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Published on February 27, 2024
Boeing Acknowledges Need for Enhanced Safety Culture Amid Scrutiny and Calls for OverhaulSource: Horizon206, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

A recent report has brought to light the ongoing struggles within Boeing's safety culture, highlighting a gap between management and the employees who are tasked with keeping aircraft manufacturing up to the mark. Experts, convened to assess the aerospace giant, have voiced that while there have been improvements, Boeing has yet to reach the necessary heights.

Ordered by Congress as part of 2020 legislation aiming at overhauling how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifies new aircraft, this critical study comes in the wake of a serious incident involving an emergency door panel on an Alaska Airlines jet. In the report, cited by ClickOrlando, the experts note that the company's safety training and procedures are in a constant state of flux, which leads to confusion among the employees tasked with ensuring the integrity of the planes.

Scrutiny over Boeing's internal practices was magnified following the catastrophic crashes of two 737 Max jetliners, which claimed the lives of 346 people. After these tragedies, there was palpable concern amongst Congressional critics that Boeing managers had imposed undue pressure on employees signing off work for the FAA—work that is essential in keeping planes safe for the skies. According to a statement obtained by ClickOrlando, Boeing has acknowledged the need for further improvement, admitting that, "We’ve taken important steps to foster a safety culture that empowers and encourages all employees to share their voice. But there is more work to do."

In their assessment, the panelists have affirmed some progress made by Boeing in the area of worker protection, as they stated in a GJ Sentinel article that "the restructuring, while better, still allows opportunities for retaliation to occur." This speaks to a sticking point uncovered by the experts, who found that engineering employees, responsible for the FAA-delegated oversight, reportedly still operate under fear of retaliation, particularly regarding issues that might delay production or certification processes.

Driving the point home, the FAA-commissioned report made it crystal clear, as reported by The Seattle Times, that there exists "a disconnect" between upper management and those on the engineering front lines at Boeing. It goes so far as to offer more than 50 recommendations to elevate the company's safety practices to meet legal standards, asserting that those at the helm must prioritize and imbue a "commitment to safety above all other priorities."