Boeing workers still scared to raise safety concerns, say FAA-appointed experts

Lauren Rosenblatt, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

Boeing was losing experienced engineers able to “adequately” assess safety requirements and processes, and not hiring new ones to keep up, the panel found. Members of the ODA unit outside Boeing’s Puget Sound headquarters felt isolated and less supported in their work.

Most concerning to the panel, the experts told Congress on Wednesday, was that those employees tasked with certifying tasks on behalf of the FAA felt the same “disconnect” other Boeing employees had described about prioritizing safety and fears of retaliation.

The managers who had access to information about safety investigations also made decisions about promotions and job transfers. Some employees told the panel they did not receive a raise they had been expecting after bringing up safety concerns.

Contractors on the ODA unit felt their job scrutiny hinged on positive reports, the panel found.

Boeing said Wednesday retaliation is strictly prohibited.

In 2021 and 2022, Boeing took steps to change the structure of its self-certifying program but, the report found, those changes haven’t been fully implemented.


The company and the FAA have also overruled findings from those employees in charge of certifying work and raising concerns, the panel found. At the same time, the FAA had asked some workers to report on areas that are beyond “formally delegated functions.”

In a statement Wednesday, a spokesperson for the FAA said the agency “agrees with and is addressing all the recommendations … from the expert ODA panel.”

Confusion among Boeing employees

The panel also found that while Boeing had several mechanisms in place for employees to raise issues, the process was confusing for workers on the ground. Those employees didn’t trust the systems would lead to change.


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