Goodrich Company was suspected of publishing falsified qualification report of its new-designed aircraft brake for the A7D. Kermit Vandiveer, a data analyst and technical writer in Goodrich, was ordered by the executives to issue a false qualification report. Initially, Vandiveer refused and got support from his supervisor. However, under the pressure he had to offered artificial graphic presentation in the report. After the failing flight test, Vandiveer disclosed the misconduct and fraud of Goodrich and turned into a government witness in the litigation. Vandiveer faced dilemmas throughout the case: to follow his personal value and professional responsibility to refuse unethical action or to follow the managers’ order to keep the job; and to keep loyalty to the company or to be a whistleblower to disclose the fraud. In general, Vandiveer behaved by his personal values. However, some actions by Vandiveer are open to question. Visibility: Vandiveer was admired and supported by the public for his courage to do right thing though losing his job and suffering the possible prosecution. In some sense, Vandiveer betrayed his company as a whistleblower. However, his disclosure prevented a worse consequence of engineering fraud. Generality: Vandiveer set an example to guide others who in the similar situation. When there are conflicts with self-interest and ethics, the one will be expected to behave following the moral principle. However, it does not mean personal interest retreat constantly. Voice will be a better decision in such situation. Legacy: Vandiveer has a positive image when people talk about the aircraft brake scandal. He did not obey his inner sense and would be trusted by others in his future life.
A summary of the Important Facts
All stories caused by a contract issued on June, 18, 1967, by LTV Aerospace Corporation with Goodrich Company to order wheels and brakes for the new Air Force plane. For Goodrich, it seemed destined to be an unusual contract. Goodrich won this contract by a competitively low bid and, more importantly, the innovative technical design of relatively small brake which containing four disks and weighing only 106 pounds. During the one year for design and test, Goodrich told LTV that all about the brake program was well. A qualification report was published and submitted to Air Force and LTV to show that the brake passed specified qualifying test. Contrary to what Goodrich guaranteed in the report, the flight test in the last two weeks of June, 1986 failed. Followed the flight test failure, a litigation testified by Kermit Vandiveer, a former employee of Goodrich, Air Force and GAO, regarding falsification of the qualification test report, disclosed what happened in the year before the actual flight test, which now known as “Aircraft Brake Scandal”. The event, so to speak, implicated widely. From executives to employees, these people more or less involved in the fraud. Searle Lawson, the young design engineer on A7D brake and graduated only one year, was the one who first found and pointed out the design deficiency of the brake after several tests and computations. Later, he prepared the various engineering curves and graphic displays for the qualification report with Kermit Vandiveer, the data analyst and technical writer. In the litigation, Lawson supported Vandiveer’s testimony as a government witness. As a key figure in the event, although Vandiveer offered false graphic presentation after difficult self-struggle, he eventually turned into whistleblower to accuse Goodrich. Ralph Gretzinger, the test lab supervisor, initially opposed a falsified qualification report but knuckle under to the pressure of his supervisor in the Technical Services section, Russell Line. In addition, Russell Van Horn, the manager of the design engineering section, Robert Sink, the A7D project manager, and Bud Sunderman, the chief engineer for Goodrich, all of them ordered someone...
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