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更新時間:2019/4/24 20:41:45 來源:紐約時報中文網 作者:佚名

Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet
波音787工廠曝安全漏洞,員工稱不敢搭乘

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — When Boeing broke ground on its new factory near Charleston in 2009, the plant was trumpeted as a state-of-the-art manufacturing hub, building one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. But in the decade since, the factory, which makes the 787 Dreamliner, has been plagued by shoddy production and weak oversight that have threatened to compromise safety.

南卡羅來納州北查爾斯頓——2009年,波音公司(Boeing)在查爾斯頓附近的新廠破土動工時,曾宣揚這里是最先進的制造中心,將制造一款世界上最先進的飛機。但在接下來的十年里,這家生產787夢想客機的工廠一直受到做工粗糙和監管不力的困擾,危及航空安全。

A New York Times review of hundreds of pages of internal emails, corporate documents and federal records, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, reveals a culture that often valued production speed over quality. Facing long manufacturing delays, Boeing pushed its work force to quickly turn out Dreamliners, at times ignoring issues raised by employees.

《紐約時報》查閱了數百頁的內部電子郵件、公司文件和聯邦記錄,並對十幾名現任和前任員工進行了采訪,揭示出一個經常把速度放在質量之上的文化。面對長期的生產耽擱,波音敦促全體員工高速生產夢想客機,有時無視員工提出的問題。

Complaints about the frenzied pace echo broader concerns about the company in the wake of two deadly crashes involving another jet, the 737 Max. Boeing is now facing questions about whether the race to get the Max done, and catch up to its rival Airbus, led it to miss safety risks in the design, like an anti-stall system that played a role in both crashes.

對這種瘋狂速度的抱怨,與外界在另一個型號的波音737 Max客機發生兩起致命墜機事故之後對公司更廣泛的擔憂相呼應。波音現在面臨的問題包括,為了推出Max機型、趕上競爭對手空中客車(Airbus),是否導致了公司忽視設計上的安全風險,比如在兩起墜機事故中都起了作用的防失速系統。

Safety lapses at the North Charleston plant have drawn the scrutiny of airlines and regulators. Qatar Airways stopped accepting planes from the factory after manufacturing mishaps damaged jets and delayed deliveries. Workers have filed nearly a dozen whistle-blower claims and safety complaints with federal regulators, describing issues like defective manufacturing, debris left on planes and pressure to not report violations. Others have sued Boeing, saying they were retaliated against for flagging manufacturing mistakes.

北查爾斯頓工廠的安全漏洞已經引起了航空公司和監管機構的密切關注。在生產事故導致飛機受損、交付推遲之後,卡塔爾航空(Qatar Airways)不再接受來自這家工廠的飛機。工人們已向聯邦監管機構提交了10起以上的檢舉和安全投訴,描述了諸如制造缺陷、飛機里留有碎片,以及勸說員工不舉報違規行為等問題。還有些人起訴波音,稱他們因指出生產中的問題而遭到波音的報復。

Joseph Clayton, a technician at the North Charleston plant, one of two facilities where the Dreamliner is built, said he routinely found debris dangerously close to wiring beneath cockpits.

北查爾斯頓工廠是制造夢想客機的兩家工廠之一,該廠的技術員約瑟夫•克萊頓(Joseph Clayton)說,他經常在駕駛艙下方的線路附近發現危險的碎片。

“I’ve told my wife that I never plan to fly on it,” he said. “It’s just a safety issue.”

“我跟妻子說,我永遠不打算乘坐它飛行,”他說。“這單純是出于安全的考慮。”

In an industry where safety is paramount, the collective concerns involving two crucial Boeing planes — the company’s workhorse, the 737 Max, and another crown jewel, the 787 Dreamliner — point to potentially systemic problems. Regulators and lawmakers are taking a deeper look at Boeing’s priorities, and whether profits sometimes trumped safety. The leadership of Boeing, one of the country’s largest exporters, now finds itself in the unfamiliar position of having to defend its practices and motivations.

在一個安全至上的行業,涉及對波音至關重要的兩種機型——波音的主力機型737 Max,以及另一顆皇冠上的明珠787夢想客機——的集體擔憂,提出了潛在的系統性問題。監管者和立法者正在更深入地審視波音的優先事項,以及利潤是否有時比安全更重要。作為美國最大的出口商之一,波音的領導層現在發現自己正處于一種陌生境地,不得不為自己的行為和動機辯護。

“Boeing South Carolina teammates are producing the highest levels of quality in our history,” Kevin McAllister, Boeing’s head of commercial airplanes, said in a statement. “I am proud of our teams’ exceptional commitment to quality and stand behind the work they do each and every day.”

“波音南卡羅來納團隊正在造就我們歷史上最高水平的質量,”波音商用飛機部門主管凱文•麥卡利斯特(Kevin McAllister)在一份聲明中說。“我為我們的團隊對質量的非凡保證感到自豪,我支持他們每天每日所做的工作。”

All factories deal with manufacturing errors, and there is no evidence that the problems in South Carolina have led to any major safety incidents. The Dreamliner has never crashed, although the fleet was briefly grounded after a battery fire. Airlines, too, have confidence in the Dreamliner.

所有的工廠都要應對制造錯誤的問題,而且沒有證據表明南卡羅來納州的問題已導致了任何重大安全事故。雖然在電池起火後,夢想客機曾短暫停飛,但該機型從未發生過墜毀事件。航空公司也對夢想客機充滿信心。

On several planes, John Barnett, a former quality manager who worked at Boeing for nearly three decades and retired in 2017, discovered clusters of metal slivers hanging over the wiring that commands the flight controls. If the sharp metal pieces — produced when fasteners were fitted into nuts — penetrate the wires, he said, it could be “catastrophic.”

在波音工作了近30年、已于2017年退休的前質量經理約翰•巴內特(John Barnett)曾在幾架飛機上發現過懸掛在飛行控制系統線路上方的金屬薄片串。他說,如果這些鋒利的金屬碎片——它們是在將緊固件擰進螺母時產生的——穿透電線,那將是“災難性的”。

Mr. Barnett, who filed a whistle-blower complaint with regulators, said he had repeatedly urged his bosses to remove the shavings. But they refused and moved him to another part of the plant.

巴內特曾向監管機構提交過一份檢舉書,並說他曾多次敦促上司將這些金屬削片除去。但他們都拒絕了,還將他轉到了工廠的另一個部門。

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, Lynn Lunsford, said the agency had inspected several planes certified by Boeing as free of such debris and found those same metal slivers. In certain circumstances, he said, the problem can lead to electrical shorts and cause fires.

美國聯邦航空管理局(Federal Aviation Administration,簡稱FAA)發言人林恩•倫斯福德(Lynn Lunsford)說,FAA曾檢查過幾架波音認定沒有此類碎片的飛機,但發現了同樣的金屬碎片。他說,在某種情況下,這個問題可能導致電線短路並引發火災。

Officials believe the shavings may have damaged an in-service airplane on one occasion in 2012, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

據兩位知情人士透露,有關官員認為,2012年出現過一次運營中的飛機可能被這種削片損壞的事情。

‘It Could Have Locked Up the Gears’

“可能讓齒輪鎖住”

Less than a month after the crash of the second 737 Max jet, Boeing called North Charleston employees to an urgent meeting. The company had a problem: Customers were finding random objects in new planes.

第二架波音737 Max客機墜毀後不到一個月,波音曾將北查爾斯頓的員工召集起來,開了一次緊急會議。公司遇到了一個問題︰客戶在新飛機上發現了各種各樣的東西。

A senior manager implored workers to check more carefully, invoking the crashes. “The company is going through a very difficult time right now,” he said, according to two employees who were present and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

一位高級經理呼吁工人們更仔細地檢查飛機。他提到了墜機事件。據兩名要求不具名的在場員工表示,這名經理說,“公司目前正在經歷一段非常艱難的時期。”

So-called foreign object debris is a common issue in aviation. Employees are supposed to clean the bowels of the aircraft as they work, often with a vacuum, so they don’t accidentally contaminate the planes with shavings, tools, parts or other items.

所謂異物碎片,是航空制造業一個普遍存在的問題。工人應該在工作過程中隨時打掃飛機的內部,通常用真空吸塵器,這樣他們就不會把削片、工具、零部件或其他物品遺留在飛機內。

But debris has remained a persistent problem in South Carolina. In an email this month, Brad Zaback, the head of the 787 program, reminded the North Charleston staff that stray objects left inside planes “can potentially have serious safety consequences when left unchecked.”

但碎片仍然是南卡羅萊納工廠的一個長期問題。787項目負責人布拉德•扎巴克(Brad Zaback)在本月的一封電子郵件中提醒北查爾斯頓的工人,飛機內的遺留物“如果不加以控制,可能會帶來嚴重的安全後果”。

The issue has cost Boeing at other plants. In March, the Air Force halted deliveries of the KC-46 tanker, built in Everett, Wash., after finding a wrench, bolts and trash inside new planes.

這個問題已經讓波音的其他工廠付出了代價。今年3月,因為在新飛機內部發現了扳手、螺栓和垃圾,美國空軍停止了KC-46加油機的交付。這種飛機由華盛頓州埃弗雷特的工廠生產。

“To say it bluntly, this is unacceptable,” Will Roper, an assistant secretary of the Air Force, told a congressional subcommittee in March. “Our flight lines are spotless. Our depots are spotless, because debris translates into a safety issue.”

“坦率地說,這是不可接受的,”空軍助理部長威爾•羅珀(Will Roper)今年3月對國會的一個小組委員會說。“我們的停機坪和維修場都一塵不染。我們的機庫一塵不染,因為碎片意味著安全問題。”

Boeing said it was working to address the issue with the Air Force, which resumed deliveries this month.

波音說,公司正在與空軍方面一起努力解決這個問題,並已在本月恢復了飛機的交付。

At the North Charleston plant, the current and former workers describe a losing battle with debris.

在北查爾斯頓工廠,現任和前任員工描述了一場與碎片進行的失敗戰斗。

“I’ve found tubes of sealant, nuts, stuff from the build process,” said Rich Mester, a former technician who reviewed planes before delivery. Mr. Mester was fired, and a claim was filed on his behalf with the National Labor Relations Board over his termination. “They’re supposed to have been inspected for this stuff, and it still makes it out to us.”

“我在建造過程中發現過盛密封膠的軟管、螺母等東西,”曾在交付前檢查飛機的技術員里奇•梅斯特(Rich Mester)說。梅斯特已被解雇,一份就他解雇問題的代理申請已提交給了國家勞資關系委員會(National Labor Relations Board)。“他們本應該已檢查過這些東西,但我們還是看到了這些東西。”

Employees have found a ladder and a string of lights left inside the tails of planes, near the gears of the horizontal stabilizer. “It could have locked up the gears,” Mr. Mester said.

工作人員在機尾內的水平穩定器齒輪附近找到過一個梯子和一串燈。“這些東西可能讓齒輪鎖。 泵匪固廝。

A Pool of Nonunion Workers

非工會的工人後備

When it was unveiled in 2007, the 787 Dreamliner was Boeing’s most important new plane in a generation. The wide-body jet, with a lightweight carbon fiber fuselage and advanced technology, was a hit with carriers craving fuel savings.

2007年推出的787夢想客機曾是波音新一代飛機中最重要的機型。這款寬體客機采用了碳縴維輕型機身和先進技術,受到了希望節省燃油的航空公司的歡迎。

Airlines ordered hundreds of the planes, which cost upward of $200 million each. Spurred by high demand, Boeing set up a new factory.

航空公司訂購了數百架該型號的飛機,價格高達每架2億美元以上。在高需求的激勵下,波音建了一家新工廠。

North Charleston was ideal in many ways. South Carolina has the lowest percentage of union representation in the nation, giving Boeing a potentially less expensive work force.

北查爾斯頓在很多方面都很理想。南卡羅來納的工會代表比例是全美最低的,為波音提供了潛在成本更低的勞動力。

South Carolina doled out nearly $1 billion in tax incentives, including $33 million to train local workers. Boeing pledged to create 3,800 jobs.

南卡羅來納州還向波音提供了近10億美元的稅收優惠,其中包括用于培訓當地工人的3300萬美元。波音承諾創造3800個工作崗位。

While Boeing has nurtured generations of aerospace professionals in the Seattle area, there was no comparable work force in South Carolina. Instead, managers had to recruit from technical colleges in Tulsa, Okla., and Atlanta.

雖然波音公司已在西雅圖地區培養了幾代航空航天專業人才,但南卡羅來納州沒有類似的勞動力。所以,管理人員不得不從俄克拉荷馬州塔爾薩以及亞特蘭大的技術院校招人。

Managers were also urged to not hire unionized employees from the Boeing factory in Everett, where the Dreamliner is also made, according to two former employees.

據兩名前雇員說,波音還敦促管理者不要從埃弗雷特的波音工廠雇佣屬于工會的工人,埃弗雷特的工廠也造夢想客機。

“They didn’t want us bringing union employees out to a nonunion area,” said David Kitson, a former quality manager, who oversaw a team responsible for ensuring that planes are safe to fly.

“他們不想讓我們把工會員工帶到一個非工會地區,”前質量經理戴維•基特森(David Kitson)說,他曾領導一個負責確保飛機安全飛行的小組。

“We struggled with that,” said Mr. Kitson, who retired in 2015. “There wasn’t the qualified labor pool locally.” Another former manager, Michael Storey, confirmed his account.

“我們在這方面遇到了困難,”已于2015年退休的基特森說。“當地沒有合格的後備勞動力。”另一位前經理邁克爾•斯托里(Michael Storey)證實了基特森的說法。

The 787 was already running years behind schedule because of manufacturing hiccups and supplier delays. The labor shortages in North Charleston only made it worse.

由于制造問題和供應商的耽擱,波音787的生產已比原計劃落後了好幾年。北查爾斯頓的勞動力短缺問題讓情況變得更糟。

The initial excitement when the first Dreamliners entered service in late 2011 was short lived. A little more than a year later, the entire fleet was grounded after a battery fire on a Japan Airlines plane.

2011年底,首批夢想客機投入使用時的最初興奮是短暫的。剛過了一年多一點兒,日本航空(Japan Airlines)的一架飛機就發生了電池起火的問題,導致整個型號的飛機停飛。

Boeing was forced to compensate carriers, hurting profit. All the while, the production delays mounted, and Airbus was close behind with a rival plane, the A350.

波音被迫對航空公司進行賠償,這損害了它的利潤。與此同時,生產延誤加劇,空客也緊隨其後推出了競爭機型A350。

In North Charleston, the time crunch had consequences. Hundreds of tools began disappearing, according to complaints filed in 2014 with the F.A.A. by two former managers, Jennifer Jacobsen and David McClaughlin. Some were “found lying around the aircraft,” Ms. Jacobsen said in her complaint.

在北查爾斯頓,時間緊迫產生了後果。據前經理詹妮弗•雅各布森(Jennifer Jacobsen)和戴維•麥克勞弗林(David McClaughlin)在2014年向FAA提交的投訴,數百件工具開始消失。雅各布森在投訴書中說,“在機身的各個部位都找到過”一些工具。

The two managers also said they had been pushed to cover up delays. Managers told employees to install equipment out of order to make it “appear to Boeing executives in Chicago, the aircraft purchasers and Boeing’s shareholders that the work is being performed on schedule, where in fact the aircraft is far behind schedule,” according to their complaints.

這兩名經理還說,他們被要求掩蓋生產受到耽擱的問題。據這兩人的投訴書,經理們讓工人不按照順序安裝設備,以便讓飛機“在芝加哥的波音高管、飛機購買者和波音的股東們看來,工作正在如期進行,而實際上飛機的生產遠遠落後于日程表”。

The F.A.A. investigated the complaints and didn’t find violations on its visit to the plant in early 2014. But the agency said it had previously found “improper tool control” and the “presence of foreign object debris.”

FAA對這些投訴進行了調查,2014年初視察該工廠時沒有發現違規行為。但該機構表示,以前曾發現過“工具管理不當”和“出現異物碎片”等問題。

Both managers left after they were accused of inaccurately approving the time sheets of employees who did not report to them. They both claim they were retaliated against for flagging violations. Through their lawyer, Rob Turkewitz, they declined to comment.

這兩名經理都在被指控沒有準確地批報並非由他們負責的工人工作時間表後離開了公司。他們都稱自己因舉報違規做法而遭到報復。他們通過律師羅布•特克維茨(Rob Turkewitz)表示,拒絕對此文予以置評。

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for Boeing, said, “We prioritize safety and quality over speed, but all three can be accomplished while still producing one of the safest airplanes flying today.”

波音發言人戈登•約翰德羅(Gordon Johndroe)說,“我們把安全和質量放在速度之上,但在生產如今最安全飛機之一的過程中,這三個目標都能實現。”

Planes were also damaged during manufacturing. A Dreamliner built for American Airlines suffered a flood in the cabin so severe that seats, ceiling panels, carpeting and electronics had to be replaced in a weekslong process.

飛機也曾在制造過程中受損。一架為美國航空(American Airlines)制造的夢想客機的客艙遭受過洪水襲擊,工人不得不在一周的時間里更換座椅、天花板、地毯和電子設備。

Defective Parts Disappear

有缺陷的零件消失了

In the interest of meeting deadlines, managers sometimes played down or ignored problems, according to current and former workers.

據現任和前任工人說,為了在截止日期前完成任務,經理們有時淡化或忽視問題。

Mr. Barnett, the former quality manager, who goes by Swampy in a nod to his Louisiana roots, learned in 2016 that a senior manager had pulled a dented hydraulic tube from a scrap bin, he said. He said the tube, part of the central system controlling the plane’s movement, was installed on a Dreamliner.

曾任質量經理的巴內特(綽號“沼澤”,這是向他在路易斯安那州的根源致敬)說,他在2016年得知,一位高級經理曾從廢品箱中拿出一根有凹痕的液壓管。他說,液壓管是控制飛機運動的中央系統的一部分,那個管子安裝在了一架夢想客機上。

Mr. Barnett said the senior manager had told him, “Don’t worry about it.” He filed a complaint with human resources, company documents show.

巴內特說,那位高級經理對他說,“別擔心這個。”公司文件顯示,巴內特向人力資源部門進行了投訴。

He also reported to management that defective parts had gone missing, raising the prospect that they had been installed in planes. His bosses, he said, told him to finish the paperwork on the missing parts without figuring out where they had gone.

他還曾向管理層報告,有缺陷的零部件失蹤了,這增加了它們安裝在飛機上的可能性。他說,上司讓他完成了丟失零件的文書工作,但並沒讓他弄清楚零件的去向。

The F.A.A. investigated and found that Boeing had lost some damaged parts. Boeing said that as a precautionary matter, it had sent notices to airlines about the issue. The company said it had also investigated the flawed hydraulic tube and hadn’t substantiated Mr. Barnett’s claims.

FAA的調查發現,波音丟失了一些損壞的部件。波音說,作為預防措施,已向航空公司通報了這個問題。公司說,已對存在缺陷的液壓管進行了調查,未能證實巴內特的說法。

“Safety issues are immediately investigated, and changes are made wherever necessary,” said the Boeing spokesman, Mr. Johndroe.

“安全問題馬上得到調查,只要是有必要的地方都會作出改變,”波音發言人約翰德羅說。

But several former employees said high-level managers pushed internal quality inspectors to stop recording defects.

但幾名前雇員說,高層管理人員曾促使內部質量檢查員停止記錄缺陷問題。

Cynthia Kitchens, a former quality manager, said her superiors penalized her in performance reviews and berated her on the factory floor after she flagged wire bundles rife with metal shavings and defective metal parts that had been installed on planes.

曾擔任質量經理的辛西婭•基欽斯(Cynthia Kitchens)說,她指出了問題之後,比如線路捆上有大量金屬削片,有缺陷的金屬部件被安裝在了飛機上,她的上司在業績評估中懲罰她,還當著工人的面嚴厲斥責她。

“It was intimidation,” she said. “Every time I started finding stuff, I was harassed.”

“那是威脅,”她說。“每次我開始發現東西時,都會受到騷擾。”

Ms. Kitchens left in 2016 and sued Boeing for age and sex discrimination. The case was dismissed.

基欽斯于2016年離開了波音,並以年齡和性別歧視為由起訴了波音。法院沒有受理她的案子。

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