Boeing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Transcript

Main segment: Boeing. Other segments: Presidential immunity in the United States, Mitch McConnell steps down as head of the Senate Republican Conference

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 11 Episode 3
Aired on March 3, 2024

Main segment: Boeing
Other segments: Presidential immunity in the United States, Mitch McConnell steps down as head of the Senate Republican Conference

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♪ ♪ [Cheers and applause]

John: Welcome, welcome, welcome to “Last Week Tonight!” I’m John Oliver, thanks for joining us. It’s been a busy week, mitch mcconnell announced he’d be stepping down as republican senate leader, there was a Willy Wonka fiasco in Scotland that answered the question “what if you asked ChatGPT to plan a pop-up event for kids, then shut your laptop and walked into the ocean?” And Joe Biden announced hopes for an imminent ceasefire in Gaza, while housing an ice cream, next to Seth Meyers. And I hope there’s a ceasefire, but the lack of urgency from the US regarding one has been shameful — especially as just this week, more than 100 people were killed after Israeli forces opened fire on a crowd waiting to get aid from a convoy. And a State Department spokesperson tried to justify America’s reluctance to stand up to Israel, before being spectacularly corrected by an AP reporter.

United States does not dictate to Israel what it must do just as we don’t dictate to any country what it must do. We present what we believe are the —

Unless you invade them.

We present what we believe are the — good one, Matt. No, I mean — but come on.

John: Wow, that’s brutal. And I so badly want that reporter fact-checking every press briefing from now on. “Listen, we’d never support settling in someone else’s homeland –” “unless they’re native american!” “Yes, right, right. And we’d never bomb innocent civilians –” “unless it’s by drone!” “Fair point. But we’d never destroy their villages –” “unless they’re Vietnamese!” “Aw, c’mon, Matt. C’mon.” But we’re going to turn to the Supreme Court, which on Wednesday made a big decision.

Tonight, the Supreme Court says it will take up former president Donald Trump’s claim of absolute presidential immunity, as he faces criminal charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The court now taking on a monumental unanswered question: can a former president be criminally prosecuted for actions taken while in office?

John: It’s an interesting question and, real quick: yes. Yes, a former president can be criminally prosecuted for actions taken in office. It’s one of those questions to which the answer should be obvious, like “did robert durst kill those people,” or “which cereal mascot fucks the most,” or “who should play the next Batman?” And for the record, the answers are: absolutely — it’s not even close — and Natasha Lyonne. And when this case was before the DC circuit court, one exchange with a trump lawyer illustrated just how absurd Trump’s position is, as a judge posed this wild hypothetical.

Could a president who ordered s.e.a.l. Team 6 to assassinate a political rival, who was not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?

If he were impeached and convicted first

John: Wow. Only under those conditions? It really feels like the answer to “can the president kill a guy” shouldn’t be, “no, unless half the people in Congress think the other guy had it coming.” But no matter what the court decides, the very fact they’re taking this case up at all is meaningful.

The delay is already something of a trump victory, raising the real possibility that the trial could be pushed back until after the presidential election.

John: Right. And if Trump wins that election, who knows what happens then? I mean, fingers crossed the sun explodes, but that’s an outside chance. So it seems like consequences for the insurrection could be yet another thing Trump tries to kick down the road, ignoring it and hoping it goes away, like his various debts, multiple court cases, and acknowledging any of his children’s birthdays. Though I will say — fun fact? This one’s birthday? January 6th. It’s true, and a wonderful reminder that Trump’s the only politician in DC during the riot who considers that to be the second worst thing to happen to him on January 6th. And on top of all this, the Supreme Court has a pretty glaring conflict of interest here. Specifically, this conflict of interest. Because Clarence Thomas doesn’t seem to have recused himself from this case, despite — as we’ve mentioned before — his wife supporting Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. So, Thomas is in a difficult ethical situation here, and it feels important to remind him: there is a way out. A smooth, spacious, luxurious way out that comes with plenty of gas money. But the window to take our offer closes in two weeks, Clarence! So please, do get in touch! I’ve got a contract with both of our names on it right here! Tick tock and more importantly — [horn] exactly.


John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns airplanes. The place you go to say “I’ll get some reading done!” Before watching 9 episodes of “The Office” you’ve already seen and landing in Tucson. Planes make many of us nervous, even though commercial air travel is the safest form of mass transportation. But accidents do happen. And there was one recently that got a lot of attention.

Passengers are sharing their terrifying experience on board an Alaska Airlines plane that lost a door plug during flight. What was supposed to be a short trip from Portland to Ontario, California for Garrett Cunningham turned out to be one of the most frightening experiences of his life.

A gush of — of air — I look to my left, and part of the plane is gone. My brain couldn’t compute what I was looking at.

John: Yeah, of course it couldn’t. Our minds filter out things that shouldn’t make sense. Mine, for instance, refuses to acknowledge that tomatoes are fruits, or that the shoebill isn’t extinct. Does that really look like something that should exist at the same time as the iPad? I think not. Thankfully, that flight landed safely with only a few injuries but experts say that was mostly luck. For one thing, if someone had been sitting in the window seat, with their seatbelt off, they could’ve been sucked out of the plane. And, second, this happened just after takeoff, but if they’d been at cruising altitude, injuries might’ve been catastrophic. And that plane was almost new. It had been delivered by the manufacturer, Boeing, around two months earlier. And that’s too soon for a sneaker to fall apart let alone a multi-million dollar aircraft. Now: Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, was quick to take responsibility, saying Boeing is accountable — but when pressed on exactly what had taken place, had an odd response.

How did an unsafe airplane fly in the first place?

Because a quality escape occurred. Because a quality escape occurred.

Can you explain what that means? What is a quality escape?

I think that’s the description of what people are finding in their inspections. Anything that could potentially contribute to an accident.

John: What? Quality didn’t escape: a part of the plane did. That’s a terrible answer. When you’re asked how an unsafe plane flew in the first place, we need more information than, essentially, “the plane was unsafe.” Yeah, everyone knows that! There’s a fucking hole in the side. And the exact nature of the “escape” is pretty alarming, given that, according to the preliminary investigation, four bolts that were supposed to keep the door plug in place were missing. And when Alaska checked their other max-9 planes, they found loose bolts on many of them. The next day, the FAA announced that every Boeing 737-9 max with a plug door would be grounded, until they were inspected. Which is a relief and, honestly, kind of a fun image. I like to imagine stern FAA inspectors going up to each plane and saying “you are grounded, missy! No in-flight tv for a month!” And yes, planes are girls. Think about it: they always have snacks and constantly say “leaving right now!” And then don’t move for another 15 minutes. Case closed. It’s beginning to feel like this might be a much broader issue within Boeing. Because it comes on the heels of a years-long string of alarming incidents — from fires on board to a and just this week, the faa to a pair of massive crashes that were blamed on flawed Boeing planes, and just this week, the faa issued a stunning order to the company.

The Federal Aviation Administration gave Boeing 90 days now to come up with a plan to address safety issues. This comes after a report released on Monday found employees did not understand their role in safety, and they feared retaliation for raising safety-related concerns. Uh, those are big problems when you’ve got a factory that is making jets.

John: Yeah, of course! Although honestly, workers being unable to raise safety concerns is a big problem in a factory that makes anything! No one wants grocery stores selling “cap’n crunch oops, all rat poison.” And all of this is striking, for a company that used to be seen as one of the greatest in America, and that’s still the country’s largest exporter. So if a company this big and this important seems to be this troubled, tonight, let’s talk about Boeing. And let’s start with the fact that Boeing used to be synonymous with quality and craftsmanship. It’s was founded by William Boeing in 1916, and over the years, it built nearly 100,000 planes for the allied forces, the first stage of the Saturn v rocket, and Air Force One. But they’re best known for revolutionizing commercial aviation. In 1967, Boeing introduced the 737, and have made over 10,000 of them since. And the company’s success rests heavily on its well-earned reputation for excellence — like in this video from an annual shareholder meeting.

The first step in making a difference is believing you can.

We make the impossible happen on a regular basis so it can be done, you just have to think of a new way to do it.

Let’s just do it right. Whatever it is, quality, safety, environment, do it right and make it something that you can be proud of.

I wanted to develop product that had a global reach and a global impact. And I’m doing it now.

John: That sounds pretty good! “We do the impossible” great! Love the impossible. “Let’s just do it right!” Yes! Let’s! Wrong feels like a bad way to do it! “I wanted to develop a globally impactful product and I did!” Good for you! You’re a little too close to the camera, but in general, I’m on board! In fact, Boeing had such a great reputation for safety among pilots, there was even a common saying: “if it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going,” which the company put on t-shirts, lanyards, and mugs that you can still buy on their website — all perfect gifts for someone who loves branded merch and does not love following the news. That stellar reputation has been credited to the company’s engineer-centered open culture. William Boeing himself once said, after noticing some shoddy workmanship on his production line, that he would “close up shop rather than send out work of this kind.” And one project leader in the ’80s and early ’90s is remembered for saying “no secrets,” and “the only thing that will make me rip off your head and shit down your neck is withholding information.” And I’m sorry — that should be the mug. You want to shift merch? That’s how you do it. But it’s pretty clear that we’re a long way from that culture today. And most observers will trace the shift back to this pivotal event.

A major announcement today in the world of aviation: Boeing and McDonnell Douglas today announced that they would join together to form the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer.

This is, I believe, an historic moment in aviation and aerospace.

John: Yeah, the sky boys got business married! Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas, who were primarily known for military planes, and had a lousy reputation for commercial airliners — most notably the DC10, which had multiple accidents resulting in over 1,100 passenger fatalities. And look — was merging with the McDonnell Douglas areospace manufacturing corporation/murder emporium that Boeing CEO’s worst decision? Probably not, because he also — and this is true — married his first cousin, so the last decision I’d ask this guy to make is who it’s a good idea to couple up with. And while Boeing was the acquirer in the partnership, it soon became clear that the McDonnell Douglas culture — which was much more cutthroat and profit-driven — was going to become dominant. Early on, the McDonnell Douglas management team even gave their Boeing counterparts a plaque featuring an Economist magazine cover about the challenges of corporate mergers. Which sounds benign until you see that the actual cover was this picture of two camels fucking, and McDonnell Douglas execs added the line “who’s on top?” And setting aside the weirdness of gifting your coworkers camel porn, it begs the question: what was going on at “the economist” back then? Spare a thought for the employee who dreamt of doing business journalism, only to find themselves digging through photos of horned-up camel sluts banging in the dirt. A year after the merger was finalized, Boeing announced a new stock buyback program, taking company money that could have gone to making planes and using it to inflate stock prices instead. And even mechanics at the company noticed the culture shift.

There was a major campaign launched called Share Value, and the idea was that they wanted everybody to be aware of the stock price, and they wanted everybody working together to increase the stock value. Even the technical meetings, everything revolved around Boeing stock prices.

John: That’s not reassuring, because that’s not where you want their priorities focused. No one wants to get on a plane and hear, “good afternoon, this is your captain speaking, we had a few technical problems but our maintenance crew’s assured us that the stock price is still holding strong, so let’s get this big metal tube full of you and your loved ones up in the sky, shall we?” And the culture change was solidified by the decision to relocate the corporate headquarters from Seattle — where the planes were actually designed and built — 2,000 miles away to Chicago. Because, as their CEO put it “when the headquarters is located in proximity to a principal business… The corporate center is inevitably drawn into day-to-day business operations.” And yeah! You should be! You’re essentially saying, “hey, we’re going to be making big business decisions over here, we don’t need to be bothered with you nerds and your ‘keeping planes in the air’ bullshit.” Now, CEO Phil Condit soon left the company amid a contracting scandal, and was replaced by Harry Stonecipher, the former CEO of McDonnell Douglas. He was an aggressive cost cutter who pushed Boeing’s management to play tougher with its workforce, and to introduce the slogan, “less family, more team.” Which, frankly, would have been great advice for Phil Condit while he was choosing a romantic partner. “Less family, Phil. You want to be a team. But, like, not one that’s related by blood.” But the problems with the whole “stock price-first” approach soon became apparent during the production of the 787 Dreamliner. It was a new, lighter plane Boeing announced in 2004, but Stonecipher drastically cut the R&D budget — you know, the money for “creating the plane” — even as the company authorized large stock buybacks and dividends for investors. Under his plans, the Dreamliner would be developed for less than half of what their previous new plane had cost. Boeing also sought savings by outsourcing production to about 50 suppliers, each of whom was responsible for managing its own subcontractors. So basically, the plan was for Boeing to “create” the plane the same way someone “creates” a gingerbread house from a kit: essentially assembling a bunch of pieces other people made, leading to a finished product that, structurally-speaking, was always going to be a fucking mess. And years later, Boeing itself produced a promotional video that admitted that plan was a fiasco.

Executing a project of such complexity proved to be more than some suppliers could handle. Wrinkles were found in the composite skins from one supplier. Fasteners were incorrectly secured on sections of the tail. There were gaps between units that were supposed to fit tightly together.

We had our partners, and then they had partners who had partners, and the different cultures, and the communication was very challenging and added a lot of complexity.

John: You know, it’s never a great sign when you’re talking about the manufacturing process for a plane the same way a doomed open throuple talks about their private life: we had our partners, and then they had partners who had partners, and communication was very challenging and added a lot of complexity, and long story short, now we all have chlamydia.” And on top of that, Stonecipher was forced to resign, in the wake of an affair with a Boeing vp, and was replaced by the company’s third CEO in as many years, Jim McNerney who — if anything — accelerated the cost-cutting. But despite all the setbacks from outsourcing, Boeing managed to roll out the Dreamliner on time in an elaborate ceremony in 2007 — except there was one small catch.

We were all inside the factory with artificial lighting, big stage, tom brokaw, huge screens. Then they opened the doors of this giant assembly bay, and in rolls this beautiful, beautiful aircraft.

We learned that the whole thing was a sham.

Beautiful, isn’t it? Absolutely beautiful.

I realized the doors were made of plywood.

This plane that we were admiring was completely a shell inside.

What I realized walking around it is that you could, you know, look up in the wheel well and you could see daylight.

John: Wow, what a historic moment! Exciting to see the unveiling of the first airplane made entirely out of plywood and lies! The plane was supposed to take its first test flight within two months of that launch, but unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen. In fact, the Dreamliner didn’t carry commercial passengers for years, finally delivering planes three years late, and $25 billion over budget. And almost immediately, there were problems. Multiple planes had fires on board, including two in Boston and Japan within nine days of each other, which investigations linked to a defective battery, made by a subcontractor that Boeing had never audited. So the FAA grounded the Dreamliner — the first time it had grounded an airplane model since the McDonnell Douglas DC10 in 1979 — again, making in 1979 — again, making pretty clear that the wrong attitudes had prevailed after the merger. Basically, the wrong camel came out on top. Investigations revealed that people building the Dreamliner were worried about its safety. In 2014, Al Jazeera released hidden camera footage of a worker at a Dreamliner plant, asking fellow employees a pretty pointed question.

Would you fly on one?

Um, no.

You won’t fly on one?


Would you fly on one of these planes?

I thought about it, I thought about it, no, not really.

Would you fly on one of these [bleep]?

Probably not.

I wouldn’t fly on one of these planes.

You wouldn’t? Why wouldn’t you?


Why wouldn’t ya?

Because I see the quality of the [bleep] going down around here.

Would you fly on one of these?

Yeah, but it’s sketchy.


Yeah, I probably would, but I have kind of a death wish too. Smack [laughs]

John: Yeah. Out of 15 workers he asked, 10 said they wouldn’t fly on that plane. And honestly, that last guy’s almost worse. Because if I had to pick between plane that two-thirds of workers refused to get on, and one that would only be ridden by Death Wish Dave, I’d pick the former every time. But, while the Dreamliner had its problems, at least it never had a fatal accident. But that can’t be said for Boeing’s next plane, the 737 Max. In 2011, as Boeing was rolling out the Dreamliner, its main competitor, airbus, was unveiling the a320neo, a fuel-efficient update of their already popular a320 planes, which was a wild success. Boeing, caught completely off-guard, quickly announced a new fuel-efficient plane it hadn’t even engineered yet, the 737 Max. And they wanted to get it out the door as quickly, and as cheaply, as possible. Mcnerney even had a catchphrase, “more for less,” which became the company’s driving theme as it embarked on the max. And all the while, McNerney and his successor as CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, signed off, yet again, on massive stock buybacks. From 2014 to 2018, Boeing diverted 92% of its operating cash flow to dividends and share buybacks to benefit investors, far exceeding the money it spent on R&D for new planes. Workers on the production line for the max described a process that valued speed over safety. And one, a military veteran, worried that corners were being cut.

What words would you use to describe that factory at that point?

Dangerous. Um, taking unnecessary risks.

He says he urged the Boeing manager to shut down the factory for a few weeks to straighten things out. And what was his reaction to that?

He said, you know, “we can’t shut down” and then I got mad and said “you know, I’ve seen military operations shut down for a lot less.”

What was his reply to that?

Something I’ll never forget. He said — he said, “well, military is not a profit-making organization.”

John: Wow. What a response! In a way, you’re right: the military isn’t profit driven — but they do have, pretty famously, a high appetite for death and destruction. Someone who work there is going “slow down a bit,” that seems like something that should give you pause. So, the max was rushed through design and production, and with tragic consequences. On October 29, 2018 a Lion Air flight bound for Indonesia carrying 189 people including three children disappeared from radar just minutes after takeoff and was found to have crashed into the water. No one on board survived. Investigations later revealed that the plane’s safety had been compromised by a series of shortsighted decisions Boeing had made. Starting with the fact that, to save money and reduce regulatory scrutiny, Boeing had decided it wasn’t going to build a new plane, it was just going to rapidly modify its existing 737 model, giving it new, much bigger engines. But that brought some significant complications.

Because these engines are bigger, they had to be positioned further forward and higher up on the wings. And so, Boeing was worried about the plane getting into too much of a nose up, and then the plane could stall. So, if it starts to pitch up, mcas was designed to help the pilot level the plane out.

John: Yeah, they added a system called mcas, or “maneuvering characteristics augmentation system.” Very basically, when the plane came close to a situation in which it might stall, MCAS would — in technical terms — swivel the horizontal tail fin to lift the tail up and push the nose down. Or in non-technical terms: make the plane go face down, ass up. But there was a fatal flaw: mcas — which, again, could push a plane’s nose down on its own — could be activated by a single sensor.

The angle of attack sensors protrude out on either side of the fuselage near the cockpit. If a “happy birthday” mylar balloon gets stuck on that vane, it becomes unreliable. Believe it or not, we hit balloons. We hit birds. And all of these things are not uncommon.

John: It’s true. The whole system could be compromised by a balloon — a testament to how problematic it is to use a single sensor. And yet another reason to hate balloons: they’re exhausting to inflate, they scare the shit out of you when they pop, and uninflated, they just look like a pile of clown condoms. Balloons are terrible. But it gets worse. Boeing didn’t tell pilots about MCAS. Because, remember: they had decided to market the plane to airlines as a money-saver. And a massive selling point was that the max wouldn’t require pilots to be re-trained in a flight simulator. That’s a pretty big expense for an airline, as it takes pilots out of the air for multiple days. Boeing was worried that, if they emphasized MCAS as something new, it might require more training. So it told airlines and regulators that the max was so similar to the old 737, simulator training wouldn’t be necessary. And that’s something even the mother of one of the Lion Air pilots whose flight crashed thought was a bit weird at the time.

I said, “you haven’t had a simulator training. How can you go for Max? It is a more powerful engine. So, without a simulator, how will you manage?” He said, “mom, I’ve been given ground training. They have given me a training on iPad.” I said, “what, an iPad?”

John: Wow. That’s wild. It’s bad enough that iPads are replacing half the staff at Panera bread, it’s worse when they’re replacing practical training for dangerous jobs. Boeing gave pilots a two-hour iPad training course that never once mentioned MCAS. What’s more, it wasn’t in the manual at all, unless you count the glossary which defined the term but didn’t explain what it did. And it turned out that a faulty MCAS activation was what had doomed that Lion Air flight. And when American Airlines pilots met with Boeing executives after the crash, and angrily pointed out no one had been told about mcas, the answer they got was ridiculous.

These guys didn’t even know the damn system was on the airplane, nor did anybody else.

We try not to overload the crews with information that’s unnecessary.

I would think that there would be a priority on putting things — explanations of things that could kill you.

John: Exactly! How is information about a system that could crash the plane unnecessary? It’s not “all fruit loops are the same flavor,” or “identical twins don’t have the same fingerprints,” or “if you give a mirror to a dolphin, they’ll admire their own genitals.” All of that’s good, but all of that is good information, but unnecessary for pilot to know. But “hey we put some software on the plane that might try and murder you” feels important. In the aftermath of the crash, Boeing told U.S. Airline pilots that they’d have a software fix for MCAS ready within about six weeks, and the max was allowed to keep flying. But, they didn’t. The only thing they accomplished in those six weeks were — you’re never going to believe this — authorizing a record $20 billion of stock buybacks. So clearly, they were concerned about safety. Specifically, the safety of their fucking stock price. And so, a little over four months after the crash, while Boeing was still working on its six-week “software fix,” Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, a 737 max jet, crashed, after MCAS activated erroneously again, killing everyone on board. And by that point, those pilots knew what mcas was. But they still weren’t able to correct its erroneous activation in time. Three days later, the FAA finally grounded the max, but only after all these countries had first. It was grounded for almost two years, until Boeing developed ways to make MCAS less error-prone and easier to override. And a damning congressional investigation later revealed internal messages showing that Boeing knew how dangerous mcas was throughout the plane’s development. In 2012, one of Boeing’s own test pilots had failed to recover from mcas activating in a flight simulator, a situation he described as “catastrophic.” And some of the messages between Boeing employees are damning.

Hundreds of emails and instant messages show employees mocking the FAA, the company, and problems with the airplane. One writing, “this airplane is designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

John: That’s pretty bad! Though I kind of wish he’d kept going: “they’re designed by clowns, who are supervised by monkeys, who report to caffeinated toddlers, who are overseen by a bunch of floppy puppies, who are monitored by a wasted bachelorette party, whose boss is just a large inflatable tube man.” So, at this point, you might reasonably be asking “where the fuck are the regulators? Shouldn’t the FAA have caught this before people died?” And given that the answer is definitely yes, what happened? Well, the agency relied heavily on Boeing employees to vouch for the Max’s safety, because they lacked the ability to effectively analyze much of what Boeing shared about their new plane. One employee even said he thought a presentation for regulators was “like dogs watching TV,” because they didn’t understand what they were seeing. And I really hope that’s not true. I hope dogs understand what they’re watching on TV. Otherwise, I did those deep dives on “squirrels!” “Breathing out of a fucked up little nose” and “poodle anuses” for no reason at all. And incredibly, much of the oversight was being done by Boeing itself.

For five decades, manufacturers like Boeing were allowed to use what they call FAA-designated inspectors, first to certify that the planes were airworthy in the beginning, and then on the assembly line to inspect each plane as it went down the line. Here’s the problem: those FAA inspectors were employed by Boeing. There’s a conflict of interest there.

John: Of course there is! Boeing was paying Boeing employees to regulate Boeing. It’s the most incestuous relationship we’ve seen in this story so far, which is saying something because, remember, this guy was fucking his first cousin. And while this system of self-regulation has been in place for decades, it was supercharged from 2005 onwards, after Boeing successfully lobbied to reduce government oversight of airplane designs, basically allowing it to regulate itself even more. And unsurprisingly, several of these Boeing-employed “representatives of the FAA” have said they faced heavy pressure from managers to limit safety analysis and testing so the company could meet its schedule and keep down costs. At every point along the way, the FAA either delegated responsibility to Boeing, or gave them the benefit of the doubt. Which hopefully they will never do again. Because Boeing — like so many American companies — seems to be coasting on a reputation it built up over decades, even as it squanders it quarter by quarter. And if you’re thinking “hey, John, don’t you work for a prestige company that got taken over, and had the name “max” slapped on its signature product?” Hey, I don’t know what you’re talking about, this situation is completely different! New business Daddy is so mad at us all the time. So, what now? Well, the truth is: Boeing’s not going out of business anytime soon. It’s one of just two major commercial airplane manufacturers in the world. So we don’t need them to disappear. We need them to get better. The key question is — can they fundamentally change? Well, thanks in part to pressure from the families who lost loved ones in those crashes, congress did pass bipartisan legislation rolling back some of Boeing’s ability to oversee its own planes. And it’s encouraging that the FAA is now insisting Boeing come up with a plan to address safety in 90 days — although we’ll see what that brings. And Boeing wants me to tell you and Boeing will say that it knows it’s made mistakes in the past, but under the leadership of their CEO, Dave Calhoun — you know, Mr. Quality escape — they are approaching the challenges they currently face with a new spirit of accountability and complete transparency. But it’s hard to trust that, given that Calhoun served on Boeing’s board since 2009, through most of the bad decisions you saw tonight. And there’s also the fact that 737 max 8 and 9 planes are still flying despite an FAA directive last August highlighting a serious new issue, warning that if pilots on the max used an engine anti-icing system — what one pilot described to us as the equivalent of a car’s back windshield “defogger” — in dry air for more than five minutes — it could shatter the engines’ housing, causing a hazard to window passengers, decompression, and potential loss of control of the airplane. And while Calhoun claims he’s very confident they’ll have a “fix” — which is great news — in the meantime, Boeing’s asking pilots, once more, to be the last line of defense. One we spoke to even sent us a photo of this post-it note he uses in his cockpit to remind him to turn off the anti-icing system, along with an iPhone timer. And that’s too much pressure for a fucking post-it note. They shouldn’t be the last line of defense against plane crashes. They should be the last line of defense against Sheila from marketing eating your chobani out of the work fridge. Boeing whistle-blowers — who wants this company to get better — have repeatedly said it won’t change until it has new leadership. And Boeing may not be able to coast on its reputation much longer — as demonstrated by the fact that, on booking sites like Kayak, you can use this menu to select specific Boeing models and exclude them from your flight search. They’ve actually moved that filter up the page, following a recent spike in usage. And you know things are bad when the general public is getting this knowledgeable about specific plane models. It’s pretty clear, something has to change at Boeing. And it has to be at the top of that company. Because if you’re truly too big to fail, that should mean you’re big enough to spend the time and resources required to fix the culture you’ve destroyed. And in the meantime, the very least you can do is advertise the kind of company you are in a more accurate way.

♪ ♪

At Boeing, make the impossible happen on a regular basis.

At Boeing, we take pride in our work.

At Boeing, we — sorry. Can you put the camera up a little bit? You are really close. At Boeing — I’m sorry. It feels very tight.

At Boeing, we believe the first step in making a difference is believing you can.

And I’m not talking about any difference: I’m talking about a positive difference — in share price! The share price needs to go up, and to stay up, like our planes do almost all of the time.

Since its founding, Boeing has been built on quality, safety, and trust.

And then, we thought “let’s try something new.”

I joined Boeing because I wanted to invent things no one ever dreamed of, and they told me if I wanted to do that, what I needed was to invent a time machine to 1992!

I did tell him that, and I think the joke landed, like airplanes do, almost all of the time.

Whatever it is we do at Boeing, let’s do it right.

Or, let’s do it close enough to write that nobody can tell the difference from the outside, and hope everybody keeps their mouth shut.

— Agreeing with business decisions.

Encourage them to speak up.

When they do, I usually say “what, I can’t hear you. Our offices are so far from Seattle.”

Airplane design is about precision, care, attention to detail, and someone telling you to make it so quickly you make the whole thing vulnerable to a fucking balloon.

We like a culture-driven philosophy at Boeing, and we got the camel porn to prove it. Is that tough? We are.

I try to report everything I see tutti faa. See that? There is about missing here, so I won’t report.

At Boeing, we — hold on, I’m getting a text.

Is at the FAA?

Yeah, I do the FAA’s job, but I work for Boeing. It’s super loud.

It’s super loud.

Apparently, there is a bolt missing.

It’s fine. Do you even know how many bolts there are on an airplane? To many. You lose one or two, that’s a rounding error.

The boys on the factory floor floor, using, because when all about the bolts. And I work fast. Like scary fast. People should be worried about how fast I work. Is it okay if I take these home?

Quality is at the forefront of everything we do at Boeing.

And sometimes, it’s so far at the forefront it escapes. Quality, get back! Get back here, you! [Laughs]

I’m not sure I want to get on one of these planes.

Oh, I definitely wouldn’t get on one.

I would.

Yeah, but that’s different, because you have —

That death with each thing.

— That death wish thing.

We are Boeing, and we are focused on the important things: raising stock prices, increasing stock prices, making stock prices bigger, or elevating stock prices. Delivering value to shareholders at any and all human caused. Boeing: we — business school, get on our plane!

John: Thank you so much, that is our show, see you next week!

Our planes are 100% safe. Just so long as no one ever lets go of a balloon — shit, shit, shit, shit, shit! Why would you give me a balloon?

Don’t just take it from me: take it from our branded merge. How many bolts are on an airplane? Too many! It’s so cute. Where are they? Who knows? One or two? Loosen up, like the bolt! ♪ ♪


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