Flashback: Boeing Outsources 737 MAX Software to $9-an-Hour Engineers
Boeing has been under fire lately for several deadly crashes involving its 737 Max aircrafts in 2019.
Bloomberg did a report back in 2019 spilling the beans on what potentially could have caused these crashes.
According to Boeing engineering veterans, the software mistakes that led to the deadly crashes, were allegedly the result of “a push to outsource work to lower-paid contractors.”
The Max software was developed when Boeing was down-sizing and cutting experienced engineers. The aerospace company was also pressing suppliers to cut costs.
According to Mark Robin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the Max, recent college graduates working for Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. occupied several rows of desks in offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field.
The HCL coders were usually making designs according to specifications from Boeing. However, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Rabin claimed. Frequently, he recalled, “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”
Boeing’s work with Indian companies had appeared to reap the company many benefits. Over the years, the company won several contracts for Indian military and commercial aircraft, for example, a $22 billion one in January 2017 to supply SpiceJet Ltd. That order featured 100 737-Max 8 jets and marked Boeing’s largest order ever from an Indian airline. This was significant given that Airbus has traditionally dominated in India.
Based on resumes published on social media, HCL engineers helped develop and test the Max’s flight-display software, while employees from another Indian company, Cyient Ltd., dealt with software for flight-test equipment.
“Boeing was doing all kinds of things, everything you can imagine, to reduce cost, including moving work from Puget Sound, because we’d become very expensive here,” said Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing flight controls engineer who was laid off in 2017. “All that’s very understandable if you think of it from a business perspective. Slowly over time it appears that’s eroded the ability for Puget Sound designers to design.”
Rabin, the former software engineer, recalled one manager saying at a meeting that Boeing didn’t require the services of senior engineers because its products were allegedly “mature.”
Rabin, who was laid off in 2015, said, “I was shocked that in a room full of a couple hundred mostly senior engineers we were being told that we weren’t needed.”
Other aerospace engineers have commented on Boeing’s cutthroat business policies.
“Engineering started becoming a commodity,” claimed Vance Hilderman, who co-founded a company called TekSci that supplied aerospace contract engineers and began to lose work to overseas competitors in the early 2000s.
U.S.-based avionics companies offshore aggressively by shifting more than 30% of their software engineering abroad in contrast to 10% for European-based firms in recent years, said Hilderman, an avionics safety consultant with multiple decades of experience.
Hilderman also spilled the beans on the wage gaps between America and countries like India.
Bloomberg noted the following:
Engineers in India made around $5 an hour; it’s now $9 or $10, compared with $35 to $40 for those in the U.S. on an H1B visa, he said. But he’d tell clients the cheaper hourly wage equated to more like $80 because of the need for supervision, and he said his firm won back some business to fix mistakes.
Boeing remains relevant given its role in the military-industrial complex. On top of that, 2024 presidential aspirants like Nikki Haley sit on its Board of Directors.
This brings up questions about a potential conflict interest. It’s no secret that Haley has hawkish views on foreign policy. Given her position at Boeing, she will likely push for interventionist policies abroad that would boost Boeing’s stock and create an artificial demand for aircraft and other equipment.
To add insult to injury, Boeing has embraced full-blown globalism by outsourcing jobs, as Middle America is stuck with funding never-ending wars and seeing their jobs shipped overseas.
This is a winning scenario for the globalist elite in D.C. But for Middle America, it’s a total disaster.