Whistle-blown into nothingness: The Boeing story

14 Oct 2013

Julian Assange of Wikileaks has become a cult figure. Not much was known about this founder of a whistle blowing web site until recently when he published what most governments around the world would not have us, ordinary people, read. On South Africa?s Reconciliation Day, 16 December 2010, Al Jazeera, an international news channel, blew a second whistle on Boeing. I call this a ?second whistle? because two former employees (let us call them Mr and Mrs Jones) of Boeing had earlier blown a whistle that warned the American government against substandard manufacturing and procurement processes employed by Boeing. These whistle blowers warned that Boeing 737 NG was pretty much a death trap for passengers. Boeing's 737NG is flown by more than 150 airlines worldwide. As procurement and safety officers respectively, Mr. & Mrs. Jones discovered flaws in the production and manufacturing processes of key structural parts for many of Boeing 737NG?s. Al Jazeera (2010) reported that Mr and Mrs Jones told the United States (US) Department of Justice in a detailed written report that the parts - made by a sub-contractor for Boeing between 1996 and 2004 - were ill-fitting and illegal, but that Boeing used many of them to build the aircraft. Aviation experts working with these whistle blowers confirmed in a television program that the problem with these parts could lead to a ?catastrophic failure? of aircraft fitted with them. While Boeing dismissed these allegations as lacking merit, the American Federal Aviation Administration ? which regulates the US aircraft industry - backed Boeing (Al Jazeera, 2010). Interestingly, Ducommun Technologies, an aviation services organization backed the whistle blowers. In 2005, when it became clear that there was no urgency on the part of the US Department of Justice to respond to their report, they (Mr & Mrs Jones) went to court. To date, the US government has failed to respond seriously to the issues raised.