FAA launches review after Boeing employees report interference on safety matters

FAA launches review after Boeing employees report interference on safety matters
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is launching a review into aircraft company Boeing after employees reported that it interfered in safety matters.

In a letter to the company dated Aug. 19, the FAA said it was looking into complaints lodged from the company’s Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) unit.

Under federal law, Boeing has to give ODA unit members “sufficient authority to perform authorized functions” without conflicting duties or interference.

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“Boeing’s company culture appears to hamper members of the ODA unit from communicating openly with the FAA,” the letter, which was shared with The Hill, read.

“Further, the organizational structure also appears to provide a strong influence on how unit members are appointed, managed, and allowed to perform authorized functions, which provides ample opportunity for interference rather than independence,” the letter continued.

The letter was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The FAA surveyed a sample of the ODA unit members between May and July of this year. The agency interviewed 32 out of 1,400 ODA unit members, an agency spokesperson said.

The letter included samples of complaints that the agency received as a result.

“Generally, people know that they can’t do anything overtly—but there is definitely an underlying feeling that sometimes I have to over justify my decisions at times,” according to a quote from one anonymous employee in the letter. 

“I tend to over document my actions to prepare for that so it won’t become a problem downstream,” the employee said.

When it came to transparency with the FAA, one anonymous employee said, “I don’t feel pressured necessarily, but it is definitely not a situation where I feel like I can speak up outside what the applicant has already pre-planned to provide to the FAA in the large group meetings.”

A Boeing spokesperson told The Hill that the company takes the results of the survey with the “utmost seriousness." 

"[We] are taking immediate action on the recommendations outlined in the FAA’s letter of August 19.”

“Increased awareness and encouraging employees to report instances when they believe there may be a case of undue pressure is exactly what we want.  We openly invite all concerned to continue to provide input and in turn we will continue to survey our employees,” the spokesperson said.