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Why Boeing Should NOT Be Blamed for Plane Malfunctions

Is Boeing to blame for all the airplane malfunctions we’ve heard about recently? Or is there another culprit? Glenn recalls a conversation he recently had with a pilot who was tired of the federal government putting all the blame on Boeing. Instead, he argued, it’s the federal inspectors who certify the planes and a lack of pilot training, especially outside of America, that should be called out. But do other pilots agree? Is this yet another example of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s accidental or intentional incompetence? Glenn hears from members of his audience who have experience in the aviation industry and their answer was pretty clear …

TranscriptBelow is a rush transcript that may contain errors

GLENN: Okay. Yesterday, I had a good friend come up to me. And he said to me, Glenn, I can't take the news on Boeing anymore.

And I said, why is that? And he said, well, you know, I was a pilot. And I said, that's right. For American pilots. For years.

He said, yes. So I kind of know something about the airline industry. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

And he said, aren't all planes that come from Boeing, don't they receive a final check?

Yes. Don't they also receive a final check, from the government, when -- when there is a -- when the plane comes in, and before it flies, do they not certify that, yeah. That plane is -- yeah. Now, whose job would that be.

By the way, when you buy a plane, and the screws are loose, you would think somebody that was signing off, would be held responsible, for I didn't see the screws.

Right? Once a plane comes down, they -- they have to check the plane. And if you saw some loose screws, then that would probably be, you know, the maintenance guy that would be like. Where is the maintenance guy that was supposed to check the screws?

He said, also, we have a minimum requirement sheet.

Like, if the engine falls off, well, we have another one.

So we can still fly it to land it, okay?

He said, it's like a door of a panel falls off, he said, we can still fly the plane.

We can still fly the plane. He said, we have a little checklist. Like if this goes wrong, that's trouble. If a panel falls off, eh, a panel falls off. We just adjust a little bit. We're fine.

STU: I mean, if you're on the ground, you might not be shrugging your shoulders as much. But generally speaking, the plane can keep going.

GLENN: Right. Right. And he said, panels from time to time will fall off. He said, but what I'm thinking is, there's a problem with maintenance, which would be a problem with the unions.

Because nobody has personal pride of ownership anymore.

And he said, so is it maintenance, is it -- is it the -- the press, that is -- is looking at all these things, and don't understand, that there's also an inspector that signs off on the plane.

That's an interesting -- because I believe that brings us back, to Pete Buttigieg.

STU: What a surprise.

GLENN: What a surprise. What a surprise.

STU: So is the theory basically, that Boeing is getting unfair blame on this?

GLENN: Yes. Yes.

It could be -- he's not saying they're innocent.

But he is saying, they're getting way more than their share of blame for this.

STU: Right. It's easy for you to point your fingers at them.

GLENN: Yeah. You got a panel. You have to screw the panel back on. You're inside, and doing something in maintenance with the panel. You've got to screw the panel back on.

STU: Right. They did come with all the descries loose, right? That would be weird.

GLENN: Right. And, you know, you check for screws.

STU: Yeah.

GLENN: When you're on the ground, doing maintenance. You kind of give it a once over. And then the inspector looks for those kinds of things.

STU: Right. Now, obviously, part of this is because they had the issues with, you know, the one plane that they brought into -- everyone was using.

Was it -- the Air Max?

Yeah. Yeah. That -- on the -- on the heels of that. Right?

GLENN: But he said. He said, that doesn't make sense to him.

And I didn't -- he started talking, you know, airplane physics. And I don't think there's any physics that actually make a plane fly.

It's too heavy.

STU: Could you even keep your eyes open during this.

GLENN: No. I did.

I just couldn't understand it. He said, Boeing, for more fuel efficiency. He said, they're more powerful engines. And they lifted them. So they didn't suck a bunch of stuff from the ground. Okay?

So they lifted them higher.

He said, and when you go into a steeper incline, he said, that causes -- I don't know what you call it, but a wobble that hits your tail. Okay?

And he said, we've trained for that for 50 years. He said, there's no -- there's no excuse for an American pilot to have any problems with that.

STU: Right. These were foreign incidents.

GLENN: Correct.

STU: Right.

GLENN: Right. So he said, that's not -- that's a training problem. That's not a Boeing problem. That's a training problem.

STU: Hmm.

That's interesting. Well, that's not surprising that an institution would be taken down by the media. You know, maybe with a little bit of undeserved some, at least, undeserved.

GLENN: Maybe. I don't know. I don't know.

I would love to talk -- if you're a pilot. I would love to hear from you.

Does that make sense to you?

GLENN: I want to take some calls from last hour, we were mentioning that had a pilot friend, come into me yesterday. Saying, Glenn, this is not Boeing's fault.

And his name was Ron Boeing. But no, he said, it's not Boeing -- it's not Boeing's fault. He said, I think it's the mechanic's fault. And he explained why.

But I wanted to hear from other airline pilots. This guy was a pilot for I don't even know. Thirty years. Forty years. At American Airlines. And he knew what he was talking about. I couldn't translate what he was talking about. But I wanted to know if there were any pilots that agreed. Whose fault is it?

Is it Boeing?

Is it the FAA.

Pete Buttigieg. Secretary of Transportation. Is it the airline? Is it the mechanics? Michael in Kansas, you're a pilot.

CALLER: That's correct. I am.

GLENN: Okay. Whose fault is it?

CALLER: I'm a retired captain with United.

GLENN: Okay.

CALLER: You know, it's an issue -- I think your American friend was on target. I think it's pretty good too, as far as, I think it's just sloppiness.

I have friends who are retired. Boeing actually.

And they said, you know, sometimes when they would see things wrong, they would raise a flag and say, this or that. And they would kind of ignore it. And they had this whistle-blower a while back, that was found dead in his car.

But there's things -- there's just been some things like that. That -- there's an awful lot about to go. A lot of airplanes out there. There's a lot of, you know, things wearing out. Whether they're newer or not. They're putting a lot of hours on these things. And they do need some good scrutiny. And I think it just falls through the cracks. But I don't think it's Boeing. Whether it's a lack of leadership at the top on the federal end to put the focus in the right place, or exactly what is going on there, but obviously we've got a problem.

GLENN: He was telling me about, what was it? The 777 Max. And he said, hmm, that problem is caused when you are coming up at a sharp angle. He said, it will cause some sort of a wind turbulence on the tail. And he said, in America, we train for that.

CALLER: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. And I think, like you said, the accidents that have happened, especially like with the -- the 737 Max, I think that was 100 percent training.

GLENN: How come we haven't heard that?

CALLER: Or lack thereof? I don't know. Third world country, we don't want to make them look bad. I don't know.

GLENN: Wow. Instead, we'll blame everything on Boeing, and make it look like Boeing has gone bad.

I mean, everything I've seen from the news, has made Boeing look bad. And it wasn't is, until I started noticing.

No. It's a lot of united planes, that are having a problem.

That made me think. Well, maybe it's the culture at United, or the mechanics on the ground.

CALLER: Well, you know, whether it's actually -- it probably is somewhat of a culture. Whether it's the DEI-type culture, I couldn't honestly say.

But there is a -- there certainly is a culture, that leads you away from, you know, perfection.

GLENN: Yeah, right. Thank you so much, Michael. I appreciate it. In Florida, we go to Robert. Hi, Robert. You're a former airline captain or pilot.

CALLER: Oh, no, no, no, Glenn. Good morning. And, no, I'm a former mechanic out of the Air Force.

GLENN: Ah. Okay.

CALLER: I know this stuff a little bit, and it's the mechanic's fault. It's also the government, and then the airline if you really think about it. That's where you take it that one step further. The FAA issues a license to the mechanic, that if the mechanic does something wrong, it's supposed to be on him as far as getting that license taken away. And if they're not doing that, they're just letting that slide, that's a problem. Like, I wouldn't get on an airplane right now.

GLENN: Yeah. It's an interesting -- it's an interesting time to fly.

STU: Right.

GLENN: We're pretty sure we'll get you there. Where we were on -- you mean, on time?

CALLER: No, we're just pretty sure we will get you there.

STU: Feel great -- I have several flights scheduled next week, and mechanics are calling me up and saying, hey, don't get on flights. Great.

GLENN: Thanks a lot, Robert. Dawn in Tennessee. Hello, Dawn.

CALLER: Hey, Glenn. Yeah, I agree with your previous caller. I'm a retired Air Force mechanic. And that's -- he's correct.

So these guys get airframe and power plant licenses from the FAA. And through a lot of the experience, you know, to get those tickets. To learn how to work on airplanes.

And I -- I agree with them. I think it's complacency.

And I also think it's the airlines, probably trying to get those airplanes back up in the air, as soon as possible.

You know, because they got, you know, routes that they have to fly.

And these guys are probably under pressure to fix those airplanes, as fast as possible.

And quality is slipping through the cracks.

GLENN: So, Don, why is Boeing getting the blame?

CALLER: Well, Boeing, because they're the manufacturer. They're the ones who actually create the airplane.

But as your previous caller said. Once -- once Boeing delivers the airplane to you to United Delta, American, whoever. It's on the airline at this point. I don't know why Boeing is -- I mean, they're the one that's easy to pick on. They're the person that built the airplane. But all those big maintenance hangars at Dallas/Fort Worth for American and Delta and Atlanta. Those are all -- those are all Delta employees.

And they are the ones who are fixing those airplanes. I think when it goes back to the manufacturers. When you have -- is when you have problems that recur. You know, you have trims. If you see the same thing happening over and over and over again. Then you go back and say, okay. We need to do a trend analysis. But these are isolated stuff. The wheels falling off. A door coming loose. Stupid things like that, that's sloppy maintenance, I think, on the mechanic's side. And that's an airline issue, which is what your friend told you.

GLENN: Hmm. Thank you so much, Don. John in Pennsylvania.

Hello, John.

CALLER: Hi, Glenn.

GLENN: Hi. Are you a pilot, a mechanic, what are you?

CALLER: I'm a retired pilot. Retired pilot. Regional airline level, and then I spent my last three and a half years at American Airlines. I'm agreeing with all the other pilots that have spoken. And it basically gets down to the floor of the maintenance hangar, as to the workers that are doing the work.

And these guys are certified. The mechanics are certified. And they go through a certification process, once the work is done. Sign off on the maintenance issues and everything else.

To say it's an airline fault, is true about trying to get the airplanes back and be rushed on that.

GLENN: Right. To blame Boeing, or to blame Boeing. I can't blame Boeing. And the MCAS system, which is what people are talking about.

737 Max.

You know, that's -- that was a system, that the domestic airlines, not just -- none of my airlines ever had any issues with that system. And/or fatalities, associated with it.

GLENN: John, thank you so much.

And it's crazy. That's exactly what my friend said. You know, you thought, how could Boeing design an airline -- an airplane, and have it that far out of whack.

That when you started to lift, it would fail on you.

And my friend said yesterday, that -- that -- that's because they're not trained.

He said, in America, we train.

That is something, he said -- we've been training for 50 years, on that.

And he said, it's not hard to correct. You just have to know. So why is Boeing getting that rap? Remember, they went through the software and everything else. No! It was the pilots weren't trained.

That's nuts. That's nuts. I mean, is somebody trying to kill Boeing?

STU: I mean, and every piece of the administration is echoing this.

We played the Buttigieg clip earlier.

But like, it's all focused on Boeing, and how bad Boeing is.

GLENN: Right, I haven't heard anything about the mechanics. I've heard people bring up United. And I think United is responsible for the mechanics, but you don't hear any of that.

STU: Sure. It's weird, especially because of how vitally important Boeing is to our economy. Like this is not just some little fly-by-night operation. They get taken down, and they are losing ground against their competitors, which there are only a couple.

GLENN: Yes. Let's go to line 11. And Jeff in Michigan. Hello, Jeff.

CALLER: Hello, how are you doing?

GLENN: Very good. How are you?

CALLER: All right. I think it's a multi-blame. Boeing on the design. MCAS is that with the Boeing design. They have an aerospace engineer, in addition to being retired airline pilot.

You go and look at that. The way they designed it. They shortcut stuff to save money.

But once it gets to the airline, and you have things falling off airplanes. Then it becomes a -- a maintenance issue. And that's where the -- you know, the blame lies. But the bottom line is, it's all about money.

MCAS was designed so that they could save money in getting away with introducing a new airplane, as a derivative. Where they didn't get it completely certificated with the new engine. That they would have to raise the airplane up. So they had to put on new gear, maybe a new wing. So they shortcut that. And then in production, you know, with the holes and that they filled up.

With the door plus. That sort of thing.

That's a production issue. Again, saving money. They outsource it.

And so it's not done as well as well as it should be. Once you get to the airlines. There's a very thin line between profit and loss with that.

GLENN: Sure.

CALLER: So they shortcut things to try and get stuff done as well.

GLENN: Is the FAA or -- I don't know.

Is the FAA under secretary of transportation?

I would assume it is.

Is the FAA responsible for certifying any of this stuff?

CALLER: Oh, yeah. The FAA is -- I've worked for -- alpha safety for a long time.

What I call the airline pirates association now for another reason.

They have a schizophrenic mission. They have to promote flying, at the same time they're enforcing rules. So they're kind of getting pulled in two different directions when they're doing this, and if you don't have the proper administrator over it, making sure that they're doing both jobs, then you're under a problem.

GLENN: All right. Jeff, thank you so much.

Doesn't that sound like maybe we wouldn't have the right person, in the federal position of like, hey, got to get the planes up.

But you also have to make sure that they're safe. You know. For some reason, I don't have a lot of confidence in the leadership of this administration.


STU: No?

GLENN: No. I know. This is probably me.

STU: It's fascinating.

This is -- I've been thinking a lot about this. Because I'm mentioning. I'm going on flights next week. I'm working on a documentary for Blaze originals about air traffic control and the changes that have been going on within it.

And they're not comforting. It doesn't -- they're like, hey, can you take a flight, to do this interview? No! I'll drive!

GLENN: Wait. I've done all this research, and it shows that this is really not a good plan. And now you want me to fly there?

STU: Right. No!

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