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Boeing review finds ‘disconnect’ on safety


A new report for the US government has raised serious concerns about Boeing’s safety management systems, adding to the scrutiny facing the US plane maker.

The review found a “disconnect” between senior management and regular staff, and signs that safety-related messages and behaviours were not effectively implemented across the company.

The report was ordered after crashes involving Boeing planes in 2018 and 2019.

Boeing pledged to review the findings.

“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,” the company said.

“We will carefully review the panel’s assessment and learn from their findings, as we continue our comprehensive efforts to improve our safety and quality programs.”

The company, one of two major global plane makers, has been under added pressure since last month, when a section of one of its passenger jets blew off in mid-air, forcing an emergency landing.

The incident, which narrowly avoided serious harm, revived questions about Boeing’s manufacturing processes, years after the 2018 and 2019 accidents, which killed 346 people and led to accusations that the company had put profits before safety as it produced its planes.

The panel of experts, which was convened after the earlier crashes, said Boeing had taken steps to improve, but that it saw indications of “gaps in Boeing’s safety journey”.

It said some Boeing staff were hesitant to report problems and worried about retaliation because of how the reporting process was set up.

Boeing also did not have a clear system for reporting problems and tracking how those concerns were resolved, it said.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would also review the findings.

The agency is currently investigating Boeing’s manufacturing processes, triggered by the 5 January blowout. It has barred the company from expanding production of its popular 737 Max planes while the review is under way.

“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 as it released the report.

The troubles at Boeing are expected to lead to delays delivering new planes to airlines, which Ryanair has said could cause ticket prices to rise. Other airlines have also voiced frustration over the issues.

Earlier this month, Boeing said it was replacing the person in charge of the 737 Max programme and creating a new position of senior vice president for quality.