Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787

Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787

2014, Technology  -   39 Comments
Ratings: 8.56/10 from 159 users.

The production of the Boeing 787 promised the next evolution in flight technology. Since its introduction, however, the plane has been fraught with crippling malfunctions. What's to blame for the potentially fatal mishaps of this one-time dream machine of the skies, and how much information is being hidden from an unsuspecting public?

The documentary Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787, produced by Al Jazeera, peeks behind the curtain to expose a troubling business model that places the lives of every day travelers at risk on a daily basis; one that is defined by compromised quality standards, operator error, and corporate cover-up.

Constructed by teams of manufacturers situated across the globe, the Boeing 787 was designed to be the most advanced commercial aircraft in the industry, and promised unparalleled comfort and fuel efficiency. It operates on a staggeringly complex electrical system - the foundation of which are its state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries.

Those batteries, in fact, have been fingered as one of the main culprits behind the airplane's misfortunes. Comprehensive independent studies had been conducted on the battery technology, and each had uncovered explosive instabilities that failed to meet operation standards. Boeing, who had been given free reign by the Federal Air Association (FAA) to conduct their own testing, reached an entirely different conclusion: the batteries harbored little to no risk of catching fire aboard an aircraft. But when two instances of mid-flight battery fires occurred within nine days of each other, the industry expressed grave concerns, and all 50 of the Boeing 787 models were eventually grounded in January of 2013. Only months later, a battery redesign ensured the aircraft could take flight once again.

Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787 presents convincing testimony from designers, engineers and company whistleblowers. They all contend that a series of issues exist that transcend volatile battery packs, including poor quality standards set in motion by irresponsible cost-cutting measures and restrictive scheduling considerations, errors in parts construction, rampant drug use, and a woefully under-trained and unregulated manufacturing and operating staff. These deficiencies work together to create a nightmare environment where human lives could be the ultimate cost.

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39 Comments / User Reviews

  1. drmax

    If you've ever visited Charleston SC, you would understand the work ethic of many people from there. Not where you'd want to have an airplane built and then expect to fly safely on it. I served 4 yrs USAF, there. Being from the midwest...could not wait to get out of there.

  2. suzanne petersen

    union workers wanted a dollar an hour raise and MC Donnell Douglas fat cats making millions decided it would be better to hire random people off the streets.

    1. Hank

      This is a Boing Plane and not built by McDonald Douglas or it's workers

    2. Joe Smith

      Hidden dangers abound.
      737 max, tanker, 777-x, 787.
      The price to be paid will be human lives.
      The money saved went into executive pay.
      No one goes to jail.

  3. suzanne petersen

    union workers wanted a raise that amounted to a dollar an hour and Mc Donnell Douglass fat cats making millions decided it would be best to grab random people off the street to build air planes.

  4. suzanne petersen

    Hiring former fast food workers to assemble planes to save money, after the jap battery debacle was inexcusable. All these people are riding the reefer and don't give a rat
    's ass what happens to this plane - you could say the plane is gauranteed to work for 5 minutes or until the dock door shuts behind its ass.

  5. suzanne petersen

    I rebuild old cars. Many of them, made in the USA, had the original batteries and they would 15 or 20 years old at that point and the cars started every time. Then the 5 year battery came out and worked great for 10 years. Now we have the 3, 2, and 1, year battery - and once the warranty expired these lemons were done for. In many cases, they lasted only a few months. What did they all have in common? First, Japan - and then China. So Boeing builds a state of the art plane and equips it with Japanese batteries. Guess what happens? Japan is not as horrible as they used to be, but one thing I can say for sure is that I will no longer go to Walmart and buy anything electrical, not even a freakin' heating pad, that could possibly catch on fire. Been burned too many times.

  6. Robert Duhamel

    This document is 100% UNION PROPAGANDA !

    I don't know if Al Jazeera did this on purpose but it lost a lot of credibility here...

    Conclusion of the video : if you fly on a Boeing 787, make sure it's UNION MADE otherwise your life is at risk.... I'll araise my links to Al Jazeera news and documentaries NOW !

    1. suzanne petersen

      your comment is confusing. first you say this video is union propoganda. then you say the plane should have been union made, and you are right about this. There is a reason that unions ultimately save money. If McDonnell Douglas executives had been able to comprehend this simple fact they could have had it built once, built right, and not become a world class embarrassment to Boeing.

  7. Val

    Ali Bahrami (and Obama) are deep plants of terrorist groups infiltrating Boeing to sabotage production in order to use the company to kill Americans and destroy our economy from within and make it look like "accidents".

  8. dan

    nothing said more about the plane than the bigshots bailing from the interview at the end of the documentary when the shit hit the fan. That said it all.

  9. Mac

    maxine you are one paranoid person. Stay home and lock your doors, flying through Boeing is perfectly safe lol.

  10. Mr Johnson

    Really scary @ 5.40 ...electronics tech forced to open door from the outside.

  11. kingofslugs

    @Fabien L'Amour.

    But that's just because people drive everyday to get to work making that a more likely place for them to die, it's the same reason most deaths happen within 5 miles of a person's work or home. I'd absolutely rather trust my own instincts than put my life in the hands of an airline/the TSA for travel within the continental US if I can help it but that's just me.

  12. Carlo

    What a bunch of cr*p. What unions can do to tarnish the image of a serious large company, with the help of a brown press. Unions should be more responsible with the people they represent and learn with the lessons from Detroit. Say that a plane built in a union shop has a better quality assurance is just Santa Claus.

  13. norton

    I have no connection with the Boeing Co. whatsoever. But it seemed to me that this documentary was financed by a rival. You can take a guess. Hundreds of thousands of technicians/engineers are working on this plane and you simply tear up all the efforts put by those people. I am mechanical engineer with a PhD degree specialized on structural dynamics and polymeric composite materials. I can understand the critiques on the batteries. But if u say "i can see through the wing structure" or the fuselage structure is nothing but "a shell", I can easily see your arrogant mindset who has no idea about the composite structures. I simply did not like this documentary. Hidden camera footage etc. should be featured in such technical documentaries.

  14. JohnG911

    This is just a union hit job.

  15. FollowTheFacts

    ....great job, I gave it eight. No easy task to make a documentary like this. I hope the A350 will not be known for problems like these (described in the film)

  16. windship

    There was once a day in some parts of the world when another aviation giant's name BOAC meant Better On A Camel. What will they call Boeing after the worst merger in aviation history? MacDonnell Douglas had a long history of getting gigantic public subsidies for it's military production, which helped finance public aviation. Imagine how hard it was to operate in the civilian market against competitors like Airbus for the world's plane orders. Cutting corners, busting unions and demoralizing workers, and paying executives far more than they are worth is not how any hi-tech company succeeds. It's how you destroy the public trust in something invisible that millions of people bet their lives on daily.

    1. pfir

      Well said.

  17. Patrick Adrien Varencaus

    i ear people say<>.......... wrong. Its the LOVE of $$$ is the ROOT of all evil and this docu.... Another proof in a zillion

    1. bluetortilla

      Naw. People always qualify that with the love thing to justify their greed and desire to acquire things. It's a hypocritical twist on the saying. You can't really love money anyway- any more than you can love heroin or cocaine. So it's more like lust.
      It's the idea that money could never be dispensable, that someday we'll no longer have a use for it; it's the unwillingness to believe in that idea that is blind and foolish evil.

  18. bluetortilla


  19. 31jetjet

    Yikes. If flying were that dangerous there would be crashes everyday.

    1. Fabien L

      "FAA finds Boeing Dreamliner could lose all power, issues maintenance mandate."
      CNN Tue May 5, 2015

      "Specifically, the FAA explained testing revealed that 787s could lose all AC electrical power after being continuously powered for 248 days, a problem that, if left unchecked, would leave an aircrew unable to control the plane."

      Looks like it's yet another real battery problem.

  20. Decibel

    This is awful, seriously..
    I suddenly appreciate the fact that i'm a student and can't afford to travel by plane at all.. LOL. What if one unknowingly entered I plane that was in some ways "built to fail" (to be harsh but truthful).. ?

    To play with peoples lives like this is not okay. We're not talking about a car that crashes (with possibility to survive), we're talking about a big fu**ing "truck- in-the-sky" that will most probably kill everyone on it..

    If I died because of Boeing 787, my gravestoone should probably read;
    "Thanks Boeing 787 for ruining my life" xD

  21. Maxine Godfrey

    Al Jazeera did a good job -- i know this, because the high mucky-mucks refused to speak to them but instead "crafted" a written reply denying all wrongdoing. i don't fly precisely because i'm very cynical -- i don't trust bureaucrats to run airlines and airline manufacturers; they will always cut corners so that their salaries stay high. they care as much about public safety as Lee Iacocca and Chrysler cared about the Pinto non-recall.

    1. Fabien L

      Hopefully you are aware that you stand much more chances of dying in a car crash than in a plane crash. In the U.S., lifetime odds of death are 1 in 82 in a car accident and 1 in 55078 in a plane crash. Rail and plane are much safer in terms of annual and lifetime odds than road when calculated in terms of deaths and total populations.

    2. Maxine Godfrey

      yeah, right. let me see you unbuckle your seatbelt and try to get out of a plane hurtling toward the surface of the earth. no matter the odds, you have a better chance of surviving a car crash than a plane or train crash. and a lot of the time, it depends on how much you trust the driver and the machinery. but i speak of cars as if they were "safe" -- don't get me wrong; i don't drive.

    3. Fabien L

      It really boils down to how many people do you know died in a car crash compared to the people you know that died in a plane crash. Simple statistics.

    4. Maxine Godfrey

      cars are local; planes are international. you're more likely to know people in cars than people in planes. statistics aren't really simple; there are tons of factors involved, and the books can be cooked, depending on how you look at the various stats.

    5. Fabien L

      I really don't know how you can cook the number of deaths in car accidents vs the number of deaths in plane crashes but feel free to believe whatever you want.

    6. Maxine Godfrey

      gee, thanks!

    7. John Techwriter

      Pinto was a Ford product, not Chrysler.

    8. Maxine Godfrey

      you're right -- Unsafe At Any Speed!

    9. John Techwriter

      Ralph Nader wrote "Unsafe at Any Speed" about Chevrolet's Corvair.

      Keep trying.

    10. Maxine Godfrey

      i had the "pleasure" of riding as a passenger in a corvair -- it backfired constantly. luckily, that's all it did.

      "Keep trying." -- lol that's really funny. if it weren't me you were laughing at, i'd find it funny. no, in all seriousness, i DO find it funny. mea culpa.

    11. mitchmiller

      At Ford and then Chrysler, Iacocca had been a major player on auto safety. The 1973 deadline for automatic restraints was rescinded after he and Henry Ford 2d met secretly in 1971 with President Nixon, called the regulation an onerous burden in light of the growing competition from imports and touted instead auto ignition systems that worked only after the seat belt was buckled.

      According to government studies the failure to have shoulder belts in rear seats, may have caused as many as 6,000 deaths and serious injuries per year. In early 1970’s NHSTA proposed shoulder belts in all out board seating positions, but Lee Iacocca as president of Ford and other industry executives successfully lobbies President Richard Nixon to block the implementation of such regulations. During these debates, Iacocca stated that the shoulder belts and headrests was “a complete waste of money” even though he said, “no doubt that it saves lives.” Years later, Lee Iocacca in his autobiography, stated “the plain truth is that if you are wearing a combined shoulder and lap belt system, its almost impossible to be killed in an impact under 30 mph.”

    12. Maxine Godfrey

      nice work, mitchmiller. you really followed the ball! i appreciate that. when i think of animals like Iacocca and Nixon, i wish there were a place of eternal damnation, because it's so fitting.