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The AMRAAM Incident

Now that Goodearl had few sympathizers among upper management, she increasingly turned to Ruth Ibarra in Quality assurance for support in her concerns about test skipping and the falsification of paperwork.

One day, Goodearl noticed that some AMRAAM chips with leak stickers were left on her project desk in the environmental testing area. The leak stickers meant that the seal on the chips' supposedly airtight enclosure had failed a test to see if they leaked. AMRAAM meant that the chips were destined to be a part of an Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile. Goodearl knew that these parts could not be retested and needed to be simply thrown away. So why was someone keeping them? She also knew that these were officially "hot parts" and that the company was behind schedule in shipping these parts.

After consulting with Ruth Ibarra, the two of them decided to do some sleuthing. They took the chips and their lot travelers to a photocopy machine and made copies of the travelers with "failed" noted on the leak test. They then replaced the chips and their travelers on the desk. Later that day, as Don LaRue passed the desk, Goodearl asked Don LaRue if he knew anything about the chips. "None of your business," he replied. The chips disappeared, and later the travelers showed up in company files with the "failed" altered to "passed." So, Goodearl and Ibarra had clear evidence (in their photocopy of the "failed" on the traveler) that someone was passing off failed chips to their customers. And these were important chips, part of the guidance system of an air-to-air missile.