The Rapeutation of Boeing Whistleblower John M. Barnett

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The Rapeutation of Boeing Whistleblower John M. Barnett

Postby admin » Fri Dec 20, 2019 12:53 am

The Rapeutation of Boeing Whistleblower John M. Barnett
Interview with John M. Barnett
by Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
November 16, 2019

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 297: Boeing 787 Dreamliner: “Hundreds of Defective Parts”
November 16, 2019

Ralph hears from courageous former Boeing Quality Control Manager, John M. Barnett, who blew the whistle on shoddy production of the 787 Dreamliner, how the FAA has backed off on oversight, and how Boeing “bean counters” have put profits over safety.

John M. Barnett was a Quality Control Manager for Boeing Company for 25 years in its Seattle facility. He transferred in 2011 to manage Boeing’s new plant in South Carolina to build the 787 Dreamliner where he revealed shoddy production as reported on the front-page of the April 20, 2019, New York Times. He retired under pressure in 2017 and assumed the challenge to inform the flying public. His whistleblower complaint to OSHA is pending.

“I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I would put my name on saying that it’s safe and air-worthy.” -- John M. Barnett, former Quality Control Manager on the 787 Dreamliner

“In aircraft production, and working with Boeing all these years, we have a rule of thumb: that it takes eight to ten years for a defect to become an issue on an airplane. So, if you look at the eight to ten-year time frame before a defect becomes an issue and our first plane was delivered in 2012, we’re starting to get into that eight to ten-year window.” -- John M. Barnett, former Quality Control Manager on the 787 Dreamliner

“Boeing’s number one priority should be the safety of the flying public. And the last six years that I worked with them, that is the last thing on their mind… Because it’s just about kicking airplanes out and making the cash register ring.” -- John M. Barnett, former Quality Control Manager on the 787 Dreamliner


RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EP 297 TRANSCRIPT

Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with my co-host David Feldman. How are you today, David?

David Feldman: Excited about today's show, of course.

Steve Skrovan: And we also have the man of the hour Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hello everybody.

Steve Skrovan: And I'm excited about today's show, too. Last week we had Dr. George Luber on the show. He was being honored with the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage for blowing the whistle at the Centers for Disease Control when he was ordered to tamp down his efforts to deal with the climate crisis. Well on the show today, we're going to feature another courageous Joe A. Callaway Award winner. His name is John M. Barnett.

Regular listeners to this show know the many different ways we have covered the Boeing MAX 8 story. We've talked about how mergers and management decisions have turned a once great engineering company into more of a financial company, intent on jacking up its stock price, not through innovation, but through buying back its own stock. We've talked about how the Federal Aviation Commission dropped the ball and allowed Boeing to essentially regulate itself. And we've talked about how the marketeers at Boeing have continually overruled the engineers.

Mr. Barnett was a quality control expert at Boeing working not on the MAX 8, but on the 787 Dreamliner at their big production facility in South Carolina. There he blew the whistle on shoddy engineering and a corporate culture where profits trumped safety. He's got an eye- opening story to tell, and we look forward to hearing that. As always, we will take a moment after that to find out what's happening in the other dark recesses of the corporate underworld with our corporate crime reporter Russell Mokhiber, and Ralph will also answer some listener questions. But first, let's meet yet another courageous whistleblower. David?

David Feldman: John M. Barnett was a quality control manager at Boeing for 25 years in its Seattle facility. He transferred in 2011 to manage Boeing's new plant in South Carolina to build the 787 Dreamliner where he revealed shoddy production, as reported on the front page of the April 20th 2019 New York Times. He retired under pressure in 2017, and assumed the challenge to inform the flying public. His whistleblower complaint to OSHA is now pending. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, John Barnett.

John M. Barnett: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Ralph Nader: Indeed welcome, John Barnett. Describe the plane that you have been very concerned about, the Dreamliner, and how many of them are up in the air. When was the first one launched?

John M. Barnett: Okay, it's a 787, and the biggest concern came when they opened the Charleston plant. That's when the issues and shoddy production work really started. And I believe our first delivery out of there was 2012.

Ralph Nader: And why did they open a plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, where there was a dearth of skilled workers, instead of expanding their facility in Seattle where, I understand, the Dreamliner is also produced, in your judgment, at a much higher standard than at South Carolina? What brought them to South Carolina?

John M. Barnett: Well, I can tell you, Ralph, that the information they shared with us from Boeing was, they were trying to expand the production facilities, and bring other areas into the mix. But from an internal standpoint, it was more about the union activity that was up in Washington State, and there was the battles with them, and the strikes that they were causing, so they really wanting to get to a non-unionized Right-to-Work State.

Ralph Nader: Did the Governor of South Carolina help them do that? Nikki Haley is now on the board of the Boeing corporation for a few meetings, earning as other board members are, over $300,000 a year. What was it, besides being a nonunion state, did they give them all kinds of subsidies?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir. The information we were provided inside of Boeing, as employees, were that there were hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks, and that type of thing, that Boeing was offered to go to South Carolina. And part of that deal was that we hired most of the employees locally, so we were not allowed to go to areas that had high experience in aerospace and airplane building. We had to hire the local people fresh out of college.

Ralph Nader: And I remember Boeing was saying that they were going to have training facilities to upgrade untrained workers to the very demanding tasks of assembling an aircraft. This was really not a manufacturing facility as it was an assembling one, isn't that right? They were bringing various parts from around the country, in the world?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, that's correct. The 787 is fabricated from various parts of the world, and they all come together and the final assembly is performed in Charleston and Everett. Yes, sir.

Ralph Nader: You were a quality control inspector who received high commendations when you worked at the Seattle plant?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir.

Ralph Nader: You volunteered to go to South Carolina. You've once said that the quality control inspectors at Boeing are the last check, the last safety check, before the plane takes off with passengers?

John M. Barnett: That's correct. The quality control, or quality personnel, are the last line of defense. That's correct.

Ralph Nader: Given the importance of this skill, why is it that Boeing is laying off literally hundreds of quality control people in both their Seattle plant and South Carolina? What's their reason for that?

John M. Barnett: Well, they've been preaching for years that quality is non-value added, it doesn't bring any value to the product, so they’ve been trying real hard to eliminate quality. And in the process of eliminating quality, what they're doing internally is they're telling inspectors not to document defects. They're telling quality folks to do a visual buy off, and not document things, and it's just way outside the realms of how they should be building airplanes.

Ralph Nader: John, when you use the word quality, I think it's almost a term of art. You don't mean metallurgical quality, or something? You're talking about quality control inspectors, aren’t you?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, that's correct. Yeah, so within Boeing, you have what you call the quality department, and you have manufacturing. And within the quality department, that's where your inspectors are, your quality managers, your quality assurance investigators, anything having to do with quality of the product, is under the quality organization.

Ralph Nader: So why they want to eliminate that critical role? Because they know if a plane goes down because of Boeing's neglect or negligence, it can be all hell for Boeing to pay. Look what happened after the two MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and on other crashes in the past. I mean, how can they dare take a risk like that? Who's going to replace several hundred Boeing quality control inspectors in Seattle and in South Carolina?

John M. Barnett: So what their plan is--what they call MFPP--it's a multifunction process, or production process. And basically, what it allows is the mechanic to buy off his buddies' work. So mechanics are buying off each other's work, saying that it's good to go.

Ralph Nader: We're talking with John Barnett, former quality control inspector for the Boeing corporation on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. John, aren't they also arguing that automation is better, more reliable than human quality control inspectors? I heard that reported in the press.

John M. Barnett: Yes, that is correct. However, it's very limited on what can actually be implemented within the aircraft program. We've had several what I'd call false starts with the technology, where they're promising that it's bigger, better and badder than any inspector when they go to implement it, and it isn’t. So there's a lot of trial and error, and there's a lot of discussion before they've actually implemented things and proven them out.

Ralph Nader: Well, your experience, which we'll get to in a moment, the shoddy situation going on in the North Charleston plant in South Carolina, was so detailed that you were the main source for the New York Times Sunday page 1 expose of what was going on down there with the Dreamliner, and the sloppiness, carelessness in the Charleston, North Carolina plant. So would you run us through how it all started? I mean, you were one of numerous quality control inspectors, and some of them have followed your courage after you took the first step. But what is it about the other quality control inspectors, when they see the same things you see, that they don't protest, they don't write it up?

John M. Barnett: Well, and that goes back to the inexperience of the workforce. The people that's been hired in Charleston are brand new to Boeing, so they're basically doing what they're told. They're not experienced and knowledgeable enough to know when to push back when it's not right. They're just doing what's told, and following direction. And the management there is just laying pressure on them big time to get the planes out the door regardless of the condition, just to get them delivered and make the cash register ring.

Ralph Nader: What fascinated me when I read the New York Times article is the sloppiness on a plane that sells for how much? How much does one Dreamliner sell for?

John M. Barnett: Well they're advertised, they’re listed for 150 million, and they actually sell for about 150 million.

Ralph Nader: 150 million?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir.

Ralph Nader: And they're leaving all kinds of junk on the plane after they’ve finished assembling it. Why don’t you describe how you started seeing things you couldn't believe, compared to the higher standards you left in the Seattle Dreamliner plant?

John M. Barnett: Oh, absolutely, yes.

Ralph Nader: Why don’t you give us that narrative?

John M. Barnett: Okay, so just a real quick background, it's been 25 years in Everett, Washington building, working on 747, 777, 787 when it first started up there. And the culture in Everett, and actually Washington State, you know, you got to think back. There are several generations of employees that have been building airplanes, so you have the generational knowledge transfer of how to build airplanes. And the culture up there, and the general population, understands the criticality of following processes and procedures, and making sure the airplane is built correctly, whereas you do not have that in Charleston. They don’t understand the ramifications of what a defect can cause, because they don't have that experience. And what we found in Charleston, or what I've noticed in Charleston ,is there's a lot more pressure on mechanics to just buy off their jobs and get them sold. I mean, they're measured almost by the hour, and are measured by how many, like we call them "beans" you know, a job. When they go to complete the job, and get them inspected by an inspector and bought off, we call it a bean. So they're all about "bean counts" you know, how many jobs they can get done in a day, and not necessarily if it's done correctly. And the pressure from management is just get the airplanes out. And another part of the Charleston culture that I've noticed is that the leadership here seems to be more interested in self promotions, instead of making sure the product is built correctly, if that makes sense. So it's more focused on themselves, on how a decision might affect their career, versus how it's going to affect the airplane. You know what I'm saying?

Ralph Nader: Right. But what did you start to discover?

John M. Barnett: So I think they're really making some poor decisions. And when I first moved down to Charleston, I was the first quality manager hired to set up the Charleston plant, and we had developed training plans from the quality perspective of how to look up procedures, how to follow drawings, you know--how to do your job. And we were pretty much shut down. None of the mechanics went through our training. Very few of our inspectors had to go through it. Manufacturing had set up a training program for their mechanics, and it was mandatory for our inspectors to go through their training. So I sent my inspectors to it, and they came back and said the only thing they're teaching them is how to roller stamp paperwork. They're not teaching them how to build an airplane. They're not teaching them how to follow processes, just how to roll out jobs. So that's kind of where it started right when Charleston first opened up. And just over the years, it just got worse and worse as far as bypassing procedures, not documenting defects, not maintaining configuration control of the airplane.

And towards the end of my time at Boeing, the issues that I discovered was we had hundreds of defective parts. And what a defective part is is something that does not meet engineering or quality requirements and should not be used on an airplane. So we had hundreds upon hundreds of missing nonconforming parts that they didn't know where they went. So I wanted to make sure that we tracked these parts down, traced them down [to] figure out where they went. If they'd been installed on airplanes, we needed to get them corrected. My management shut me down. They basically did what we call "pencil-whip." So when you have a job that you have to perform at Boeing, it's a work order, and it's got steps, and each step has the specific instruction of what you need to do or how you need to install a part in the airplane. Well, rather than mechanics actually installing the parts, and inspectors verifying it, they just sit at their desks and roller stamp things. And we find parts all over the place that the paperwork says it's been installed, but parts are sitting over on a shelf.

Ralph Nader: Good heavens. I could see passengers listening to this and saying, yuck, what is going on here? This is $150 billion plane, and they're engaged in sloppy pencil-whipping as you say? We're talking with John M. Barnett who is described by the Callaway Award for Civic Courage as "A defiant trustee for airline passenger and crew safety as veteran quality control manager for the Boeing corporation on the Boeing 747-767-777, and 787 programs." And you have been quoted as saying "I haven't seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’d put my name on saying it's safe and air worthy." Well, have any of these planes crashed due to the sloppiness and the misplaced parts at the Charleston plant?

John M. Barnett: No sir, they have not as of yet, but let me throw in a caveat that in production, in aircraft production, and working with Boeing all these years, we have a rule of thumb--that it takes 8 to 10 years for a defect to become an issue on an airplane. So, you know, if you look at the 8-10-year timeframe before a defect becomes an issue, and our first plane was delivered in 2012, you know, we're starting to get into that 8-10-year window. So you're correct, we have not lost any 787s to date, and thank God, and I hope that continues. I'm just really concerned that the way they were produced and delivered, that is not going to be the case in the future.

Ralph Nader: Well, when Boeing's managers and higher ups saw your write-ups, your documented write-ups on misplaced parts, missing parts, parts in the wrong place, shavings here and there, did they move to correct it? And what are they doing if these planes are already up in the air? Are they thinking about sending bulletins to the airlines? Apart from what they did to you, which we'll get to, what are they doing for that? I mean who's in charge here? Doesn't all this come down from top management?

John M. Barnett: Yes sir, it does. It comes from top down. But in Charleston, you're right, you know that it's more about profits over safety and quality. And like I say, they're really putting the pressure on the mechanics just to close things down and quality to not document defects. And it's an ongoing thing. And you hear about the titanium slivers that's all in the flight control wires, and the electronic equipment, and that type of thing, you know, that's a major issue. And when I brought it up, I insisted that the airplanes be cleaned. And I told my boss right out I refuse to buy off on this airplane as is. I was transferred to a different location. He brought in another way less experienced quality manager than myself, and leadership there decided that they weren't going to take the time to clean the airplanes; they're going to deliver them! And they delivered. I filed my complaint in January of 2017 with the FAA. And since then, the FAA has gone in and did a spot check. And they inspected ten airplanes in Charleston, and they found these metal shavings on all ten airplanes in both locations. And what they did was they issued a DAI, a designated airways inspection requirement to Boeing, and what that DAI does is, within the internal workings of Boeing, it tells them that they have to clean these planes before they can deliver them. But where they came up short, and I don't know if you caught it on the response that they did to the New York Times story, the FAA came back and said Boeing decided that those slivers weren’t a safety flight issue. And I don't understand how electronic equipment full of slivers, metal titanium slivers, all over the flight control wires, the electronic equipment, the power panels that actually run the full-powered airplane, I don't see how that cannot be a safety flight issue with metal shavings in there.


Ralph Nader: Well, tell us how many of these Dreamliners are up, and what routes do they usually fly?

John M. Barnett: So I'm not sure what the count is up to now. I know when I left, we were up to over 800 airplanes that had already been delivered. And they typically fly overseas. So they fly over the oceans, and the long routes to other countries.

Ralph Nader: And how many pilots?  

John M. Barnett: Two, I believe. I believe it takes two to fly the 787.

Ralph Nader: And were there any counterfeit parts, which are not Boeing's fault, they don't counterfeit parts, but there are reports over the years of counterfeit parts, for example, coming from East Asia, very, very facsimile similar. Were there any counterfeit parts that you discovered?

John M. Barnett: So actually, I was part of that back before when all this came up. I was actually working on receiving inspection at the time when all the counterfeit parts issue came up. And we put very specific safety catches in place to make sure that incoming parts were not counterfeit. Again, in Charleston, they’ve eliminated those. So we don't know for sure if there's counterfeit parts coming or not, to be honest with you. They bypassed those safety, or those quality check points.

Ralph Nader: Why weren't there FAA inspectors at the scene? This plant has 7,000 employees in North Charleston, South Carolina? Why was it just left up to you and others to make these discoveries? I think people think the FAA is the watchdog here.

John M. Barnett: Well, and that's another issue that really needs to be addressed, Ralph, because like I say, I've been working for Boeing for 32 years. And over the years, I've seen the FAA backing off on their oversight, and they’ve become more of a partnership than an oversight. And the FAA representatives there at Charleston, I actually worked real close with them. They were afraid of Boeing to find too many issues, because they would be transferred or kicked out of the Charleston plant. So there was a intimidation factor from Boeing to the FAA representatives at Charleston. They were afraid to make too many waves.

Ralph Nader: Like federal poultry and meat inspectors, that's the same problem they've had when they tried to be conscientious and do their job for the consumer. I want to ask you, when these charges come out from you, and after you set the standard of speaking out, I understand that there were other whistleblowing safety complaints filed with federal regulators by Boeing workers, does Boeing ever feel obliged to respond to these publicly?

John M. Barnett: So Ralph, their response is spun, you know. I mean, they have what they call spin doctors. They'll spin it to; we call it the Boeing switch. So if an employee raises a concern saying, as an example, if I raised a concern saying that people aren't buying off their job, or are not documenting defects, then Boeing turns it around and accuses me of not documenting defects. So the person that's complaining, they turn it around and point at them, and say they're the ones doing it wrong. So that's a big problem. So no, they're not willing to have a face-to-face discussion and discuss it. They just try to cover up, make it go away, and make the whistleblowers look bad.

Ralph Nader: John, do you ever find engineering professors who don't have to worry about Boeing paying them a salary who support you? Do you ever find anybody outside Boeing in the engineering and inspection profession taking the stand on your behalf?

John M. Barnett: Not personally, other than my legal counsel, which is excellent, but not really. I know that after the New York Times came out, I think it was CNN had some specialist on there, and they supported what I was saying that, you know, that the metal slivers could be catastrophic. And we haven't gotten into the oxygen systems where the emergency oxygen for passengers on a decompression event, I discovered that 25% of them do not work on the 787s.

Ralph Nader: Why don’t you repeat that, because people are told all the time when the oxygen drops, you know, put it on, every time you take a flight.

John M. Barnett: Put it on, right? And pull the cord.

Ralph Nader: So what you're saying is a quarter of them didn't work?

John M. Barnett: That's correct, yes, sir. A team and myself put together a control sample of over 300 of them, and out of those, 75 of them did not operate as required. They did not release the oxygen. I elevated this to my management. Again I was removed from the investigation. They turned it over to . . . I think it was a two-year employee within Boeing and they didn't do anything with it.


Ralph Nader: What did they do with the 800 Dreamliners that have these oxygen units?

John M. Barnett: They have done nothing to correct it. They've done nothing to identify the root cause. They have done nothing to correct the issue, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: And no airworthiness directive from the FAA, and no Boeing warning bulletin to their customers, the airlines?

John M. Barnett: That's correct, yes.

Ralph Nader: Now tell us if you think there's an increasing danger in air safety from over- automation -- from automating your type of job, all the way to the kind of automation that increased the likelihood that those Boeing MAXs would crash, the so-called "software fix" that took control of the plane away from the pilots. Some specialist I talked to called it the "silent hijacker," and pushed the planes down with 340 human beings into the Java Sea and Ethiopian farm area. Give us your take on this drive for automation which is, of course, to cut costs, and increase Boeing's bottom line, even though, and this was not brought out by the congressional hearing, John, Boeing has spent over 40 billion with a B dollars on stock buybacks to raise its stock, to increase the stock options of the compensation of Boeing's bosses. And as people are getting to know, stock buybacks don't create a single job. They don't build a single product. They're just there to increase the metrics for executive compensation. So here's Boeing cutting corners that affect the lives of people in the future in these planes and they are, in effect, burning tens of billions of dollars in stock buybacks.

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, that's inconceivable to me. I just . . . I can't wrap my head around it, because Boeing's number one priority should be the safety of the flying public. And the last six years that I worked with them, that is the last thing on their mind is the safety of the flying public, because it's just about checking airplanes out and making the cash register ring.

Ralph Nader: Well, they claimed they've had a great safety record, and automation will make it safety plus. Your response.

John M. Barnett: So, going back to my comment earlier, the rule of thumb in aircraft production is it takes 8 to 10 years for a defect to manifest into an issue. So if you look at the last 20 years, that safety record that Boeing is touting right now is built on the past quality of 747s, 767s, 777s. So the 787 has not been in service long enough to meet the quality level, or to prove that they're at the quality level that the other programs are at. So that's what Boeing is saying that they're at the highest quality level, or they’ve had an excellent safety record. But again, we're just now getting into that 8-10-year window, so.

Ralph Nader: You're pointing out something that needs elaboration. A lot of people have said that after the McDonnell-Douglas merger with Boeing, where the McDonnell-Douglas culture took over Boeing, Boeing moved from a prime engineering, high-reputation firm to a financial get-the-stock-up, stock-option-bonus firm, and degraded its engineering priorities. In fact, someone said about the MAX that the Boeing marketeers overruled the Boeing engineers. In your career, did you see that change firsthand?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, I did, unfortunately. It was probably about six months or nine months after the merger between Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas and we . . . within Boeing on a production floor had a little . . . and I guess you'd call a little funnier, a little joke to say, you know: Boeing didn't buy McDonnell-Douglas; McDonnell-Douglas bought Boeing with its own money. And what I saw was when the merger happened, they brought in the McDonnell-Douglas leadership to take over the Boeing company. And it was like a light switch. It went from quality, to all about shareholder value. It was just amazing. Looking back, it just is so clear that the direction of the company made a 180 turn at that point in time.

Ralph Nader: Well, how, as we conclude, and I want to get Steve and David in on this, but how are you holding up professionally and personally? I mean, they forced you into retirement.

John M. Barnett: Yes sir, they did. I'm not going to lie. It's been rough on me. It's been rough on my family. I'm still dealing with issues. I'm still having anxiety attacks, PTSD. It's been very rough. It's taken a serious mental and emotional toll on me. But, you know, I want to try very hard to keep the focus on the safety of the airplane. I mean, that's what my story is about, is telling my story enough to where the right people get involved to make sure that these airplanes are made correctly. Because the 787 carries 288 passengers plus crew. So the last thing I want to do is wake up in the morning and see a 787 that's going down because titanium slivers caught fire at 40,000 feet, or a defective part broke loose because it wasn’t built correctly, or they had a decompression event and people weren't able to get emergency oxygen. I mean, it's just, it keeps me up at night, Ralph. I just, I can't sleep. It's taken a heck of a toll on me.  

Ralph Nader: And for this level of professional concern, you got Boeing is trying to break you, discredit you, defame you, and probably blackball you from any future employment opportunities should you seek them.

John M. Barnett: Yes sir, actually that's already happened. I've been blocked. I was blacklisted. I was blocked from two different positions that I'm aware of that I can prove. There was probably others that I can't prove. And that's another thing, you know, when you're dealing with Boeing, you have to have it in documentation. because otherwise it's your word against theirs. and they're going to win every time. But I was able to keep my documentation.


Ralph Nader: You know I noticed that at the congressional hearings in the past few days, the Boeing CEO Muilenburg was very contrite and humble and he paid compassionate attention to the families holding up the pictures of their deceased relatives, but he knew, and the Boeing lobbyists behind him and the chairs knew, that they own the Congress. They give money to over 300 members of Congress. They're saying to Congress, "Where else is anybody going to go? You know, we're Boeing and Airbus, and you're not going to go after the only domestic manufacturer of big-body passenger jets." And it's really sickening to watch, because the questions coming in are tough within a narrow framework. They don't go into the fundamental design, although Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee laid out how much Muilenburg was being paid, and asked him why he didn't get a pay cut. He's been paid 30 million bucks even after the crashes, and he didn't ask for a pay cut. And he replied to Congressman Cohen, "Well, it's up to the board of directors." Well, he's the chairman of the board of directors. I calculated in the three hours I was sitting there listening to him, he made 45,000 bucks.

John M. Barnett: Wow. Unbelievable.

Ralph Nader: So we're dealing with corporate emperors who put on a show for the members of Congress, and they're humble, and they always address them as "congressmen" and "congresswomen," but they know who's in charge. And by trying to break you, they're trying to make you an example to anyone else at the Charleston plant. "Well, look what happened to John Barnett, you better shut up." But I'll tell you, if Boeing has to experience one or two more crashes due to Boeing faulty inspection, or Boeing negligent design, it's going to break Boeing, because it's no longer just two major companies, Airbus and Boeing, dominating the world. You've got now the Chinese, Brazilian, and Japanese about ready to offer competitive large-size passenger planes, number one. And number two, you may not know this, John, but in the 1950s, the British aerospace industry was one of the leaders in the world, and they produced a lane called the Comet Jet, and three of them crashed, and that was the end of the British aerospace industry leadership in the world. So beware, Boeing. The board of directors of Boeing and the CEO, digging in their heels on this Dreamliner mess, and the disasters with the MAX, have now a clear conflict of interest with the future well-being of Boeing and its workers, which is why the families have demanded that there be a mass resignation, as would have happened, by the way, in Japan right away.

John M. Barnett: Right, absolutely.

Ralph Nader: Yeah, they would have bowed and resigned. David, Steve, any final comments or questions?

John M. Barnett: If I could just touch on one thing . . .

Ralph Nader: Go ahead.

John M. Barnett: . . . you talked about the congressional hearing, and unfortunately I'm in the process of moving, and I was able to get bits and pieces of it. And I guess my point is, you know, I'd love to sit down with the CEO, and the decision makers of Boeing, and let them take my concerns seriously, and let's have a one-on-one discussion. I don't have a problem talking to any of them.

Ralph Nader: John, we're demanding at the committees that a technical specialist testify after Boeing, and not let Boeing get away with its stonewalling.

John M. Barnett: That's excellent, that's an excellent plan. Yes, sir.

Ralph Nader: And you will testify I assume.

John M. Barnett: Absolutely. But one of the things I've noticed Dennis Muilenburg keeps saying over and over is, "safety and quality is top priority." Well, as the quality manager, I have a performance ...or, I don't know if you're familiar with performance management reviews, but it's a yearly review where you sit down with your boss, and they review your work over the year, and they grade you on how well you did. And based on those reviews, it defines your future raises, your bonuses, your ability to participate in special leadership programs, that type of thing. During my performance review as a quality manager, I was penalized and basically received no raises. And he actually put this in writing, that I needed to learn to work in the gray areas of the procedures, that I was knowledgeable almost to a fault, that I needed to stop documenting quality issues and defects in email, you know. So I guess my question to Dennis is, you're sitting up here saying that safety and quality is top priority, but yet you have quality managers within your organization that are being penalized for following processes. So how does that make it top priority?

Ralph Nader: Which is exactly why you should testify before Congress.

John M. Barnett: I'm willing anytime, Ralph. I mean like I say, they've done their damage to me. You know, I was forced to retire and I will deal with what's ahead of me, but it really needs to be brought to light before we start losing the airplanes. And that's my top concern, is the safety of the flying public. As a quality manager, that's what I swore to protect, and I'm going to do everything I can to.  

Ralph Nader: And you put your entire career on the line.

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, I did. I was put in a position to where I had to choose between the company I love, and the job I love, and my career, versus the safety of the flying public. And I had to sacrifice those to protect the flying public, or at least try to.


Ralph Nader: Beautifully said. Steve and David?

David Feldman: Well, I certainly don't know how to top that. I'm kind of speechless, sir, at your courage, and completely appalled at the arrogance of Boeing. And boy, it just makes you want to have that whole company just crash.

John M. Barnett: There's some serious reckoning that needs to happen in there, you know, as far as following procedures and building the airplane correctly is for sure needs to . . . something needs to change before it's too late.

Ralph Nader: You know that Boeing is in trouble with their defense contracts, with NASA contracts. The contractors in NASA and Boeing in the Pentagon are fed up. They’ve often suspended the contracts that berated Boeing, so Boeing has a multi-faceted management problem, of great serious proportion.

John M. Barnett: Yes sir, you're correct. And I'm sure you all heard about the KC-46 the Air Force refused to take because they were finding so much FOD [Foreign Object Debris]. You know, that was just recently.  

Ralph Nader: That's right.

David Feldman: Where are the pilot's association, the stewardesses in all this?

John M. Barnett: Well, see, that's the thing ,is all of this is internal to Boeing. So, as an example, the slivers that I found, and the 25% failure rate of the emergency oxygen system, Boeing does not notify the customers that that's an issue. So they keep it under wraps internal to Boeing, and try to cover it up, or make it go away. So the pilots, the stewardesses, and customers don't know any of that.

Ralph Nader: Well, we're out of time, John M. Barnett, and congratulations on your Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage. I'm sure you get other awards, too. We hope to see you before Congress to react to Boeing's testimony, and full speed ahead for you in the coming months and years. Thank you.

John M. Barnett: Thank you, Mr. Nader. It's a pleasure talking to you. And I look forward to meeting you very soon.

Ralph Nader: Certainly.
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