tv The Stream Al Jazeera January 19, 2015 3:30am-4:01am EST
our digital producer, wajahat ali is here. raised an incredible conversation online. >> our online community is fafnedfascinated. we got folks from the aviation agency to give a comment. here is zephyr. let me say that the boeing dreamliner is an absolute safe plane to operate. we told the community that almost 2 million americans per day boarded airplanes. what has it done to earn your trust on google plus, penny says nothing at all. >> it is no secret the boeing sphaifn787 was fraught with delays. is there more to the story. al jazeera's gaifnlgal jazeera's geaiveal
jazeera's investigative documentary broken dreams, boeing 787. here's more. >> this is in south carolina. workers here in charleston are assembling the flagship product 787 dreamliner. but some have little faith in the plane they build. >> will you fly in one? >> no. >> you won't fly in one .1. >> not really. >> out of 15 workers asked ten said they would not fly on the dreamliner. an employee captured the footage
after contacting al jazeera to tell us he had serious concerns about what he was seeing. at his request we changed his voice. >> with all the problems reported on the 787 there's 90% that's getting swept away, hushed up. it's an iceberg. >> clearly there's a lot to unpack here. mark schaeffer senior producer of al jazeera and broken dreams, 787. john golia ntsb the independent federal agency that investigates every aviation accident in the united states. currently he is a consultant for airlines. the 787 had issues long before you embrarkd on this embarked on the documentary. what prompted you to do this
film? >> two battery fires in 2013. he wondered what was going on. that was a first-ever event by the faa never grounded an entire fleet of aircraft. will wanted to know what was wrong with this plane was something wrong this plane? found out there was a much bigger story than just the batteries. >> how did you get to this, they thought the batteries were fixed the plane is back in the air all is good. >> right. >> what kept you on the trail for a year on this story? >> after the third day on the project, i joined about six months after will began his investigation. i met will in seattle washington and we met with employees who make that aircraft, my introduction to that story. i asked them at one point would you fly on the aircraft?
this is months after the airplane was put back in the air because the battery problem was supposedly fixed. about half of them said they would not. that told me immediately there was something other than the battery that was raising concerns within the boeing workforce, the people who know that plane best of all. i didn't know much about airplanes at all, in fact. but digging into it took a i have long time a year. >> we have our online community as a third host of the show, as we sometimes say lisa, we got a question for you from brian. from the issues of the ram familiarfamcomponent, specifically there's been some discussion that boeing has changed some practices after the '97 merge were mcdonnell douglas what is your response to that question? >> the short answer is yes. after 1997, boeing merged with
mcdonnell douglas company that had a different corporate culture, much more focused on investors and shareholder return less on engineering and in order to keep cost low on the development of their 787 aircraft to convince this new boeing to green light this aircraft they came up with an unprecedented way of building an aircraft. to outsource not only the manufacturing of the plane but the design of the planes to dozens and dozens and dozens of companies around the globe. boeing was able to make what is an unprecedented aircraft in terms of new technology. >> john, you oar former ntsb board member. i want to put you on the spot. you saw the documentary did it raise issues for you in regard
to the 787 aircraft? are you thinking, all of this is resolved? >> i'm thinking the issue of drug use which we haven't touched yet in the workplace is far more concerning to me than what we have identified so far as quality issues. one of the things that we shouldn't lose sight of is the fact that these airplanes are overbuilt and overengineered from the beginning so there isn't a process in the world that goes through that you're making something that you don't have variations in it. so sometimes you're doing better than what it's supposed to be made to and sometimes you're dipping below and that's mostly because of human beings in the process. so there are those variables. be boeing company has been going through a lot of changes since the mcdonnell douglas merger and people ris resist change. that is very evident in seattle
there are people that are disgruntled if you will, there is no indication so far that those changes have really caused any serious safety problems. >> mark i want to talk about some of the criticisms that boeing has of the documentary john just mentioned disgruntled employees. that's one of the things that boeing said in its response, i got their actual statement it's unfortunate that the producers fall into the trap of distorting facts and rely on anonymous sources whose only intent is harming the boeing company. they may have a point it may be convenient to blame this on disgruntled employees. did you get a sense that a plt of this was potentially sour grapes? >> no, not at all. there is a divide in boeing born of this plernlger.
the legacy -- merger. the legacy boeing engineers and machinists regret these changes and they're unhappy with them. but that doesn't mean that they're not genuinely concerned about what they're witnessing. the noition of notion of a disgruntleed employee lacks credibility. in the watergate affair, that person was disgruntled. if you were not disgruntled you would not have concerns to raise in the first place. i say the very best sources for journalists are disgruntled. >> all right one of the things that an employee raised with you either anonymous or in disguise,
>> this is a crime against humanity >> hands up! >> don't shoot! >> hands up! >> don't shoot! >> what do we want? justice! >> when do we want it? >> now! >> they are running towards base... >>...explosions going off we're not quite sure... >> fault lines al jazeera america's emmy winning, investigative, documentary, series... ♪ ♪ >> unimaginable. that we could be three years late have a fleet grounding. >> they're short changing the engineering process to meet a schedule. >> welcome back. that was a clip from the al jazeera documentary broken dreams the boeing 787. exploring quality concerns and history over the dreamliner. cynthia cole spent 32 years at the boeing company as an engineer. she's also the former president
of boeing's engineer's union. cynthia, thanks for being here. in the film you express concern about the engineering schedule. you're an engineer. there are ways to do that without compromising quality. what is it in the context of boeing that got your attention? >> well, with the 787 what got my attention was they were putting schedule and cost above everything else. and the heritage boeing that i had hired onto, you always would work for quality and to do the engineering right. and then the schedule we would work massive overtime hours to make the schedule yet the quality had to be there. the engineering had to be done right. and as president of the union i became concerned when i was being approached by employees who were on the 787 program people i didn't even know but they would recognize me from my
picture in the union publications and they would stop me in the grocery store at best buy, you name it. i was being stopped by people, i had no idea who they were and they would introduce themselves as boeing employees and told me where they worked and they would address concerns with me that they had on the project because they said my supervisor is not listening to me i'm not allowed to bring problems. >> isn't that typical of employees complaining to the head of their union? >> no. >> you were head of the entire engineering union so i would think you got that all the time. >> no i didn't. the only time i would get specific complaints about a program was when the employees didn't feel that they were being listened to by their first level supervisor. and that's typical of boeing that the first level supervisor is where you take all of your problems and you tell them this is -- i don't think this is right, this process is not working whatever the issue is we would tend to keep the problems
of a program within the program. we didn't, you know, put them out to the world. and we would just address problems -- because i was on various programs and those problems that we'd address or that we'd come across they stayed within the program. and so i wasn't even on the 787 and yet i'm hearing boat loads about the 787 and i didn't hear anything about any other program. not to the level that i was getting complaints and issues brought up to me about the 787. these employees were genuinely worried because no one was listening to them and they could see the train wreck coming long down the pike and they say you know you got to fix those problems now you can't wait until they're embedded into the process and the design of the plane, you want to fix those sooner than later. the supervisors were saying, don't even bring me those
problems. i'm not going to be the supervisor that stops this schedule or slow this schedule down. don't bring it to me. >> what do you think about the american airline industry outsourcing critical manufacturing to nonunion workers, william santiago, i don't think you like this answer bust here it is, the unions are outmoded dinosaurs. cynthia why is the outsourcing of critical manufacturing of this airliner to nonunion workers problematic to consumers? >> there's various issues here. number one is, i don't agree. the machinist union at the boag company isboeing company is the best and they are not lazy people and they have the training of their own workers and they apprentice workers. you've got senior level workers doing this complicated work and they are training the next generation of machinists.
they have their own internal training and they work their butts off. so the outsourcing -- the boeing company has very strict standards and i had brought this newspaper a renton town hall, the problem was we were taking vernts andvendors and suppliers who we had always used, and they were on their own of getting things done where a vendor or supplying, we call the shot, where they a partner they call the shots. they don't have the history of the boeing company. there is only one boeing company. if the boeing company should have been the one designing these parts or giving them to suppliers and vendors whom we had strict control of and make
sure everything was done right. this was the problem of the 787. it was partners not suppliers. >> i want to shift from the outsourcing back to the other boeing plant which is in south carolina. boag we invited them to come on the program and they -- boeing we invited them to come on the program and they declined. they said airplanes whether delivered from south carolina or washington meet the highest safety and quality standards that are verified through robust test variation and standards processes. there were questions raised about the quality of the planes coming out of the south carolina plant different from what came out of the washington plant. john isn't standards the same whether it's washington or south carolina or anywhere, u.s.a?
>> it's supposed to be the same. the tooling you use to check is supposed to be all the same. so if there's different quality coming out of the different plants that should be a concern to management. and listening to cynthia a few minutes ago and also listening to one of the reporters earlier one of the things that comes out pretty loud and clear is, the employees' dissatisfaction with not being listened to which always leads to a disgruntled employee and public disclosures. so boeing's management has a responsibility to their employees to listen to their concerns and address them and that's clear from what's been said here that that hasn't happened. now how much of that is going to equate to an unsafe product at the end of the day from afar i don't think any of us can say one way or the other that it's going to definitely lead to an unsafe product. but the drug use in the facility
is a concern. and if, you know, no matter where you are there are abuses of produce. you go into toulouse where airbus is built you can get wine in the cafeteria. in the u.s. we would not find that acceptable but that is normal in toulouse and other places in europe. there are so many variables in this story that you guys have uncovered that it's really difficult to bring it to a conclusion. and to point the finger and say and this is bad and this is going to cause a negative outcome. >> john you mentioned drug use. a worker was recorded discussing drug use among boeing employees on some of the undercover video included in the film. take a listen. >> they don't test everybody. >> i know they don't. >> do they? >> hell yeah. >> let's talk a little bit more about this idea of drug use on
the floor. the number of people that raised it. during the interview. >> we -- we had an employee approach us, okay, we have been doing work in south carolina trying to figure out what's going on in that plant.there had beenplant.there had been publicly reported got us interested in what was going on down there. an employee approached us out of the blue, and said he had to get something off his chest. he took a camera in the plant he alleged drug abuse in the plant. three four five people, maybe six people confirmed in conversation with him that drugs are being used in the plant cocaine, painkillers weed, you can get very good weed in the
plant you can go buy it, cocaine, okay? these were allegations that this was going on and this is not wine okay? whatever you think about a nice glass of merlot at lunch cocaine, methamphetamine oxyconton is very different. that is what we heard that's what this man alleged and that is what the other workers discussed with him. >> on that note, we're going to have to take a break. cynthia cole and john you're going to stick around. a look at what some call the government to corporate revolving door. ray suarez hosts inside story weekdays at 5pm et / 2pm pt only on al jazeera america
documentary, broken dreams, the boeing 787. relationships that could be perceived as too cozy between politicians, regulators, and big government. woj. >> spokewaj. >> every single day about 8 million of us fly in one of these. as airline passengers we make compromises on luggage leg room food. but the one thing we never expect to compromise on: our safety. the new al jazeera documentary broken dreams highlights the safety concerns surrounding boeing's commercial airplane, the 787 dreamliner. the film also highlights the close relationship between some government rerkts and regulators and
boeing. the vp of the association that represents the manufacturer. consumer advocate says the relationship is problematic for consumers. >> this is definitely a conflict of are interest. those who are overseeing the safety of american airline passengers should not be thinking they are going to the airline industry after their service, their public service. we want an faa that is at arm's length. if the faa is keeping the industry's interest above passenger safety then we are going to be seeing very weak and ineffective safety regulations and that's got to be a concern for anybody flying. >> joining us is craig holman. the story that we just showed craig, it mentions a key figure in the piece ral ali ali verani.
retired and months later was hired as president of the aerospace administration, to advocate for more regulation in the aerospace industry. is it common to go from government regulator to lobbyist and this revolving door? >> it may be common but doesn't make it any less alarming. this is a pernicious form of influence peddling on capitol hill. what we have seen is pogue and the faa develop a very close relationship that does put a risk of passenger travel on
boeing air crafts. the revolving door works two different ways, the corporation or the airline industry trying to get their friends on the faa in key positions. and that's called regulatory capture. that's the company taking over those who are supposed to oversee the company. then you have the regular revolving door where the company makes it clear to key officials that they can get a very lucrative job with boeing if they play nice. and this is a story about that type of relationship. >> john -- >> i would take great exception to what he just said, all right? where they would say beforehand that they're going to give you a job. i find that offensive. on behalf of people that work in federal government and who have left and change jobs.
got my blood pressure up today thought it would be a nice calm day. >> john does it raise questions with regard to consumer safety? that's an issue that craig raised. >> there are cases where that expertise that the person has needs to go into the public side or the private side. we've seen it in europe firsthand where people that work for airbus will take a leave of absence for two or three years and go into the government to oversee the products in the industry they just came from. now you're saying if that's bad there's no ethics, there's no morals in these people. i find most people in the aviation industry have high regard for the jobs they have. you have heard it on the whistle blowers. >> we'll have to end it there. until next time waj and i will