The Woke Crowd Won't Like Sully Sullenberger's Advice for Fixing Boeing - Total Opposite of DEI


I used to travel with someone who performed the ritual of briefly touching the exterior of the plane as he boarded. He said it made him feel safer, for some reason. He literally did this every time.

Maybe it was a good thing, because if the door was held on by dental floss today, this passenger would have known ahead of the game given he was flying a plane made by Boeing.

What is happening is gobbstopping. It leaves no flyer feeling safe, despite even what C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger told Katy Tur on MSNBC’s “Katy Tur Reports.”

In 2009, Sullenberger was hailed as a hero for his lifesaving actions as the captain of the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight in which he made an emergency landing on the New York river. All 155 people aboard survived.

During an interview Thursday, he told Tur that he continues to remain comfortable flying because of all that actually does go right. But frankly, all it takes is for you to be on the one flight that goes wrong and it’s very likely over. That is the fact that plenty will concentrate on over everything else.

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Tur brought on Sullenberger, who is the former U.S. ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization, to discuss what has been happening over at Boeing.

The number of incidents Boeing has racked up regarding unsafe planes continues to mount. These include issues such as wheels falling off, loose hardware, flames spewing midflight, sudden drops, door plug blowouts and emergency oxygen system failures.

It isn’t as if Boeing didn’t know about this either. According to Fox News, whistleblower John M. Barnett, a long-term Boeing quality manager, disclosed how the company’s upper management pressured him and other quality personnel to violate “Federal Aviation Administration Standards and Regulations, as well as Boeing’s processes and procedures by not properly documenting and remedying defects.”

Barnett has since taken his own life, which remains a bit suspect in the opinions of friends and family as well as his attorney, Robert Turkewitz. That will seemingly take some unraveling, in the opinion of this writer, as we watch the upper C-Suite unravel at Boeing. Already, CEO Dave Calhoun has announced that he will be leaving at the end of the year and many are following behind, according to Reuters.

Which is more important to America’s future?

Sullenberger told Tur in their interview that the company had always been an engineering company first. That is where it needs to return to. He noted its management needs to reframe the company philosophy and culture, reinvesting in engineering and thinking less about profits.

Sullenberger seems to believe that putting engineering and safety measures first is the most cost-effective and profitable approach for Boeing. And having leadership that favors engineering and safety over the bottom line is imperative.

The leadership undoubtedly shapes the culture, and that is in every company, Sullenberger pointed out.

“I lay much of the blame at the feet of the board and their latest CEOs. They need to have people there who are engineers and who understand the need for engineering excellence,” he said.

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In his conversation with Tur, he recognized how unforgiving aviation can be. One wrong move can be catastrophic and life-altering, with a ripple effect that spans many.

Sullenberger said numerous intelligent things. He was quite honest in his interpretation and clarity on the importance of investing in people, processes, engineering and safety. Never once did he mention the need for “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives when crafting a game plan to keep people from falling out of the sky.

His words sounded eerily similar to the definition of whiteness recently unveiled in guidelines set forth by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. According to Newsweek, “a graphic in those guidelines, also known as ‘Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness in the United States‘, declares that rational thinking and hard work, among others, are white values.”

Frankly, anyone who isn’t Caucasian should be insulted. I don’t think Sullenberger was trying to insult anyone. I think the Smithsonian graphic certainly does, however.

DEI initiatives at baseline compromise optimal staffing. With regards to Boeing and its own DEI initiatives, not only does it compromise optimal staffing, but if not rolled back and then eliminated, DEI could end up costing innocent lives.

The only thing DEI does is to reward and invite failure into the corporate structure. This is what Sullenberger was saying without saying it. In order to put all passengers safely and confidently in the friendly skies, we need the best of the best in people, practices and measures underneath. His statement was blunt and unequivocal.

And it was right. When priorities are misaligned, everything else will be misaligned. Boeing is no exception but an example of this.

If you had to trust your life or your children’s lives to a machine, would you rather it be built by the best engineers or the most diverse team? That answer, I wish for everyone.

I’m actually flying with my son this Thursday. Your prayers are welcome.

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Laura J. Wellington is an award-winning children's television creator, author, blogger and technology entrepreneur. A TED Speaker, she is the founder of the THREAD MB blog as well as the ZNEEX app, combining new friendships and walking on the local level.
Laura J. Wellington is an award-winning children's television creator, author, blogger and technology entrepreneur. A TED Speaker, she is the founder of the THREAD MB blog as well as the ZNEEX app, combining new friendships and walking on the local level.