email – hopefully not company email – to communicate with ALJ.

    Hopefully he used a computer other than his own at home or one that had his personal email address on file with the company so as to access his Boeing benefits/questions at home.

    Reason – Boeing can and has improperly put tracking tokens/certificates on a persons home computer of the type which are supposedly used ONLY on company computers. Thus making it easy to track or block emails from that computer regardless of email address.

    That employee, if he/she used his home computer may well be found to have improp-erly used a company paper clip..

    • ” However – has anyone EVER heard of a whistleblower who was not a combination of …”

      Yes, certainly. But research in Europe on a large number of whistleblowers showed that even they are proved to be damn right, they mostly end up unhappy, isolated and poor.. Go with the flow/ blindeye / others do it too/ blame your boss proves more rewarding.

  5. Boeing is a big boy and should know the rules of the games, particularly wrt communication about the 787.

    Yes, it is a phony ‘ínvestgation’ but I am not going to cry for Boeing.

    • Yes, exactly right. PR professionals give advice on a strategy and make sure all bases are covered. You see it on politicians who are any good all the time, and their business is waffle. Did Boeing really think Al Jezerra was going to fluff their pillows.

  6. Boeing Boeing Boeing. Everything in the programme is true, not new, but true, yet they want to cry like a big wrong has been done.

    Don’t know if it’ll help Al Jezeera much in US though, but it will be a new reference point every time the 787 goes tech!

  7. Pingback: Review: Al Jazeera's 787 Report Misses the Mark | zipicon

  8. Dear Mr. Hamilton: To a certain extent, quite large in fact, I agree with the argument that “there is nothing in it for Boeing to deliver an unsafe airplane”. However, at the same time I think it is important to be mindful of a number of instances in aviation where financial stress has adversely affected the culture of safety, for instance West Caribbean Airways Flight 708. While I firmly believe that every Boeing aircraft is perfectly safe, it is nonetheless a difficult balancing act to push people to work ever faster, having them work mandatory 10-hour days and weekends to meet deadlines (Reuters, Aug. 8), and simultaneously instill that saftey is paramount and non-negotiable. It is a very difficult balancing act indeed, and I believe it is a relatively well-established behavioural fact that financial stress can cause people to, consciously or unconsciously, accept risks through neglect, inattention or simply fatigue.

    Hence I can only partially agree with the sentiment that (paraphrasing) “Because of the laws of the financial markets, all planes manufactured are necessarily safe.” Again, I firmly believe that every Boeing airplane delivered is immaculately safe, but because of the financial stress that the 787 program is under, Boeing ought to be more vidulent than ever in instilling an uncompromising culture of safety and diligence in even the smallest detail. If Boeing’s upper management can take anything away from this news documentary, I think it is that they might consider discussing, “Do we have instances of slipping morale, and do we have sufficient leadership at all levels of our organization?”

    • re slipping morale
      see cowering on page one

      It is moved
      that the SPEEA Council has NO CONFIDENCE
      in Mr. James McNerney’s
      abilities as Chief Executive Officer of The Boeing Company based on his actions
      as a board member and a CEO.

      That motion passed a few weeks ago.

      And the IAM is a bit peeved over BA strongarming them re pensions and contract by dealing only with national IAM president over Christmas

      meanwhile – push the grunts to the max while taking not only the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – but the pot also !

    • Read the following on the Maconda well and then tell me that Boeing would not put out an unsafe product!

      GM of recent years

      Ford of Pinto days

      Anytime returning money to a CEO that does not perform and placating the shareholders so that board keeps that money spigot wide open and flowing, is more important than the quality of the product then you will find gross failures (and we have seen a number of Boeing fuselages blow out so are they really safe?

      I do not recall a single Airbus fuselage going phooof. Maybe there actually is something about an organization respecting its worker and working in line with a common goal that works.

      Never underestimate the gross power of short term stupidity vs long term consequences.

      • Brinkmanship is very popular in the US. Cutting (savety-) margins down to paperthin remains “because nothing happens” will in the end lead to a widely scoped catastrophic failure. the GFC was a perfect example in this respect. How you get there and the outcome.
        The way the FAA has been embraced and internalized by Boeing is a direct path to a similar outcome.

        • On your point about the FAA, the Organization Designations Authorization (ODA) (14 CFR 183) issued to companies like Boeing by the FAA are not the regulatory capture suggested by your statement. Having knowledge of the process and how it works I can definitely say that the FAA and the unit members (Boeing employees) apart of the delegated organization are not afraid to deny a certification approach or design proposed by Boeing or its management. In fact, the amount of cooperation between Boeing and the FAA as time has progressed has decreased. At one point the FAA was charged with ensuring the highest standards or safety and advancing the American aerospace industry. Lately the latter point has fallen by the wayside while the former has become more strictly enforced.

          Now if the FAA and regulatory agencies around the world want to retain more of the certification for an aircraft they will need more funding, more personnel and more expertise. At least in the US, none of those things are likely to happen. In fact the FAA proposed the delegated organization because of their decreasing resources.

          • “At least in the US, none of those things are likely to happen. In fact the FAA proposed the delegated organization because of their decreasing resources.”

            Which appears to have been a politically desired outcome. Withdraw money from sensible tasks and push them into SnarkHunting like WoD, WoT, TSA, FEMA and NoChildLeftBehind things ( list obviously not complete ).
            Same thing was done for “financial oversight” were it worked faster and lead to the GFC.

            As a nation ( with some interesting historical achievements ) the US is dismantled while still alive.

      • Both manufacturers have had planes with problems that have had catastrophic bad results (Airbus had a plane that’s rudder fell off, Bowing has had fuselage issues in older planes etc.) In general tho, they both make safe airplanes.

        The problem with Boeing rght now id that their workforce is apparently not happy and the executives are treating them like a resource, not people.

        • “rudder fell off”

          Which wasn’t all that tightly linked to Airbus but to dysfunctional pilot training. ( going by what the NTSB wrote about it but obviously a brazen design deficit if you go by one of those mock documentaries from the US sold to TV stations all over the globe.)

  9. I went and saw the program. Although, I was never sold on the appropriateness and safety of those batteries and that plane in general, I feel that the ambush attack interview was dirty, evil, and abusive of trust. Boeing trusted these interviewers and what was done to them in return was indecent.

    • Trust works both ways- and while I agree that it was a ambush-gotcha interview of the Boeing manager- there are many other interviews- PR releases where BA has flat out done the same to employees- press- financial groups, etc. So not much empathy for Boeing on that issue . In any large org there are a few bad apples – both in companies and tabloid journalists.
      While the manager-executive was blindsided – note his first response was ” who told you . . . ” You can be assured that there is now a major search and destroy effort going on for the perps who are still employees ..

    • It seems to me that Boeing got a dose of what they like to dish out, I am not breaking out my violin.

      A lot of workers don’t trust Boeing and Al Jaz just followng there fine example.

  10. Does anyone know whether the 777-X will have lithium batteries and similar electrical architecture and non-bleed engines?

  11. At Airbus France you can have a bottle of wine for lunch. Hence, Airbus aircraft are build by people taking drugs.

    • You can have wine or beer with your lunch in all of southern Europe yet they have the lowest alcoholism rates in the whole continent not to mention North America.
      It is a culture that views alcohol as something to enjoy and an integral part of a meal instead of just a vehicle to get drunk.

  12. Given that Al Jazeera is an organization with known and documented ties to terrorist organizations and has been found to have acted in support of those organizations why is anyone in this country having anything to do with them?

    • Al Jazeeta and the goverment of Qatar are one and the same.
      Not doing business with them means not doing business with Qatar Airways.

  13. There is no smoke without fire or exessive heat.
    – People doing drug on the job is true, it happens in many places so it is not impossible that it can happen at boieng.
    – 10 out of 15 employees will not fly the plane have a good reason for saying so, I don’t think they said so because they are all disgruntled.
    – That Ali guy leaves the FAA ,gets on Boeing’s payroll and advocates for greater autonomy of Aircraft manufacturers? Looks suspicious
    – Relaxing QA checks and standards for sake of production rates, is not out of this world. It is not impossible that it can happen at boieng. Air India took some of early planes built in SC, just see how many problems they had with them.
    – No major incident may have happened for now with the 787 because most planes are still new, less than 3 years in service. One has to wait and see when those planes start to age, maybe those overlooked issues will start to manifest.
    – Boeing has to pray that no major incident happens that involves the 787. People will use that to vindicate this documentory. Boeing should tacke some of the issues mentioned in the documentory.

  14. Well, here’s what the producer have to say about his film:

    Will Jordan
    Producer for Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit

    At Boeing, a Disconnect Between Engineers and Executives

    Our film for Al Jazeera, ‘Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787,’ doesn’t just reveal workers’ safety concerns, it exposes the gulf between Boeing’s employees and its executives

    As we were making the final edits to our film Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787, Jim McNerney made a remarkable comment.

    The Boeing chief executive recently turned 65, the company’s mandatory retirement age, so a journalist asked him on a conference call if he was going to step down any time soon.

    “The heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering, I’ll be working hard,” he said.

    “There’s no end in sight. We’re continuing to build a succession plan and alternatives to succeed me eventually, but there’s no discussion of it yet.”

    His comments hit a nerve. The union for Boeing engineers, SPEEA, sent out a sign to its members that read, “If I’m away from my desk, then I must be cowering somewhere. Please leave a note.”

    Machinists union international President Tom Buffenbarger added, “If he is able to get his foot out of his mouth, the very next thing we hear from Mr. McNerney should be a sincere apology to all employees at Boeing.”

    It came shortly afterwards, McNerney emailing around 170,000 Boeing workers to explain it was a joke gone wrong.

    During our research into Boeing and the “Dreamliner,” we heard constantly from current and former Boeing workers at all levels about the gradual breakdown of relations between the company’s leaders and its workers.

    In our film, industry analyst Richard Aboulafia speaks of a “complete disconnect” between Boeing engineers and executives.

    In its response to our film, Boeing has told journalists it “must question the motives” of our sources, accusing them of wanting to “harm the company.” It is exactly the opposite. In every case the people that spoke to us, on and off the record, cared deeply about Boeing and felt that it had lost its way. By talking about it, they hoped to help the company get back on track.

    It wasn’t always like this. As we learned while researching our documentary, workers used to identify themselves as proud members of a Boeing family based in Washington State.

    There was a culture of collaboration. Employees and retirees speak of the company’s former executives with affection. Men like Alan Mulally, Frank Schrontz and Walt Gillette were admired for their hands-on approach and their common-man catchphrases. One that still resonates: “You can’t manage a secret.”

    From the comment section:

    Randall Mack · Cypress, Texas

    so how about some details on the “changed” engineering practices that supposedly make the Dreamliner unsafe to fly in.

    Will Jordan

    Unfortunately much of the information and the details in the memos remain proprietary to Boeing, so we are limited in what we can say due to legal reasons.

    • Jordan’s statement about the disconnect between employees and management is hardly new for anyone who has had the remotest interest in following events. Nor does it change (nor does he address) the ambush of Larry Loftis. As I noted in my review, the piece would have been better positioned had it been The Old Boeing v McBoeing and how the events surrounding the 787 were symptom, not the end effect. Boeing is back in the derivative mode of McBoeing as a result of the flawed production model of the 787 imposed by McBoeing. Had the 787 been delivered on time in May 2008, the plan was to develop a clear-sheet replacement for the 737 followed by a clean sheet replacement for the 777.

      Boeing’s response about disgruntled employees and questioning motives is predictable, but what truly rankles Boeing is the ambush of Loftis and what it feels was Al Jazeera’s misrepresentations throughout the process about the substance of the “documentary.”

      Scott Hamilton

      • IMHO Dissatisfaction is rooted in sitting on the receiving end for a change.
        Go through reporting on Airbus and the business of interpreting something
        nefarious into rather unspectacular quips from Airbus management.
        ( took some talking at the time to gain some “reconsideration” here 😉

      • Sure, Mr Jordan used a bit of “gotcha” journalism methods in the the Larry Loftis interview. It seems incredulous, though, that Mr Loftis and Boeing wouldn’t have expected some “hardtalk-like” questioning from Mr Jordan. However, IMHO Mr Loftis looked woefully unprepared to talk about anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps they should have used a more savvy spokesperson?

        As for Al Jazeera’s supposed “misrepresentations throughout the process about the substance of the “documentary.””, I’d be curious to know why Boeing granted Al Jazeera access to their facilities in the first place? Was it partly due to the owner of that network also being the owner of an airline that’s a big time customer of Boeing? Aslo, what did they expect? An uncritical and rosy National Geographic-type portrayal of how the 787 is made?

        Finally, aren’t Boeing’s managers, at least, aware of the possibility that the lies being told on the Potemkin Rollout and subsequent charades on the “never ending” delays may have taken a serious toll on Boeing’s credibility on anything related to the 787?

        • Boeing expected to address past issues. What it did not expect was that Loftis–who was not associated with the 787 program during nearly all of the period in question–would be presented with information, allegations and documents for the first time over which he had no knowledge nor ability to look into allegations and be prepared to respond. AJ did not let Boeing know that during the course of the preparation, serious allegations had emerged. This is the crux of Boeing’s objections and frankly, I think Boeing is right on this point.

          Scott Hamilton

        • If a corporate spokesperson goes on camera and walks out, this is not going to be received positively by the viewer. Hence, a walk-out is usually going to be perceived as an admission of guilt. IMJ, that’s the crux of the issue. It’s immaterial to the case that Mr. Loftis only became general manager of the 787 programme as late as 2012 – formerly being the general manager of the 777 programme. On Al Jazeera he represented Boeing – period! The media and the public might love you today and vilify you tomorrow, so a company’s spokesperson has got to be prepared for anything. If Boeing had put a far more savvy and experienced spokesperson in front of the camera, I’m quite sure an interview walk-out could have been avoided.

          • The 787 is Mr. Loftis project since Februaray 2012.
            If he is worth his money he _should_ know about what went wrong with the programme.
            .. And he should be able to review that with some objectivity.
            I’d see it differently if he got his assignment just yesterday or even amonth or two days ago.

      • This is a 100 Billion dollar organization with a current reputation of low life conduct to its employees (and its supplier)

        I do not feel the least bit of sympathy. If they can’t cut it they should sell shoes.

        Back when I was working on the pipeline someone came up with the “this says it all” about Boeing type management

        “They want all the glory but they can’t stand the pain”.

        So, good they got egg on their face, they should know better but their ego’s get in the way.

  15. Why can’t Boeing, at least, come clean on the 787 Potemkin Rollout and admit for the first time that they lied to the world on July 8, 2007 about the 787’s first flight occurring within “a couple of months”.

    How could they claim, for example, in late July, or early August 2007, that first flight had been pushed back from the end of September into October, “mainly because of the complexity of installing and integrating various systems on the 787”, when ZA001 had virtually been an empty shell just a couple of weeks before.

    Boeing slips first 787 flight into October



    10 Aug 2007

    Boeing has reportedly pushed back first flight of its 787 aircraft from the end of September into October.

    The Seattle Post Intelligencer, citing people familiar with the matter, reports the manufacturer has pushed back the first flight mainly as a result of the complexity of installing and integrating various systems on the 787.

    In particular it says it has taken longer than expected to get the critical flight control systems and software up and running, and communicating with the other systems.

    As for Al Jazeera’s questioning about the Potemkin Rollout and Boeing’s response; it’s nothing but pathetic as Boeing’s only “defence” is to refer to two articles by Dominic Gates and Flightblogger about the “matter”. That’s pretty baffling, really. The fact of the matter is that Boeing has never come clean and admitted that rolling out the 787, Potemkin-like, was in fact, nothing but a mischievous and deceitful trick. Apparently, Boeing management was probably hoping that a Hail Mary would save the day, or that incremental revelations about the actual situation would be able fool customers and investors long enough, so that the first group, at least, wouldn’t go looking at other options.

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

    Abraham Lincoln

    Al Jazeera put the following questions to Boeing regarding the July 2007 rollout:

    Al Jazeera: Any comment on the statement that the airplane used at the 2007 rollout of the Dreamliner was a shell or a fake. Did Boeing executives know at the time that it was just a shell?

    Boeing: These questions were publicly addressed by the Company years ago, and we will not add to that record here.

    Al Jazeera: You mentioned that questions relating to the 2007 rollout had been publicly addressed by Boeing years ago, but I understand we have been unable to locate any press releases or interviews from Boeing. Would you point us towards whatever was said by Boeing on this subject, and ideally provide a copy of any press release or public statement that was issued at the time in relation to these claims?

    Boeing offered links to the following two articles in response:

  16. Average Journalist are Like the sea waves “they can Push You up or down Under”. We read You be cause You distance your self from that un-Professional sides. Let sixty minutes Barbara Walter unveil “Cosco/walmart” Like tabloid breaking news.

  17. Having spent a few years at BA and retireing long before the 7 late 7 fiasco, I can comment about the PR games re the late 7 rollout without fear of job.

    Has it ever dawned on anyone that several hundred employees absolutely KNEW the rollout was an empty shell- and that many supervisors and managers and executives also had to know ? And re the Boeing statement about Ms Cole then president of SPEEA- (for whom I have little respect based on other issues). At the time- SPEEA v Boeing was at a relatively low level of anti union games, and it made some sense for her to wave the Boeing flag. Likewise for the same reasons the IAM brass played along.

    The BA response re Cynthia Cole is IMO lower than pre school sandbox rhetoric and along the same lines as the ‘ cowering’ statements by BA brass. It seems the Corner Office types suffer from an epidemic of one foot in mouth while nuking the other. There were other points in the ALJ coverage to take a grown up issue with.

    Boeings later games with both unions re contracts and such IMO verified the old cliche – ” Play ball with us and we will shove the bat up . . . ”

    ALJ could have used a lot of the documented -study- surveys in the Book Turbulence to better make the point as to how and why the McBoeing mindset virtually guaranteed the 7 late 7 outcome to better make their point.

    Even though Loftis was ambushed- BA should have known better given the rep of ALJ to shove him in front of a Camera. IMO – thats the result of the same gang of PR Power Point rangers in the corner offices who put the PR re 7 8 7 ahead of common sense, engineering,credibility, and reputation.

    • I would guess the whole factory knew it, but they were loyal and kept quiet.

      McNenearny has put paid to that for sure. .

      And yes, they claim they are really the top tier, to fall for AJ ambush just shows you that they are marks, wave a bright shiny line in front of them and they fall all over themselves thinking how good they will look. A sucker is born every minute and they just think they are the ones that sucker the rest, when in fact they fall for it and often enough that it’s a predictable phenomenon

      You reap what you sow.

      • I wonder if Loftus was chosen by higher up on the grounds that he didn’t know much about what happened early on in the program. If Boeing thought it was a history show he was a strange choice of a representative. Sad for him as he seems to have gotten the program on track at last.

        • Loyalty had little to do with it. Career decisions are a great motivator, especially if one has a home, family, 10 or more years in, etc. By that time one has learned to read body language, org charts, and how to read between the lines on memos and meeting subjects. Local reporters know when to hold em and when to fold em

  18. “Has it ever dawned on anyone that several hundred employees absolutely KNEW the rollout was an empty shell- and that many supervisors and managers and executives also had to know ?”

    Yep….it’s dawned on me and I find the situation incredibly disturbing because it indicates that Boeing might just be chocked full of unethical people from bottom to top: all of them willing participants in “THE BIG LIE”.

    • ” .. Boeing might just be chocked full of unethical people from bottom to top:..”
      Not at all- totally wrong. The majority of workers are ethical. And they are not ” willing” participants. Speaking out is a career decision.

      I believe my cliche term applies ” Ethics are fine and proper, IF you can afford them. IF you want to stand up. be sure you know the total cost ” Very few workers are willing to put their jobs and family at risk by speaking truth to power. Sometimes, there are managers and executives who are gen-u-wine and will take appropriate action, but it only takes a few executives or managers to emphasize the ‘ we not only kill the messenger- but bayonet the stretcher bearers.” Boeing is NOT unique in that problem.

      High level executives who did not follow the party line on 787 found themselves in the equivalent of Siberia verifying the number of snowflakes per cubic foot in the winter.

      And yes, I’ve dealt with both types at the very highest levels. Prior to the rollout it did not take a memo or direct order to zip your lips- tacking a few hides on the wall for lesser issues and a review of org charts has always been sufficient. It still is.

  19. There seems to be the impression that the “no dissenting opinions allowed” and “take no prisoners response” culture was adopted after the Boeing merger. Nothing could be further from the truth. Two examples:
    In 1983, shortly after the introduction of the 767 my Director was removed from his job and given an assignment to raise funds for the Museum of Flight because he told Joe Sutter about some of the 767 “teething” problems. When confronted by Joe, the 767 VP/GM denied that those problems existed and then immediately went on a witch hunt and a head had to roll.
    In the fall of 1997, at an airline meeting in Europe, the 737NG Chief Project Engineer (CPE) commented, in response to a question, that the 737-800 window exits may have to be redesigned to achieve 189 passenger certification. During the next break, none other than Alan Mullaly told the CPE to retract that comment and threatened to fire him if he ever made another remark suggesting that certification would be anything other than routine. (The window exits were redesigned and the CPE was fired less than a year later.)

    • A bit of a digression, but here’s another bit of Boeing overwing exit history. In the 1980’s when Boeing first offered the 747-400, someone decided that the over-wing door 3 exits could be deactivated: bolted shut and covered by the sidewall with seats next to it. The only restriction was that main deck occupancy was limit to 440 [the upper deck was certified separately]. It added like 12 more economy class seats. New customers went for it in droves. In-service 747 classic operators lined up for retrofit kits.

      Then the FAA limited the space between exits to 60 ft. The distance between doors 2 and 4 was 72 ft. Frantic scramble to reactivate the exits for -400’s in the pipeline. Refunds for sold retrofit kits. Installed kits had to be removed. But, all of British Airways’ in-service 747-100’s and -200B’s spent their remaining in-service years with sealed overwing door 3 exits, Their new 747-400’s used all the exits

      Don Shuper or anyone, do you have any more history on this? Does anyone know why the UKCAA allowed BA to keep their exits sealed?

      • No I do not know – and on that particular issue I cant even make a rational guess.

    • Those kind of stories definitely did not start with McBoeing- there has always been a certain amount of that kind of thing at Boeing, and other adeospace and manufacturing companies. But prior to McBoeing, Engineering always had the final word- and thru the 60’s, Bill Allen would personally have fired any manager or supervisor who tried such a game. In the 70’s, Boeing had as xmas party in the kingdome for all employees and families. In the 80’s, I know for a fact, certain program managers made it very clear that such petty politics were verboten in at least their program. even so , it still happened- and sometimes it was as described, and sometimes almost a myth. But After McBoeing, the mendacity of senior managers and executives swept to the forefront. Suggest you read “turbulence” to see the effects and the results of a long term survey on those issues.

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  21. It’s a crazy world – or so it seems to me.

    Take for example the Boeing’s Statement’
    “What has been produced is as biased a production as we have seen in some time. It is unfortunate that the producers of this television program appear to have has fallen into the trap of distorting facts, relying on claims rejected by courts of law, breathlessly rehashing as “news” stories that have been covered exhaustively in the past, and relying on anonymous sources, who appear intent only on harming The Boeing Company.”
    What moral right to they have to complain about Aljazeera’s behaviour when Boeing (and most of its present management) purportrated the massive LIE that was the 787 Roll Out.

    • Using ” moral right ” and Boeing in the same sentence is a oxy-moron, and has been since the90’s.

      Actually it almost dissappeared when bill allen stepped down.

      Bill put out the word when the TFX ( F-111) contract was pushed to Generous Dynamics and after being called to testify before congress- with the offer to re-open the contract and have a fly off. He refused the offer- and made certain that any member of management who said ‘ we got screwed re TFX would no longer be an manager and perhaps an employee of Boeing ” ( paraphrased )

  22. Pingback: Al Jazeera dumps “Inside Story” look at 787 documentary | Leeham News and Comment

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