"I didn't dream all this up," Hart-Smith, who is retired, told me from his home in his native Australia. "I'd lived it at Douglas Aircraft."
As an engineer at McDonnell-Douglas' Long Beach plant, he said, he saw how extensive outsourcing of the DC-10 airliner allowed the suppliers to make all the profits but impoverished the prime manufacturer.
"I warned Boeing not to make the same mistake. Everybody there seemed to get the message, except top management."
The company's unions have also kept singing an anti-outsourcing chorale. "We've been raising these questions for five years," says Tom McCarty, the president of the Boeing engineers' union. "How do you control the project, and how do you justify giving these major pieces of work to relatively inexperienced suppliers? There's no track record of being able to do this."
It would be easier to dismiss these concerns as those of unions trying to hold on to their jobs if they hadn't been validated by the words of Boeing executives themselves. A company spokeswoman told me that it's not giving up on outsourcing — "we're a global company," she says — but is hoping for a "continued refinement of that business model." Yet Albaugh and other executives acknowledge that they've blundered.