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Boeing staff confused on safety reporting: US study

NEW YORK (AFP) Boeing employees are confused and distrustful of changes to safety reporting systems implemented by the aerospace giant after fatal plane crashes in 2018 and 2019, according to a US report released Monday.

The report pointed to a “disconnect” between senior company management and other Boeing employees and skepticism that safety complaints by workers would not result in retaliation, according to an expert panel appointed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The procedures and training are complex and in a constant state of change, creating employee confusion especially among different work sites and employee groups,” said an executive summary.

The analysis comes as Boeing faces intensified scrutiny following a January 5 Alaska Airlines emergency landing that led to a temporary grounding of some Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

The US Congress ordered the analysis in a 2020 law after fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline crashes on 737 MAX planes. The report’s scope did not include the Alaska Airlines incident, although the summary alluded to “serious quality issues” that surfaced during the report that “amplified” the panel’s concerns.

(FILES) Miniature models of Boeing aircraft including the 737 Max (front) are displayed at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore on February 21, 2024. PHOTO: AFP

The analysis identified 27 points of concern and offered 53 recommendations, including steps to standardize safety training, enhance transparency in the handling of employee complaints and improve systems to grant pilots more influence on safety and training matters.

The FAA plans to “immediately” undertake a review to determine next steps, the agency said.

“We will continue to hold Boeing to the highest standard of safety and will work to ensure the company comprehensively addresses these recommendations,” the FAA said.

Boeing thanked the panel and said it will “carefully review the panel’s assessment and learn from their findings,” according to a company statement.

“We’ve taken important steps to foster a safety culture that empowers and encourages all employees to share their voice,” Boeing said. ” But there is more work to do.”

The report summarized Boeing safety initiatives after the fatal crashes, such as the “Speak Up” portal, an online system for employees to confidentially report concerns about production quality, safety or business ethics.

But employees interviewed for the FAA report expressed “distrust in the anonymity of the Speak Up program,” according to the write-up, which said employees prefer to discuss concerns directly with their managers.

“Employees did not understand how to utilize the different reporting systems, which reporting system to use and when,” said the FAA.

“The expert panel is concerned that this confusion about reporting systems may discourage employees from submitting safety concerns.”

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