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Former Boeing Employee Criticizes Company’s Shift From Quality to Speed

Merle Meyers, a former Boeing quality manager, has a complicated relationship with the aerospace giant where he dedicated over 30 years of his career. 

Next to his recognition for three decades of service, another frame in his home contains a letter critiquing his performance, sent just months after his commendation. 

This juxtaposition mirrors his mixed feelings towards Boeing, a company revered across the aviation sector for its engineering prowess and innovation. 

Meyers, 65, who has recently decided to voice his concerns, speaks with a blend of affection and disillusionment. 

According to Meyers, there was a noticeable shift at Boeing from prioritizing quality to prioritizing production speed. 

He notes that while his early years at Boeing were defined by a stringent adherence to quality, this focus has waned over time, overtaken by the pressures of maintaining production schedules. 

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Credit: EL SEGUNDO, CA, USA, MARCH 7, 201.: Boeing manufacturing facility. Boeing manufactures and sells aircraft, rotorcraft, rockets and satellites. It is the second-largest defense contractor in the world. — Photo by wolterke

Boeing, which dominates the aerospace industry in Washington state, is considered a pillar of American manufacturing and has historically been a source of pride for its workforce, which often spans generations within families. 

Meyers’ connection to Boeing is deeply personal, not only did he build his career there, but his mother also spent her career with the company, along with extended family. 

Despite this legacy, Meyers and others have grown increasingly concerned about the company’s direction, especially following the high-profile crises involving the 737 Max series. 

These incidents have not only led to tragic accidents but have also significantly marred Boeing’s reputation. 

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Credits: DepositPhotos

In response to the ongoing challenges, Boeing has publicly committed to enhancing its quality control measures. 

Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s CEO, emphasized in a recent communication to employees that the company is intensifying its focus on quality and stability across its operations. 

This commitment includes bolstering inspections, enhancing training for personnel, and even halting production temporarily to address and rectify quality concerns. 

Despite these assurances, Meyers reflects on his experiences with a sense of disappointment. 

He recalls how the merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997 began a gradual but distinct shift away from Boeing’s engineering-centric approach towards a more profit-driven focus. 

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Credits: DepositPhotos – Inspection and preparing the aircraft before take off. Maintenance of passenger aircraft chassis at hangar before flight. Airport workers mechanic 4K — Photo by MediaWhalestock

Meyers shares specific instances from his tenure at Boeing’s Everett factory, highlighting how the pressure to maintain production timelines led to compromised quality standards. 

Employees, he noted, would sometimes resort to unauthorized methods to meet production demands, such as using scrapped parts or bypassing necessary inspections. 

These practices, according to Meyers, were tacitly overlooked by management, perpetuating a cycle of quality erosion. 

Concluding his career under less-than-ideal circumstances, Meyers chose to retire after receiving a nebulous reprimand that questioned the quality of his work, without specifying the issues. 

This disappointing end to his long-standing tenure has not dampened his love for the company but has strengthened his resolve to advocate for a return to the high standards that once defined Boeing. 

Meyers’ story is not just a personal narrative but a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggles within one of America’s most iconic industrial giants, as it seeks to balance heritage with progress.