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Boeing Employees’ Safety Independence Under Scrutiny by U.S. FAA

U.S. aviation regulators are opening a new review of Boeing Co. after a survey of company engineers found a sizable percentage said they couldn’t raise safety concerns without interference. A survey conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration from May through July found that 35% of Boeing employees raised issues of conflicts of interest and a lack of independence, according to an Aug. 19 letter from the head of the agency division overseeing the company. The FAA action is the latest to look… ( More...

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DGR Rathborne 7
This story , this revelation , by Boeing staff , is the same as any agency , goverment or , for example , a Police force ,that is responsible for watching it's self . Eventually the manipulation and burial of info will come to light .
Then we , as a society , are aghast at the disclosure . But really , when we think about , it is of no surprise , that an organization that has been given the right to handle its' own affairs , will bend , break , bury and deny its bad behaviour . For myself , it is a sad day when a Company ,such as Boeing ,that has had such a stellar reputation , has been dragged into the same muck as others . But thats life . If it sells aircraft ,then the end ,justifies the means .
Bob Denny 3
@DGR Rathbone - In the old days, including at Boeing, one of the most respected and critical jobs was that of inspector. I grew up around aviation and my Dad told me once “You can learn everything you need to know about an aircraft company by talking to their inspectors.” I know from talking with several retired Boeing inspectors that the culture there looks at inspectors as barriers to delivery not safety and quality assurance people. Awful.
john bramble 1
I was a insperctor for mcair then boeing during EMD hornet testing, if we had a concern we took it up to the QA forman then his boss would fight it out with the production super. never would a unsafe plane leave our care. period... the navy did not stand for unsafe products.
john bramble 1
I remember when Boeing decided to make the inspection dept fall under production, that lasted about 2 hrs when NAVAIR put the squash to any talk about that. Production and QA will always be separate departments being active duty or contractor
DGR Rathborne 1
Hello Bob , The same bench mark is often true for the airlines . The quality of an airline often falls on the quality of the staff inspectors , within the maintenance departments . But here again , the failings of inspectors , and quality of mainatnence often is exposed as poor when the airline suffers an accident . Then when the National Inspectors come in to see what happened , such as the NTSB , the short comings are publicly exposed . It is often a major blow to the airlines . But in the airline that my family worked for , they strived for the best . I'm not saying that short cuts or cost doesn't often get involved in the duties of inspectors . But when a company just simply over rides the inspectors and just has them rubber stamping documents , then there is a corparate failure . This situation must be changed ....Thanks for your reply Bob .......DGR
Jeff Phipps 2
"For myself , it is a sad day when a Company ,such as Boeing ,that has had such a stellar reputation , has been dragged into the same muck as others." I think you have been naive or simply not listening (reading) to say this. Boeing has been accused of this for years and does not have a "stellar reputation" when it comes to covering up issues of safety, putting undo pressure on regulators, politicians, and playing fairly with other companies. They are indeed like other companies that are trying to make a profit.
DGR Rathborne 8
Hello Jeff , Thanks for your reply . I have taken it to heart your comments and would like to reply . I've been alive for a while ,and had the good fortune of growing up in an airline family . I remember the days , of prototypes of the 720 and 747 and many others . In those days , when Boeing operated under the oversight of the FAA , Boeing produced not only good aircraft , but when they said their aircraft where safe , you could beat the house on it . It was a similar story for airforce models , like , for instance , the B-52 . The quality and safety that went into a Boeing aircraft , was highly regarded and often above reproach . I'm thoughtful about my comments , and i am not just shooting off my mouth . But Boeings recent calamities involving multiple models both civilian and military , shows that something has really changed . Jeff ,i don't beleive that i am nieve . I'm just looking back over what ways a stellar reputation , to what is now suspect . But thank-you Jeff for your response .........DGR
Dx Houck 3
Honor's dead; whistleblowers get punished. Sad.
Boeing needs to wake up ! Only through transparency they can get better , problem is that Boeing driven by making dividends for the investor , this is the recipe for failure .
Things just get worse and worse for Boeing!
Safety isn't profitable. Read up on 'Monte Carlo Simulations', and realize that in the bowels of all corporations is an office where they ask the question, 'How many could be injured or killed, and is it profitable at this point to redesign the product to save more lives'. The idea being, if they estimate that a small number of human beings will be injured and/or killed, they won't spend the time and money to redesign the product.

Often they are right, and the carnage isn't over their estimate, but occasionally they are off by quite a bit, and the corporate lawyers kick in to mitigate the damage to investors.

A corporation will gladly spend millions of dollars to keep cases tied up in court than allow a case to result in a precedent for follow-on cases that might bankrupt them, and possibly cost management jobs...

And in the plane business, they probably have those conversations quite a bit about their products, and more often about the conditions they are assembled.

'That change will cost us millions, yet if it fails, it will only cost us thousands.' Yikes...
Mark Kanzler 1
If they built safer and safer planes, at some point, you would stop flying on them and opt for the less expensive planes that were always considered safe.

Passengers won't pay the ticket prices and will not put up with things like riding backwards and other safety measures after a certain threshold.
btweston -3
Yep. Capitalism at work.
Dean Brossman 10
One bad example does not mean the system does not work. The problem here is that the ODA is a Boeing organization, it should be an FAA organization. It used to be.
Art Jackson 8
Dean, the problem is that the FAA isn’t staffed to take on that level of work. That’s why the ODA exists in the first place.
Dean Brossman 9
As the Airworthiness authority in this country, they should be.
Roy Hunte 4
Hear hear!
I agree fully.
And all of our food supply should be thoroughly inspected/tested and all the cargo coming into the country should be searched and...
Is the ODA comprised of union employees, non-union employees, or both?
One bad example is an INDICATION That it's not working like it should. Boeing, if nothing else, should be afraid of putting **ANY** influence on **ANY** employee who might want to report a potential safety issue.

One company I worked at had a red button, and their 'policy' was that if any employee had a 'safety issue', they could push the button and stop the line. 'No questions asked'.

Then they decided to speed up the line, and also introduce an 'engineering change', and people started pushing that button. After nearly a month, the button disappeared, and people were reassigned rather than listen to them bitch about the failures, and problems on the line. People started staging injuries to show how unsafe the conditions were, but the union was co-opted by management, and I ended up quitting. Then, they lost their Ford contract. Apparently the issues were so severe, even Ford quit them. After a few years, the company went bankrupt. Good riddance, but it cost a lot of good people their jobs, and futures.

Capitalism is another way of saying 'socialism', because there is ALWAYS someone making money, and ALWAYS someone slaving to create it for them. A Colorado politician lied about her husband's 'work', and lied about their 'restaurant' buying a plane, and guess who suffers. It ain't her, or her spawn...

Capitalism, RUNAWAY capitalism, is just as big of a danger as communism, hard core socialism, and tons of other 'isms'. Someone always pays, no matter what it is...
When Boeing passed over Mulaly for the GE finance guys and moved the headquarters to Seattle that was the beginning of the end. Problem is it continues to this day with Calhoun.
DGR Rathborne 1
Hello to all . I'd like to make a general observations on the comments that have been left by others .When i 1st joined the FlightAware news letter , the discussions where sensible .. Then the comments fell into conspiracy and anti government retoric . At this point it was clear to me , that the lovers of all things aviation ,were not around . So i stopped replying and reading the FlightAware articles . But it is nice to see a return to a polite discussion . Thats my general observation for what it's worth , DGR
David Linton 1
I worked with Boeing throughout the 80's and 90's as a supplier of flight controls and electric power. They were obsessed with safety and viewed it as central in their culture. They were led by aerospace engineers and aircraft designers like Alan Mulally who I had the privelege to meet with several times. I view their problem as a cultural one that started with the leadership change. Look at who the board brought into the organization and look what happened to the culture. Same as the culture of the company they came from. The new leqaders were not builders of businesses due to outstanding engineering and love of aviation, they are cost cutters and 6 Sigma black belts. People are not viewed as assets, they are viewed as expenses. It is terribly sad to see. Boeing is an American icon and has always represented the best in american ingenuity and integrity. It is very hard to restore that image once it becomes tarnished.
If commercial airplanes were crashing at the same rate now as they did in the early 1990's, airliners would be going down once a week. They are doing something right.
DGR Rathborne 1
David , thanks for your insight . It must be heart breaking to see the drastic change that you witnessed . I sense that you felt a great joy in working for ,or suppling Boeing and had much pride in being with or affiliated with Boeing . But if i may say this about the Corporate leadership . Is it not possible , that the # of certification problems , they slipped by the FAA ,, is not just bad business , but criminally libel ? By the way i know the company that " they " came from . At that company , they suffered some catastrophic crashes . But thanks for sharing ...........DGR
wtwisniewski 1
Has letting foxes manage henhouses ever been a good idea?


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