Former Dreamliner Safety Engineer: I don’t feel safe flying on the 787

I don't feel safe flying on the 787.

Former Dreamliner Safety Engineer:  I don’t feel safe flying on the 787

I don’t feel safe flying on the 787. Given what I’ve seen, working at the South Carolina Boeing plant, doing structural repairs for the Boeing 787, I definitely would be concerned about flying on it myself.

These are the words of former Boeing Manufacturing Engineer John Woods in an interview with Al Jazeera.

In September 2009, Boeing hired John Woods for its 787 “Dreamliner” factory in Charleston, South Carolina.

Just over a year later, Boeing fired him. The company said he was working too slowly.

Woods said he was fired for raising safety concerns. He filed a whistleblower complaint with the US aviation safety regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), alleging seven serious violations. The FAA substantiated only one of the seven: that Boeing used “inadequate manufacturing planning documents that lacked revision control and were missing inspection steps”.

Woods also appealed to Boeing’s Ethics Department, claiming he was being harassed. After 91 days, Boeing rejected his complaint. The Labor Court upheld the company.

A worker has 90 days from the point at which they believe they have been retaliated against to make a complaint with the Department of Labor. For Woods, because he had waited for Boeing’s Ethics Department, he could not turn to the Department of Labor.

At the time he was hired, Woods had declared to Boeing that he had psychiatric conditions: Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and mild depression.

The words below are taken from an interview recorded with Mr Woods in 2014.

Working for Boeing

I was very proud to be working at Boeing, the biggest and best commercial aircraft manufacturer in the world and to have the opportunity to work on the first all-composite fuselage for a commercial aircraft. I drank the Boeing Kool-Aid. I was thrilled to be there. Every time the store came around, I bought all my souvenirs.

I was hired to focus on repair of the carbon epoxy material whenever it’s damaged or whenever there’s a manufacturing defect. If there’s damage, we have to remove the material and replace the material to the point where it’s at least as strong as its original design. I was the first manufacturing engineer that was to be dedicated to that position.

I would write the work instructions for the technicians on the floor to how to do the repair.

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