Investigators and industry experts have long wondered how it was possible for Boeing, a company known for their high-quality designs, to have let software problems slip into their Max 737 jetliners which lead to a pair of disastrous plane crashes.
It turns out that this might be due to the company laying off their experienced engineers to instead use lower-paid, temp workers in an effort to save money.
The Max software was developed at a time when the company was shedding some of their most experienced staff in favor of saving money, choosing instead to rely on temp engineers that were paid as little $9 per hour to develop and test the software. Often times, these workers were hired from countries that lacked a strong background in aerospace, such as India.
According to Bloomberg, former engineers that worked on the project knew that many recent grades that were employed by an Indian software development company, HCL Technologies, were coding vital components of the Max software system. These engineers went on to say that it was highly controversial among senior engineers in the company that weren’t first, as these temp workers less efficient than Boeing engineers and that “it took many rounds going back and forth because code was not done correctly.”
“Boeing was doing all kinds of things, everything you can imagine, to reduce cost, including moving work from Puget Sound, because we’d become very expensive here,” said Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing flight controls engineer laid off in 2017. “All that’s very understandable if you think of it from a business perspective. Slowly over time it appears that’s eroded the ability for Puget Sound designers to design.”
Another software engineer went on to say that one manager dismissed the need for senior engineers because their products were mature enough that junior engineers could handle the coding. The engineer in question ended up getting fired in 2015, proving that this outsourcing approach has been going on for a while.
Even before this incident, Boeing has been outsourcing other aspects of their projects. Back in 2008, Boeing expanded a design center in Moscow which also ended up being a waste of time and money for the company.
One staff member of Boeing who worked on the 787 Dreamliner at the time complained that they had sent drawings to the Russian team 18 times before they realized that smoke detectors needed to be connected to the electrical system.
It underscores a significant trend in the software development industry where engineering has begun to be seen as a commodity as many U.S.-based companies resort to outsourcing their work to overseas companies.
This incident goes to prove that this type of strategy doesn’t work, and Boeing will end up having to deal with a significant loss of trust within the aerospace industry thanks to this development.
Boeing Company Profile
Boeing manufactures commercial airplanes, provides defense equipment, and maintains a small captive finance division. With headquarters in Chicago, the firm competes with Airbus in commercial aviation and with Lockheed, Northrop, and several other firms in defense.
Sales are split about 70% and 30% between the commercial aircraft and defense end markets. In 2018, Boeing generated over $100 billion in sales. – Warrior Trading News