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tv   Al Jazeera Investigates  Al Jazeera  November 26, 2014 1:00am-2:01am EST

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nippon [ ♪ music ♪ ] [ ♪ music ♪ ] the boeing 787 - sold as a dreamliner. >> an all-new airplane in a once in a decade if not once in a generation achievement of human
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ingenuity. >> for airlines it's cheap to fly. for passengers it offers unparalleled comfort. >> wow. >> for boeing it promised windfall profits. >> the dreamliner is the plane of the future. >> al jazeera discovers a dark side to the dreamliner. >> unimaginable that we could be three years late have a fleet grounding, have fires on the airplane. >> our investigation find boeing altered its own quality standards. >> they are short-changing the engineering process to meet a schedule. >> we uncover a whistleblower fired as he fought for safety. >> there's no doubt there's bad repairs going out the door on the 787. >> we go behind closed doors to the factory floor to reveal a world boeing keeps secret.
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[ ♪ music ♪ ] january 16th, 2013 - takamatsu, japan. a brand new boeing 787 dreamliner makes an emergency landing. passengers knew the plane was in trouble.
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the blue box was one of the dreamliner two lithium-ion batteries, the most powerful ever permitted on an aircraft. >> it's a latest in a string of embarrassments for boeing 787's state the art aircraft. >> nine days earlier, a battery catching fire. >> japanese carriers nippon airliners, grounded their fleet of 787s. >> japan naa was the first to fly the dreamliner, and are now the first to ground flights. within 24 hours the u.s. safety regulator, the federal aviation administration grounded the 78
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#. >> all 50 of the boeing 787 dreamliner have been grounded. >> the rest of the world followed. know boeing fleet had been forced from service. on january 17, 2013 the dream was over. i'm will jordan for a year my team and i have been investigating the dreamliner it's the boeing company's bet on the future, a plane created to save fuel offer comfort and increase profits built in a new way, designed and manufactured by scores of companies around the globe. the company that makes the patry is based in kyoto, gsu archon.
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we wanted them to tell us what had gone wrong. hi how are you. al jazeera. >> al jazeera. >> yes. >> i wonder whether you might be willing to do an interview. >> they refused. the battery is only one part of the complex system. there's a charger made at a factory thousands of kilometres away. what happened there showed boeing learnt years ago how dangerous a lithium-ion battery could be. in tuscon arizona, we track down michael layon, an electrical technician. >> i've been working electronics since i was 17, and i joined the paratroopers and was assigned to
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an electronic communications battalion in the 2nd airborne. this is the first time i have been here since 2007. it's hard to believe that this is what's left of the 3-storey engineering structure. >> on a november morning in 2006, layon and dozens of others clocked in at secure plane the company that makes the battery charger. >> and i started a pot of coffee. i went into the lab and started working on the battery charming unit. >> then it happened. >> there was a loud explosion. all of a sudden i was laying on the floor. there it was, coming out the side of this battery, it was about that big, and it wasn't like fire, it looked like a jet afterburner, like jet exhaust.
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[ sirens ] . >> the prototype battery that was used to test the charger exploded. >> i heard a loud series of metallic ravelling bangs. and just a jet of steam. the fire was literally rolling up the walls around me and on the ceiling. i could see it eating up all around me. i know that if that happened on board an aircraft there would be no chance of survival. >> it was the biggest chemical fire in tuscon's history. a 10,000 square foot, 3 storey structure burnt to the ground. >> after my building burnt down after that they realised very
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emphatically the danger of this chemistry. richard luxo nose the chemistry of the battery. boeing chose the most powerful but the most volatile. >> they went to lithium cobalt which is way up here for danger. >> luxo stepped down as secure plane president before the fire and started a new company to make lithium-ion batteries for business jets. he was a true believer in the technology. then he began testing. >> 2.3 amp power series battery pack bullet test. >> luxo went behind the latest industry guidelines going so far as to fire bullets into bat
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rice to see if -- batteries to see if they could be made safe for military applications. >> you can run and feel you meet the requirements to be safe. you also need to have a conscience. that's going to tell you "i want to do the extreme." >> in the end, testing with a conscience - luxo couldn't make the batteries meet the requirements. his new company failed. >> we became proficient in destroying batteries. and the more we learnt about it the worse we got. oh my god. we were saying "i wonder what the rest of the guys were doing." i guess we knew. >> by "the rest of the guys", he means boeing. they were testing two a week as
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standard. one written by the f.a.a. specifically for the dreamliner. it's the f.a.a.'s job to regulate air safety. when it comes to building airplanes, the f.a.a. delegates oversight almost completely to the aircraft manufacturers. when it become the battery and beyond boeing largely polices itself. the batteries passed boeing's test in line with the f.a.a. rules. the 787 batteries virtually would never catch fire on an aircraft said boeing. then they failed twice, within nine days. boeing has not uncovered the root cause of the failures but found a work around - a strong steel case more insulation and an exhaust for noxious fumes. >> any fire will be impossible because there's not enough
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oxygen to support combustion. >> several scientists have their doubts. >> i don't think it's a fix. inside the box with all the fortification, all the elements are there for fire. >> despite not knowing the root cause, america's safety regulators, the f.a.a. was satisfied. in april, 2013, the dreamliner was back. this story goes beyond a burning battery. it begins at boeing itself. part of our heritage... >> coping with tradgedy >> the enemy of any productive life is self pity... >> defending the environment >> global warming is gravest threat... >> every saturday, join us for exclusive... revealing... and surprising talks with the most interesting people of our time...
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the first american commercial jet capable of economical [ ♪ music ♪ ] this is it the first american commercial jet capable of economical trans-atlantic service - the boeing 747 jet clipper. >> since it's creation in seattle, boeing had a reputation as world class. in 1997 boeing changed. it merged with competitor mcdonald douglas. two companies with two very different business models. >> the merger was all about transforming our successful culture and business model into the same business model that mcdonald douglas used unsuccessfully. >> you basically shortchange engineering, stop doing product development - you run the business for crash. >> the new boeing moved the
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headquarters from seattle, the only home it knew to chicago. it began slashing investment in research in order to cut costs. and maximise wall street returns. >> i felt it was wrongs i felt it was going to take the company in the wrong direction. and i thought that quality would suffer. and the integrity of the product would suffer. i feel that that legacy history and competence has been hijacked by a bunch of corporate thugs. >> by 2003 it was time to launch a new plane. but boeing's new board was reluctant to invest the billions
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needed. >> the board made it clear they wanted the plane made for less money, they wanted it made for $5 billion. they wanted partners to come in to pay the rest. it's extensive. how do you make that happen? well, you promise them that you can do it for less. then worry about the consequences later. >> boeing came up with a plan to save itself money. it would push the costs on to major suppliers. boeing would call them partners and they would design and pay for the parts they built. boeing's job would be to assemble the plane. >> it was almost as if at times you thought boeing executives believed maybe they could sit in chicago and have other companies do things and they'd rake in the money somehow by putting it
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together and putting a boeing sticker on it at the end. . >> right on schedule boeing rolled out the dreamliner on sunday july the 8th 2006. 787. >> airlines today have made a big commitment to boeing and to this airplane. so far they have ordered 677 of them. [ cheering and applause ] >> 2007 was a magical moment that i have seen in the industry. >> watching us live around the world broadcasting in 45 countries, i'm told in nine languages, for the premiere of this very exciting new boeing 787 dreamliner. [ clapping ] >> we were all inside the factory with artificial lighting - big stage, huge
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screen. [ cheering and applause ] >> then they opened the doors of this giant assembly bay and in rolls this beautiful, beautiful aircraft. [ cheering and applause ]. >> and there it is sitting in the sun, and we stream on site and touch it. none of us noticed. i'm reassured by all the executives involved that it will fly within two months. what i realised walking around it is that you could, you know look up in the wheel well and see daylight. we learnt that the whole thing was a sham. >> beautiful, isn't it. absolutely beautiful. >> they roll out this big
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airplane. >> i realised the doors were made of plywood. this plane that we were admiring was completely a shell inside. >> none of this would be possible, of course without exceptional leadership. >> there's only two conclusions you can draw. you have executives there who are either lying - in which case they are clueless or you have a complete disconnect between the people working on the plane - the engineers and the executives who are saying this. >> so to each and every member of the 787 global team i say thank you, congratulations and keep up the great work. >> more than any other single event, it was the big lie and it was a statement that the boeing company is now all about the big lie.
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>> the day after the roll out wall street bushed boeing's stock to a 10-year high. it was all about to unravel as revealed in boeing's investor clause. >> hello welcome to the quarterly update on the 787 programme. >> september 2007, boeing announces its first delay. >> it's not a failure how the airplane goes together it's a really complicated puzzle. >> october 2007 a 3-month delay becomes six months. >> we wish we didn't have to do this. new kind of innovation presents challenges, we are doing our best to meet them. >> october 2009, six months becomes two years of delays. >> we know that we can and must do better and i'm confident
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that despite our setbacks we'll get the 787 through the flight test programme and into the hands of our customers. >> it kept getting worse and worse. it seemed unbelievable. you have to understand this is unprecedented. there'd never been a boeing delay in a boeing programme. the sequence of event looked like a catastrophe, rather than a manageable series of delays. >> the dreamliner business strategy was backfiring. designed to save so much funny, it was costing boeing billions. >> the outsourcing plan failed very badly. all the different suppliers who were going to build these major sections couldn't actually do
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it. >> to fix the dreamliner boeing dispatched hundreds of inspectors to quality suppliers around the globe, including its partners alenia in southern italy. >> we are walking through the process. >> alenia would take on the tack of constructing the body of plane - not with aluminium panels but composite plastic barrels. the pain active to lose weight saving fuel and making the 787 cheaper to run. no one had made anything like this before. not boeing and especially not alenia. >> there is nothing comparable with that. >> nothing. >> no. >> boeing's quality inspectors have one overriding priority - to make sure the job is done
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correctly. in 2009 when inspectors found flaws in parts made in this plant, they ordered work to stop. a year later in allenia's other factory they found serious problems. and again they ordered work to stop. this time managers overruled the quality inspectors. this internal boeing document from 2010 reveals executives ordered alenia to continue with fabrication without delay. >> we felt the procedure to stop, but with the help of a boeing specialist they took responsibility for approving the quality and we worked in engineering at the time designing the product. >> in this separate memo obtained by al jazeera boeing states that schedule may require deviation from the preferred quality process. we received the memos from an engineer who like many we spoke
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with was afraid to appear on camera he answered questions by email. the quality engineer told us deviating from the process compromised safety. alenia and boeing said it did not. so i brought the memo to the former president of boeing's engineering union. my name is cynthia cole. >> cynthia cole spent 32 years at the company, never on the dreamliner company.
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she had never seen this memo before. >> wow. the programme schedule may require deviation to the preferred process. see, that one sentence there, that fragment of the sentence - you know you don't change your quality process for schedule. you make quality happen in the schedule. they are shortchanging the engineering process to meet a schedule. and they are not even allowing quality control to do their job, and telling them this is how it's going to be. i don't see how these people who write these things and agree to these things and the signatures how they sleep at night. i don't get it. how can you do that? as an engineer i find that reprehensible. >> how does that make you feel
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as a flyer? >> yes not flying on a 787. it makes, you know - i've been avoiding flying on a 787. seeing this i would definitely avoid flying on a 787. >> no one's prepared for this journey. >> experience al jazeera america's critically acclaimed original series from the beginning. >> experiencing it has changed me completely. >> follow the journey as six americans face the immigration debate up close and personal. >> it's heartbreaking. >> i'm the enemy. >> i'm really pissed off. >> all of these people shouldn't be dead. >> it's insane. >> the borderland thanksgiving day marathon. on al jazeera america. >> now available, the new al jazeea america mobile news app. get our exclusive in depth, reporting when you want it. a global perspective wherever you are. the major headlines in context.
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>> if the dreamliner represents boeing's future, then i've come to the place if the dreamliner represents boeing's future i've come to the place where that will be built. at this assembly plant in charleston south carolina. i've been called to a meeting with a man who works inside the plant. he's taking a huge risk even talking to me. >> it's been eating me alive to know what i know and have no avenue, no venue to say anything. >> at his request we used a
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different voice. >> 300 souls on the plane - their lives are bigger than me. >> we had seen reports of bad workmanship in the plant. the man claimed the problems go far deeper. >> with all the problems reported on the 787, 90% is swept away hushed up - it's an iceberg. the people that actually work on it are the biggest problem. there is an uneducated underskilled and uncaring staff that are building the plans. i'm not the only one that feels this way. >> he was prepared to build it wearing a camera in the plant to record what some workers said about the dreamliner.
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>> you can't have someone from mcdonald's do heart surgery, that's trusting someone with your life. that is what we are doing here. . >> i've seen a lot of things that should not go on at an
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airplane plant. people talking about doing drugs. looking for drugs. >> i have never seen anybody or heard of anyone saking a random urinalysis. as far as i know random drug tests don't happen. >> when boeing first announced
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the 787 in 2003. no one dreamt it would have been assembled anywhere but washington state. the one place boeing had always made its commercial aircraft. but new boeing was playing by new rules. so it did something it had never done before. auctioned off final assembly to the highest bidder. >> they were going to hold a competition for it. state against state, nation-wide competition where to build the plane. i ran to my editor after i put the phone down i think it was 5 o'clock. and i said you're not going to believe this they are going - they are not necessarily going to build it here. >> washington state won, but only by giving boeing what was then a record $3 billion in tax
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breaks. [ chanting ] >> five years later boeing's machinists walked off the job after contract negotiations stalled. the strike cost boeing billions and added to the dreamliner' delays. boeing's stock was in free fall amid a growing economic crisis. >> that strike really enraged the top executives of boeing. and so early to 2009, they made it very clear that they wanted a second assembly line somewhere else. >> that turned out to be south carolina. the state offered cheap land and labour. close to a billion in support, and no unions. >> the decision to build the second 787 assembly line in
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charleston south carolina was made because of the strike in 2008. they wanted to do it there, because they wanted to weaken the union. and they did. >> kind of has a shameless field to it. it's very manipulative and not very home town. it's not the way to treat your people in your community, unless they are not in your community, and you see them as a source of gains to be extracted. for boeing leaving behind a world class union for a new area in charleston would come at a price. work in the plant is significantly behind schedule and plagued by production errors.
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>> i know of one customer who will no longer accept planes from charleston due to quality issues. they'll only accept final assembly done in everett washington. every day when you go to work not only are you doing your job, but you are looking at the previous job to see if someone messed something else up on that and chose not to tell anyone. >> to be sure everything is done correctly and the plane is safe boeing has inspectors payne takingly checking every step of the work. in south carolina this inspector says he only signs off on finished jobs.
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>> which do you think is the priority then - schedule or quality? >> schedule.
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[ ♪ music ♪ ] if it's a constant battle between quality and schedule we found a casualty. hundreds of kilometres from south carolina in mississippi. >> my name is john woods. i'm an aerospace engineer. i work for general electric, lockheed boeing. >> john woods spent a career in the highly specialised field of aerospace composite. boeing hired woods knowing he had qualified psychiatric conditions. attention deficit disorder
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obsessive compulsive disorder and mild depression. his job was to write instructions on how to repair parts damaged during the manufacturing process. >> it was my job to make sure that that aircraft is safe. >> woods says when he tried to enforce quality standards in the south carolina plant he was berated by his bosses. and a couple of meetings there were a group of managers screaming at me to dumb down my work instruction saying "you have to remove requirements from your work instructions." it's going to take too much time. >> woods says he witnessed damaged parts ignored, papered over and hidden from view. >> there's no doubt bad repairs
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were going out the door on the 787 aircraft. i am worried that sooner or later there'll be a structural failure on the fuselage. woods appealed to boeing's human resources department claiming he was being harassed for doing his job. instead of coming to his defense, boeing's managers put woods under review. weeks later, they fired him. >> i'll never forget this. the day before i was terminated i was telling my brother how proud i was to be working at boeing. it's true. so instead of saying thanks for doing a good job, as i thought i was doing what i was supposed to be doing, i had to leave in jam,
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really. i was embarrassed for my own family. >> he still had not lost faith in the system. he turned to the f.a.a. filing a whistleblower complaint. the document alleged seven series violations in the south carolina plan. >> so i've gotten to the page where they reached their conclusions and discussions and what they found, of all the allegations, all but one they could not substantiate and the one they could they asked boeing to fix it they said "we fixed it", and they closed the investigation. that's pretty. how they all go i mean i've
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seen this so many times. >> thank you. >> when they call me they call me with information saying "i have this information about this dangerous situation, should i blow the whistle?" and i said not unless you have a private trust fund or another job to go to because you'll have a problem earning a living. >> i had to maximise all my credit cards to survive, to support the family. there was a lot less money for the kids for college and everything else.
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it shouldn't be this hard to do the right thing. >> when we looked at woods f.a.a. complaint. we noticed a familiar name the man in charge. dreamliner. in 2011, three years behind schedule boeing celebrated approval for the boeing 787 to fly. and he signed the order. >> thank you to the manager of the transport plane. >> it was barami who signed off on the dreamliner batteries. after two failed and the f.a.a. grounded the dreamliner, it was bahrami that signed it back into the air. shortly after that he retired from the f.a.a. two weeks later he was hired as vice president of the aerospace
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industry's association which lobies on behalf of boeing. one of the first things he did was appear br congress to call for greater self-regulation for companies like boeing. >> he urged the f.a.a. to allow greater us not only to take advantage of industry expertise, but increase the collaboration this improves aviation safety. >> mr bahrami declined our interview request. >> one day you are regulating the airline, the next day you are working for it. you can't be tough on the industry you are regulating because you'll never get the plum jobs you need. the regulators at the f.a.a. barely gross boeing. >> it's the washington influence game and boeing is a master. they had over 100 lobbyists.
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78 government workers, three former members of congress. james mcnerney is president of president obama's export council. the president's former chief of staff came from boeing's board, as did his second commerce secretary. his secretary of state hillary clinton helped broker a $3.7 billion sale of boeing planes to a russian airline. even president obama boasts that he works for boeing. >> so i teas him every time i see him saying i deserve a gold watch because i'm selling your stuff all the time. >> jay is james mcnerney. it's clear what boeing gets from the u.s. government. what is not so clear is what it gives back? >> boeing paid no taxes in 2013 no federal income taxes, that's not unique.
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over the last 12 years they claimed $1.6 billion in federal tax refund and reported $43 billion in u.s. profits. >> reporter: 43 billion in profit. none of that comes from the dreamliner, which cost billions and is years away from making money. all of boeing's commercial profit comes from older aircraft created prior to the dreamliner prior to james mcnerney and prior to the merger. it has been the top executives and large stock holders who benefitted most. >> boeing c.e.o. james mcnerney made $27.6 million, enough to pay the salaries of the president of the united states the vice president, 15 secretaries, seven joint chiefs of staff and all 100 senator. >> james mcnerney is set to
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retire with a pension of close to 250,000 a month. just before christmas 2013, boeing demanded pension cuts from its union machinists. >> for james mcnerney to earn a pension at approximately a quarter of a million per month and think that it's okay for him to take my $2200 a month pension - is outrageous. it's absolutely outrageous. >> back in south carolina our unauthorised tour with the boeing workforce comes to a close. there's one question left to ask. would you fly on one?
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>> our source asked 15 of his co-worker if they'd fly on the dreamliner. 10 said no. workers who fear to fly the plane they built. quality loosened to speed up schedules. workers fired after making safety allegations. we needed answers from boeing. >> right now we are at a very exciting point in time. we have brought our production rates up to 10 airplanes a
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month, faster in any aviation history, and the highest level of any wide-bodied plane. >> there's a couple of documents i'd like to show you. >> i showed him the documents to show the changed procedures and overruled inspectors. mr loftus was not manager of the 787 programme in 2010 when the memos were written. >> i'm not familiar with the document. >> former boeing engineers told us they repeat boeing ahead of quality shortchanging processes to meet a schedule is that what you recognise? >> the number one focus is ensuring the continued safe air worthiness of an aeroplane, the integrity and the quality going out. >> we have heard directly from workers inside your south carolina plant. they paint a grim picture, really, of things. they say the workforce is not up to the job.
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>> i'm confident in the quality of the workforce in boeing south carolina. >> the boeing workers at south carolina don't share that confidence. here is what some of them said... >> guys we'll call a halt here for a second. could you turn the camera off for a second. >> why do we need to turn the camera off, what's the problem. boeing's communication manager stopped the interview. >> who are the employees that you spoke to in south carolina. >> obviously i can't tell you who the employees are, but they are boeing workers who assemble the planes that you built. >> i'm not sure it is appropriate here and now. >> i'm assuming the buck stops with the boeing commercial airplane's management and so the most senior managers are the ones to answer this. we are here with the head of the 787 programme. and we have these things that you need to hear and you need to provide a response to. >> we have not had a chance to
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review this or craft a response. >> step out for a second. >> okay. >> yes i do. i have the highest degree of confidence in the production sting we have with the employees we have with the employees and the supply chain. >> okay. >> boeing answered our questions in writing, denying it compromised safety or quality and said our interview was hostile, unprofessional and in the worse traditions of tabloid style television news. the company said it was confident that the battery fix presents failures. boeing says it uses one common f.a.a. quality system for the 787 in everett and charleston. boeing noted its memo stated that it did not signify authorisation to ship parts to
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don't meet quality parts. the company denies any customer had said they'll only take planes from everett. as for john woods - boeing said his safety claims have no merit toronto - may 18, 2014. air canada celebrates the delivery of its first 787. this is the modern marketing reality of the dreamliner. >> today represents a huge milestone for air canada. we have been waiting a long time for the airplane. it will allow us to grow in unprecedented ways. >> because when you were eating before, where did you put it. >> i think our passengers will be resentive of the amenities.
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>> we were excited. we love the aircraft. >> anything you want to add? >> no we are very very happy. >> from a seating point of view. how is it different. >> are there more rest rooms? >> is there another reality? one revealed by a burning battery, by the words of the workers who built the planes... >> why boeing's changes to its own quality protocol. boeing says the 787 has no more problems than previous models. the f.a.a. says there's never been a safer time to fly. the dreamliner is the fastest selling plane in the world. one day we may all found ourselves on board. when we do, we trust boeing has put quality first. we will trust the regulators have been rigorous. ultimately, we will trust the
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plane is safe.
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>> we have an exclusive story tonight, and we go live... >> this is the watts in south los angeles most people know. two and a half square miles of run down neighborhoods and housing projects controlled by rival gangs.
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this is the other side of watts that most people don't see. a neighborhood of murals, street art telling the story of the city's troubled past and hopes for the future. >> you can do like the bottom piece and i could do the top and we can... >> cool. >> the great wall of watts doesn't just represent a victory for artists and curators, like warren brand, it's a rare multi-cultural collaboration. >> we've got one artist over here who's latino, we've got another artist over here who's african american and we're in the middle of watts. >> yeah. >> traditionally two groups of people that are kind of considered enemies here. >> i tried to figure out, okay what's the best message we could send and to me, equality, unity, friendship, you know, teamwork. >> the project is also brining together students from different schools. >> latinos and blacks don't really get along but like today, like this day we see that we are getting along. >> the hope is that once this mural is completed, it will help change the narrative of this
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troubled neighborhood, telling all who see it of that day when the blacks and latinos came together, worked side by side, to meet in the middle. >> the financial crisis may be over, but some aspects of our lives will never be the same. we're now living in what is being called the new normal economy, and today i'm explore how it has changed the way americans live and work. how it is altering your job prospects, and what it means for your investments or savings. i'll tell you how to adapt and make sure your future is secure. "real money" ♪


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