Letter: Aerospace: a divided company

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Indy Lifestyle Online
As an ex-BAe engineer, may I comment on BAe's management culture which you identify as the company's major weakness ("The spectacular ascent of British Aerospace", Business, 19 January).

It will come as no surprise to those of us who worked at the Kingston plant that Alice in Wonderland should be your chosen metaphor. The gulf between management and engineering was social, cultural and psychological. When in the late 1980s I and others attempted to introduce a computer database for quality control, we were told it was quite out of the question, as it would involve men typing and this was undignified. The only meeting to discuss the application of robots was terminated by a manager stating that there would be no need for change if only the workforce could be made to do an honest day's work.

My suggestion that we investigate how McDonnell-Douglas were able to build a Harrier using only two-thirds the man hours that we took, was peremptorily dismissed with the comment "the Americans can teach us nothing about aircraft".

When in the 1990s defeat was staring us in the face, measures that I hoped would improve working relations were dismissed as a betrayal of the great men who had founded Kingston.

Mike Browne

London W4

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