Boeing’s Safety Culture Criticized by FAA-Appointed Panel

Boeing’s Safety Culture Criticized by FAA-Appointed Panel

A safety review study of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), ordered by Congress after the 737 MAX crisis, revealed serious problems with Boeing’s safety culture and practices. The study, conducted by a panel of experts appointed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was released on Tuesday.
The 50-page report1 found that Boeing’s senior management and other employees had different views on safety culture, and that some employees feared retaliation for reporting safety issues. The report also found that Boeing’s Safety Management System (SMS), which is supposed to ensure safety throughout the organization, was complex, confusing, and constantly changing, making it hard for employees to understand their roles and responsibilities.

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The panel also examined Boeing’s Organization Designation Authorization (ODA), which is a privilege granted by the FAA that allows Boeing to perform some certification tasks on behalf of the regulator. The panel found that Boeing’s ODA structure, while improved, still had opportunities for interference and pressure from non-ODA managers, who had more influence on the employees’ performance and compensation.

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The panel also identified other safety-related issues at Boeing, such as insufficient human factors consideration and lack of pilot input in aircraft design and testing. The panel made several recommendations to Boeing and the FAA to address these issues and improve Boeing’s safety culture and performance.
The report comes as Boeing is trying to recover from the 737 MAX crisis, which resulted in the grounding of the global fleet for 21 months, and the 787 quality issues, which led to the suspension of deliveries and inspections by the FAA. The report also adds to the scrutiny and criticism that Boeing and the FAA have faced from lawmakers, regulators, and the public over their handling of the 737 MAX certification and accidents.

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