Boeing responds to accusations of negligence at North Charleston Boeing plant, faces lawsuit

After two plane crashes and 346 people killed, Boeing admits its equipment played a role.
After two plane crashes and 346 people killed, Boeing admits its equipment played a role.
Updated: Apr. 21, 2019 at 12:15 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing has responded to a New York Times article released on Saturday detailing accusations of “shoddy production" and “weak oversight” at its North Charleston facility.

The article, titled, “Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet,” claims that the company “often valued production speed over quality.”

Boeing is currently dealing with the aftermath of two deadly crashes of its 737 max planes. Its North Charleston facility manufactures the company's 787 Dreamliner.

While the article says there is no evidence that parts from the plant have led to any safety incidents, it does give an inside look into the facilities through the eyes of current and former employees.

In a statement sent to all Boeing South Carolina teammates, Brad Zaback, a site leader at the plant and general manager of the 787 program, said the report "paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and of our team."

Zaback went on to state that the allegations of poor quality are “offensive.”

“I see the highest quality airplanes – airplanes that meet rigorous quality inspections and FAA standards – deliver on time on a regular basis from Boeing South Carolina, where they perform exceptionally well in service for our valued airplane customers around the world,” Zaback said.

Earlier this week, however, in a lawsuit that was originally filed in Charleston County in March and transferred Tuesday to federal court, a former Boeing employee makes similar claims that support the claims of the article.

While the main causes of actions for the lawsuit argue the man was wrongfully terminated, it also suggests Boeing sacrificed compliance with their own policies and regulations that were put in place to protect the public in exchange for expediting aircraft production and profit from sales.

The lawsuit claims Boeing “confronted the plaintiff with the dilemma of choosing to maintain his livelihood by cooperating in Boeing's scheme of fraudulently concealing non-conformities in the aircraft they were selling.”

Boeing released the following statement about the lawsuit:

“The Boeing Company and two Boeing South Carolina managers have been named in a lawsuit filed by Liam Wallis, a former Quality Systems Specialist, who was terminated on June 16, 2017, for falsifying aircraft inspection reports. Wallis is alleging claims for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, civil conspiracy, and wage and hour violations alleging unpaid overtime. Specifically, Wallis claims that Boeing’s Quality Department failed to follow proper inspection protocols.

Boeing denies these allegations. Wallis was terminated after an internal investigation found that he submitted two falsified documents indicating that he witnessed required aircraft manufacturing tests that had not been completed. Boeing’s safety program discovered the discrepancy early in the production process, and the required tests were completed.

Boeing’s 787 Program has a strong culture of safety and compliance. The safety of our employees and the public is Boeing’s number one priority.”

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