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NYT: How Boeing Made Speed More Important Than Quality; NYPD Makes Arrest In Viral TikTok Punching Case & Several Women On TikTok Report Being Punched in NYC; California Super Bloom Springs To Life After Rainy Winter. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 28, 2024 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Now a very troubling report out today from "The New York Times" about problems with quality and safety at Boeing.

The company is facing scrutiny after several incidents, including this one, that door plug that flew off an Alaska Airlines plane when it was at 16,000 feet earlier this year. The plug was missing bolts needed to secure to the fuselage.

"The Times" spoke with several current and former Boeing employees. One former engineer there and a safety expert saying, quote, "There's a lot of areas where things don't seem to be put together right in the first place. The theme is shortcuts everywhere."

A quality manager in Washington State, who left Boeing last year, telling "The Times" that workers assembling planes would sometimes try to install parts that had not been logged or inspected, trying to save time.

Another worker describing seeing wires being routed incorrectly, raising the risk that they could rub against one another resulting in damage. And said, quote, "Employees would sometimes go inspector shopping to find someone who would approve work."

This week, the Boeing CEO said he will be leaving at the end of the year.

We have Niraj Chokshi with us, one of "The Times" reporters on this story, a very good story.

Niraj, thank you for being with us.

And when you read this, I think what you and your colleagues really demonstrate is that this goes so far beyond door plugs. Tell us how widespread you found this pattern of shortcuts on all kinds of parts of these planes.

NIRAJ CHOKSHI, REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, thanks for having me. Yes, I think from our reporting what will be discovered is that there

are -- there appears to be a sort of a fraying or a straining of several separate layers along the process here.

Some of that is within Boeing's control, some of it isn't. The stuff that isn't, their suppliers are struggling at times. They, like many large companies, they lost a lot of people in the pandemic. They struggled to hire a lot of people back.

But some of it obviously is within their control and that's -- that's the quality control piece of this.

And so it seems like there's a lot kind of conspiring to kind of make -- make this a difficult moment for the company.

KEILAR: They lost a lot of people during the pandemic. And as you and your colleagues point out, some of that is Boeing's doing, right? There were these buyouts and they saw this dramatic shift or the workforce is significantly less experienced. Now, tell us about that.


CHOKSHI: Yes. I mean, I think -- I think it's important to remember some contacts. Right. And in April 2020, the number of people flying in the country, at one point, fell by 93 percent. You know, it did -- it did slowly start to recover and rebounded actually relatively quickly.

But in the industry, airlines, Boeing's major costumers all were sort of very worried that this might take a long time to come back. And so airlines and Boeing did everything they could to cut costs.

And, you know, one of their biggest costs, as with any company, is labor. And so by the end of 2020, Boeing had lost about 19,000 workers.

KEILAR: Yes. The number of years that they had been at Boeing dramatically shifted with those workers that they had lost. It's pretty stunning, as you outline it.

There was also one former worker describing this practice of self- inspections. How did that work? And tell us about this, even though it's been it seems largely eliminated, is there a bit of a hangover effect because it was in place with airplanes that are still -- they are now in the air?

CHOKSHI: Yes. Well, outside of their South Carolina factory, which is where they make the 78y7, the other sites Boeing says that about 10 percent of their inspections are still self-inspections.

Now, those aren't always concerning. Sometimes if it's -- it could be anything -- something you can say -- you can say, yes, that was painted. I took care of that.

But a lot of times, it may be stuff like, did you twist the nada tork (ph) nut? And that even -- even something like that, if you're doing it a dozen times a day or several dozen times a day, you know you might not catch them all. You might miss one. You might think you did it when you didn't. It always helps to have a second set of eyes looking over your shoulder.

KEILAR: Did any of the folks that you spoke with raise concerns from a traveler perspective, from -- people flying are going to read your report. They're going to wonder, can I feel safe in these airplanes?

CHOKSHI: Yes. You know, it's a fair question. The door plug incident, I think I showed that, while no one was seriously injured in that -- in that episode. I mean, if it had happened a few minutes later at a higher altitude with people walking around, people not having their seat belt on, it could have been catastrophic.

And so it's fair for travelers to wonder if they're safe. Some important context though to keep in mind is that we're in the safest period in aviation history in the U.S.

We haven't had a major crash in 15 years. It's a particularly good stretch. That's not to say that we should rest on our laurels.

The FAA has stepped up inspections of Boeing. And they've said it's not enough to just take -- take the safety record of the past 15 years at face value.

KEILAR: Yes. We want to keep going with that.

Niraj, great reporting. Thank you so much for being with us. Niraj Chokshi, with "The New York Times," we appreciate it.

CHOKSHI: Thank you.

KEILAR: Next, a suspect has just been arrested after multiple women come forward claiming to have been randomly punched while they we're walking around New York City. We'll have details ahead.

Plus, former crypto kingpin, Sam Bankman-Fried, has just been sentenced to 25 years in prison. We're going to talk to a prison consultant about what the former billionaire can expect behind bars.



JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: In New York City, a suspect has now been arrested for randomly assaulting a woman after his alleged victim recounted her story online. That video went viral.

Now, more women have come forward with similar stories, all of them claiming to have been punched by a man in broad daylight while walking in New York City


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face. Oh, my god. It was so bad. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was looking down and I was looking at my phone

and like texting, and then out of nowhere, this man just came up and hit me in the face.


DEAN: The NYPD says the suspect they've arrested has only been connected to one of the attacks. But they say they're looking into the string of incidents now being reported online.

Joining us to discuss further, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller, who was formerly NYPD deputy commissioner for intel and counterterrorism.

John, tell us what happened here.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT & INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, what we're seeing is people reaching out on TikTok and telling their stories.

Now last week, the NYPD was asked to look into three of these incidents because they were on social media. Found out that, of course, one of them had resulted in arrest, as reported, and that the other two had been reported where they were still seeking suspects.

But going on TikTok is not the way to report a crime, even though this is going to probably lead to more of those. It's important for people to come forward and call police.

Now I spoke to someone who was literally assaulted the same way months ago, and at the time, she said I didn't call police. And when I said, why not, she said, well, I wouldn't recognize the guy. He hit me from behind and he kept going and I didn't know what I would tell police when they got there.

Here's the thing. When they arrest one of those suspects in an assault where they we're able to get there in time and find them there -- and that happens quite often -- and they interview that person and that person admits to other assaults in other places, you need to have a record of that.


Because the D.A. won't take those charges if they don't have a witness or complainant. So this is an issue.

DEAN: In terms of people reporting things to the police.

And, John, it's also worth noting, with your background, you can speak to this. There are cameras all over New York City as well to support these women if they want to tell police about it. They didn't get a look at this guy. There may be a camera on that corner.

MILLER: That's very true. The first thing they do in an assault case is -- felony assault is to look around and say, where can we get the video, and that is standard practice? DEAN: And I also want to ask you what you make of this, just in a

larger context, this false perception that crime is rising, even though the FBI says that crime is down overall.

MILLER: Well, that's perception versus reality. And the political reality is perception is reality. People feel crime is rising because they're feeling more signs of disorder.

So look, in New York, crime is actually down from last year. If you compare New York to, you pick your city, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles Milwaukee, per capita, this is the safest major city in the country. But crime is up from where it was before the pandemic.

Now if you look at the issue here, stranger assaults, these are assault by random people against people they don't know, are up 13.9 percent. And this is where we see an intersection with issues of homelessness, issues of mental health.

It's very important to note that mentally ill people are no more likely to commit an act of violence than anybody else in society.

But in New York, where you have some people who are what the experts call treatment resist. They're trying to stay out of the hospital. They're trying to stay away from authorities. And yet they act out in these ways.

And you know, this week, we saw a man pushed in front of a train. And we hear about these assaults. The mayor's office has been pushing Albany to allow them to have more legal and medical legal powers to commit people and get them into treatment when they're a danger to themselves and others.

Even at this rate, without the law that the mayor is asking Albany to pass, they're doing 130 involuntary commitments a week involving police and medical personnel.

DEAN: All right. John Miller, thanks so much. Always good to see you.

It is the silver lining of California's incredibly wet winter, a super bloom. We're heading live to the very colorful west coast -- take a look -- right after this.



KEILAR: California's deserts are springing to life. A wetter-than- average winter has set the stage for a spectacular super bloom. Experts predicting that nature is putting on an excellent show with wildflowers already brightening the normally sandy brown landscape.

We have CNN's Stephanie Elam in Palmdale, California, on really the best assignment of the day with some glorious California poppies behind her.

It's quite this side, Steph, but these are no perennials. Do we know when the bloom might peak?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're just at the start of it. I wanted to make sure I gave you plenty of time. Brianna, so she could get home to California. Maybe your kids come visit, see it for yourself.

Because it is spectacular. Stop looking at me. Let's look at some beautiful poppies here.

California state flower, here on this hillside just taking over. And this is what part of a super bloom can look like. And the reason why it's a super bloom and why people get so excited out here is because it doesn't happen every single year. It all depends on the conditions.

There needs to be plenty of rain. And then those cool temperatures. And then that warmth that comes in. And it's just right. And the flowers are like, hello, we're here to see you again.

So when California is in those very dry, dry, drought years, those years we don't have super blooms. And you know, we go into those phases for a long time.

There was a lot of rain last year. So if you look at those satellite images from last year, you can see from space just how dense those carpets of color, kaleidoscope of color were in parts of California last year.

This year, we were kind of dry, but then, after January, we got some rain. So now we've got flowers.

Of course, one thing that happens is they start to compete with the grass here, but still take a look. If you come in a little bit closer with me, you can see that you've got the poppies down here, the California poppy, and then you've got a little yellow there. And you've got some purple here, too.

So there's more than just the orange here. But all together, when you look out to the landscape, you can see all of those colors. And it is just actually very stunning to see with your own eyes -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Yet we see that there are folks out there wandering amongst the wildflowers trying to get a look. Talk to us about the etiquette here, because it seems like you can peep these flowers but don't go picking them.

ELAM: Right. We want you to peep, come and commune with nature, right? Come out here. We want you to. There's rules though, you're right.


For one thing -- take a look -- I am on the trail. You've got to stay on the trail that's out there. Because these are very fragile ecosystems. And we want these flowers to come back every year that they can.

So we don't want to go crushing the petals. We don't pick the flowers. You know, we don't pick the poppies, right? We all remember that.

You don't pick the poppies and you don't pick any of the flowers. Enjoy that.

And wear your boots because I see people coming out here with their flip-flops on and there are snakes out here. There's tarantulas, there's wildlife out here. So when you come to see the wildflowers, protect yourself in that way as well.

Because there was a time, a couple of years ago, 2017, 2019, where people just inundated some fields in some of the California state parks, so much so that they shut them down for years following that because they we're just trying rambling through all the flowers and not protecting those ecosystems.

And that's not what they want to see happen here. So definitely, do go out there, come out and see all so this color, see all of these beautiful flowers. Just do it in a safe way. And then stay on the trails, which of course, you would do Brianna, but I'm not worried about you.

KEILAR: Of course, I would follow the rules.

Well, it is beautiful, Stephanie. And thank you so much for sharing it with us. Always enthusiastic about the flowers. And we appreciate that.

All right, so officials at the site of the Baltimore bridge collapse say recovery efforts have turned into a salvage mission as the NTSB gets access to the ship's data recorder.