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posted by hubie on Friday July 05, @09:16AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Nineteen years and a whole bunch of controversy later, Boeing has decided to reacquire Spirit AeroSystems, maker of parts including the door plug included in select Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft. 

Spirit, which manufactures plane parts like fuselages, wings, and other components for both Boeing and Airbus, is being reacquired for $4.7 billion, with a total transaction value of $8.3 billion once Spirit's debt is added to the mix. Spirit was originally spun off from Boeing in 2005 for what Spirit spokesperson Joe Buccino confirmed was a cost-saving measure. 

"By reintegrating Spirit, we can fully align our commercial production systems, including our Safety and Quality Management Systems, and our workforce to the same priorities, incentives and outcomes – centered on safety and quality," outgoing Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said of the deal.

[...] Boeing has been having quality control issues for several years, some of which have been allegedly linked to issues at Spirit.

Spirit was also hit by the 2018 and 2019 fatal crashes of a pair of Boeing 737 Max aircraft. The company was manufacturing the aircraft at the time and was heavily affected by the nearly two-year grounding of the aircraft after the crashes, which have largely been blamed on faulty software.

The DoJ is reportedly seeking a guilty plea from Boeing on criminal charges related to those two Max crashes that killed 346 people and, if it doesn't get it, intends to take the company to trial.

[...] That plea – or a conviction in court – could have serious implications for Boeing's future. Several agencies the company does business with, including the DoD and NASA, have rules in place barring them from signing contracts with companies convicted of a felony.

A number of whistleblowers – employees at both Boeing and Spirit – have come forward in the years since the crashes, and the rate of damning reports only increased after the door plug blowout.

Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour said in April that Boeing 787 aircraft contained hairline gaps in the fuselage that could cause a structural failure, and former Boeing manager Merle Meyers came forward later that month to report years of declining quality as company leaders shifted their priorities from quality to speed and profitability.

Another Boeing whistleblower was found dead in March, and in May a former quality manager at Spirit came forward to allege quality issues in nearly every job the company did.

"It was very rare for us to look at a job and not find any defects," Santiago Paredes recently told CBS. "If quality mattered, I would still be at Spirit."

Spirit has also entered into a definitive agreement with Airbus to hand related segments off to that company, for which Airbus will be paid $559 million. 

Boeing didn't respond to questions for this story.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Friday July 05, @11:31AM (7 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 05, @11:31AM (#1363159) Journal

    The reaquisition will not solve any problems for Boeing.

    Boeing needs the same sort of treatment we suffered a few years back. Headhunters were hired to streamline the operation. It was expected they would tell corporate to chop a bunch of laborers and technicians. Ultimately, the headhunters pointed at management, and told Corporate to eliminate positions, and/or, in a few cases, get rid of the manager, to replace him/her with someone more qualified. Boeing's shakeup needs to be at the highest levels, including boardroom douches, right on down to senior engineering positions.

    That story about rejected parts disappearing from storage, to reappear later in aircraft sold to airlines demonstrates that no one in management is actually managing anything. [] No laborer, or tech, or engineer, or even junior manager made the decision to use those parts. Only top management within the plant could have made such a decision. And, those managers almost certainly had the tacit approval of corporate management.

    We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Friday July 05, @12:26PM (5 children)

      by RS3 (6367) on Friday July 05, @12:26PM (#1363168)

      Not disagreeing with you, but from direct experience: overall company culture, atmosphere, management style, etc., affects worker morale. Right now I'm working at a company where we make high-end communications equipment, much for the military. I'm super happy to say that everyone has a very good attitude toward doing things to the highest of quality standards. There's much cross-checking, inspection, testing, etc. (I'm hoping to encourage / implement a better learning system, rather than the talking behind someone's back, pulling them off of certain tasks, etc.)

      But I've worked in other situations where worker morale was low, " 'can't see it from my house", "who cares", etc., and far too often there's been no cross-checking, so things are done slipshod or worse. Point is: management had no clue that the workers were disgruntled and doing crap work. Many of the hands-on people are much more aware of big-picture company management, business, market, etc. They often generally have grudges against upper management / engineering / "white collar" workers. Sometimes I wonder if they're psychologically "getting back at" upper management when they do something wrong, either intentionally or just inattentively negligent.

      In construction world, I know that much / most of my work was not inspected, even when it was required, including specifically electrical work (wiring). Someone did forms and paperwork, but not everything was inspected. I care, and do things well and correctly, but not everyone does, and nobody's perfect.

      I don't know much about Boeing internals, but it just seems like they don't have a system of strong quality control, with the right people and culture of cross-checking, inspection, etc. Always have at least two people working directly on one task- cross-checking each other. But very importantly: a culture of wanting to do things right, not the "aaah, it's good enough" thing that many obviously have fallen into.

      Ultimately I think the problem is monopoly. Monopoly could work but in Boeing's case, FAA would have to become very different, very proactive. Not the speed-trap cop types, but more the encouraging quality control / learning / improvement attitude. IE: rout out Boeing and FAA management.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Friday July 05, @01:19PM (4 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 05, @01:19PM (#1363173) Journal

        Point is: management had no clue that the workers were disgruntled and doing crap work.

        I would counter that management was an utter failure then. They were managing something in their imaginations, or on paper, but they weren't out on the floor, among the ranks, actually managing the real life operation. Management requires that you understand your people, and communicate with them. This is one of the consequences of management consisting of a clique of Ivy League college grads who won't mingle with the working class.

        We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Friday July 05, @05:08PM (1 child)

          by Thexalon (636) on Friday July 05, @05:08PM (#1363193)

          This is a phenomenon that happens to pretty much all large organizations:
          1. Top-notch product skills lead to one or more awesome products at reasonable prices. They attracts a lot of customers. The company grows, good products go out to the world, life is good.
          2. Because of step 1, the company hires a bunch of people. Soon, they reach a point where the top product people can't personally supervise everyone in the way you're talking about. So they have to delegate it. This pulls them off the shop floor.
          3. The people with the product skills eventually decide that what they want to delegate isn't the shop floor activities, but the management activities that they never really liked, because their passion was always making something cool, not spreadsheets and quarterly reports to shareholders. Either that, or they want to get out entirely and just enjoy an early retirement. So they hire some MBA types to run things.
          4. The MBA types immediately work to push out the any product people that might still get listened to. Why? Because the top product people are the fastest to see through MBA BS.
          5. Then the MBAs start managing to the imaginations and on-paper reality, and the real production slowly gets worse and worse as the people who care about making a good product either retire or get fed up and leave. Sooner or later, the company becomes a husk of its former self, churning out crappy products that still get takers due to the reputation from step 1 when they really shouldn't.

          You can see this pattern in the corporate histories of Apple, HP, Ford, Google, and many other big name brands.

          The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
          • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 06, @03:39AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 06, @03:39AM (#1363263)
            If an organization/organism lives for long enough, it will eventually acquire parasites.

            If it has no effective way of getting rid of parasites, the parasites may accumulate till the organization/organism dies.
        • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Friday July 05, @05:53PM

          by aafcac (17646) on Friday July 05, @05:53PM (#1363196)

          That's been known for many years. I don't even work at Boeing, but I do live in a region where they have a large presence. Ever since they moved to Chicago to be closer to the stock exchange and further away from the production centers, the quality has been slipping. When they moved significant production to the Carolinas in order to union bust it got worse. For a while, they were giving performance bonuses to the folks working there, even though there were massive problems that had to be fixed in WA. The most recent I remember was when they started to force the engineers to move if they wanted to keep their jobs.

          The company has been an absolute mess and one of the reasons why that merger with McDonnell Douglas shouldn't have been allowed.

        • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Friday July 05, @11:38PM

          by RS3 (6367) on Friday July 05, @11:38PM (#1363227)

          Not a counter- exactly what I was saying, and thanks.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by Rich on Friday July 05, @03:04PM

      by Rich (945) on Friday July 05, @03:04PM (#1363181) Journal

      Well, headhunters have management transfers to sell. That was to be expected. To get the justification to further squeeze out the shop floor staff with a more brutal regime, one would hire a management consultancy. Was the management so incompetent that they couldn't tell the difference?

  • (Score: 4, Touché) by https on Friday July 05, @05:06PM (1 child)

    by https (5248) on Friday July 05, @05:06PM (#1363191) Journal

    All falsified records get to remain in-house, much easier to keep track of.

    Offended and laughing about it.
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 06, @01:56AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 06, @01:56AM (#1363251)

      Not to mention that re-consolidating systems is an excellent time to lose any inconvenient documentation that happens to be laying around. For both companies.