Last Inspector’s Blog – Fighting FAA & Boeing Fraud from the 737 to the 787

Alert From the Project On Government Oversight Supporting their Op-Ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer  

Monday, May 12, 2008, 12:14 AM
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If you thought the last blog was noteworthy, check out this alert on the Project On Government Oversight’s website, which gives facts and data backing up their op-ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that showed that Boeing and the FAA knew my report on massive rollerstamping fraud by BCA inspectors was correct. Yet over the years they knew it was the status quo at BCA they did nothing about this fraud allowing defects of unknown number and severity to deliver to airline and government customers. In fact, the STA (Special Technical Audit) of BCA in 1999/2000 was actually used to further weaken an already ineffective quality system, rather than to make it more effective, as an reasonable person would deduce was what was needed.

This effort to weaken and make “less prescriptive” Boeing’s already sievelike quality system was called the “Quality Management System,” or QMS. Why would Boeing further weaken such a compromised quality assurance department as documented in the STA? Because, of course, as noted on my website, Boeing management was always aware rollerstamping was going on on a massive scale in QA because it was Boeing management who wanted that fraud to take place for cost and production flow reasons. And they knew they could count on their counterparts in the FAA to look the other way.

In January, 2002, I began my effort to end the rollerstamping in Boeing QA after my manager of the time proved to me it was Boeing management directed fraud, by going to the FAA. After several rounds of trying to get the FAA and Boeing Headquarters management to end that fraud placing passenger and crew lives at extra risk for a few more bottom line dollars for Boeing, Boeing dared me to go public, knowing they had FAA management to cover for their continuing fraud. The FAA had reliably done so since at least the 1999 STA.

That’s where the “Dual Failures” charade came in, which began, not coincidentally, just after I last spoke with Boeing about the subject, in October, 2003. This was a cover for Both FAA and Boeing management should I go public, as they and I expected I would. However, due to aforesaid reasons, I was unable to do so in a timely manner. They thought that I had decided to not go public after all, so they dropped this “Dual Failures” cover up project. More proof of Boeing/FAA management complicity in ensuring the rollerstamping quality system at BCA can continue. What more proof does DOT OIG Inspector General Scovel need to investigate the crooks in the FAA “overseeing” Boeing Type and Production Certificates? You have to wonder at what point they will step up and do their jobs in this critical area. Corrupt FAA mmanagement are not going to out themselves. Real oversight of BCA is needed now that will not only restore Boeing’s quality system to minimum standards, but also restore Boeing’s and/or the FAA’s oversight of Boeing supplier’s compliance with minimum quality system standards, which the OIG has documented serious noncompliances with. The root causes of both are the same–corrupt BCA and FAA management.


May 8, 2008

Internal Boeing Documents Support Whistleblower’s Allegations: Aircraft Quality Control Problems Cited

For Immediate Release
Contact Nick Schwellenbach (202) 347-1122

Internal Boeing documents obtained by the Project On Government Oversight show that the allegations of a former Boeing quality control inspector facing criminal charges have merit. Quality control problems at Boeing increase the likelihood that defective aircraft parts end up on planes and flaws in the manufacturing of planes remain uncorrected. This can potentially threaten public safety and drive up the cost of aircraft maintenance. These documents are linked at the bottom of this release.

Gerald Eastman, the former Boeing inspector, is facing a second trial of criminal charges for disclosing Boeing information to the press. His first trial last month resulted in a mistrial when jurors could not agree on whether Eastman committed “computer trespass.” Mr. Eastman claims that his involvement with the press stemmed from the lack of corrective actions taken by Boeing and the government in response to his disclosures of wrongdoing to them.

An internal Boeing memo sent to Boeing employees in October 2000 stated that misuse of “production stamps” or “roller-stamping” can result in negative consequences for the company and the individual misusing their stamp. Roller-stamping is the misuse of production stamps to stamp work on critical parts and assemblies as complete and fully inspected when there has only been a cursory inspection, if one at all, of the part or assembly in question. Eastman’s central claim is that he had perceived widespread “roller-stamping” and Boeing did little to curtail the practice.

“These documents show that Eastman clearly had a reasonable basis for his belief roller-stamping was occurring,” according to Nick Schwellenbach, POGO investigator. “It’s one thing to break company policy on releasing documents and getting fired, it’s another matter to file criminal charges. Who do the prosecutors work for?”

The Boeing memo came months after the Federal Aviation Agency conducted a special technical audit of Boeing that concluded that there were systemic quality control problems. The 2000 FAA special technical audit found “in some cases, manufacturing planning was not adequate, requirements were not followed, inspections were not specific, or personnel were not knowledgeable about requirements.” Thus, “parts, assemblies, and installations are released through the system that do not conform” to approved designs. Also, in 2000, the FAA proposed “a record $1.24 million in civil penalties against Boeing for inadequate supplier oversight and for failing to quickly report cracked parts on two older jetliners,” according to a news report (James Wallace, “FAA Audit Rips Boeing Over 100 Production, Design Problems Detailed; Company Plans Corrective Action,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 11, 2000.).

Years later, roller-stamping was still occurring when Eastman acted on his concerns.

Boeing certainly was aware of the practice because a Boeing document dated January 2004, states that, “There appears to be a systemic issue within BCA [Boeing Commercial Aircraft] involving parallel process breakdowns of mechanics and inspectors involved in assembling and inspecting aircraft, assemblies and parts.” The 2004 document also states that the FAA examined 55 issues at Boeing between 2002 and 2003 and found that “24% of these issues have involved instances where the mechanic and inspector created and accepted nonconforming conditions”—i.e. roller-stamping.

In further support of Eastman’s claims, other Boeing employees became whistleblowers when they reported that Boeing supplier Ducommun was regularly supplying non-conforming parts to Boeing, according to the whistleblowers’ False Claims Act lawsuit obtained by POGO. Now-former Boeing employees Taylor Smith, Jeannine Prewitt and James Ailes were then retaliated against by management because Boeing allegedly did not want to deal with the repercussions of their findings.

For additional information

Boeing Commercial Airplane Group memorandum, Use of personal stamps in our production system ,” October 31, 2000.

Federal Aviation Administration, Special Technical Audit of Boeing Commercial Airplane Group ,” December 1, 1999, through February 11, 2000.

Boeing Airplane Program Systemic Issues Chartered Team 1, Investigation of ‘Dual Failures ,'” January 2004.

United States of America ex rel Taylor Smith, Jeannine Prewitt and James Ailes vs. The Boeing Company and Ducommun, Inc. , Federal District Court of Kansas. Filed on March 11, 2005.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.