Boeing’s culture of secrecy forces another whistleblower forward

A good metric for determining the values of a workplace is assessing the culture of a company is how employees treat their jobs and each other. 

If a company values honesty and the input of its employees while expecting the highest standard of quality for its products, that is a moral and healthy corporate culture that is worth being a part of. 

It is not the culture of the airplane manufacturer Boeing. The rotten culture of this company has been known for some time. It is a company that has repeatedly attempted to cut costs by bypassing regulators and encouraging employees to cut corners in production. It is a culture that has cost lives and threatens many more. 

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it is investigating Boeing yet again for possibly cutting corners in the production of its 787 Dreamliner after a whistleblower report. 

The whistleblower, Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour, claims that, over continued use, the plane’s fuselage could eventually break apart mid-flight because of how it is fastened together.

Various parts of the 787 are constructed by different manufacturers and then assembled by Boeing. According to what Salehpour told the New York Times, these fuselage parts “are not exactly the same shape where they fit together.”

Predictably, Boeing says that this is not a safety concern, even though it acknowledged the reality of how the plane is produced and the existence of these mismatched components. 

But Boeing has lost any credibility and should not be granted the benefit of the doubt. The company is in the midst of a streak of purely disastrous and life-threatening decisions that have severely damaged the company’s reputation. 

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In January, a panel on a Boeing 737 Max operated by Alaska Airlines came off midflight. While no one was injured, the company then proceeded to weather a string of mishaps over the next few months that have completely terrified passengers and forced the company to defend the safety of its airplanes. These mishaps come barely six years after the deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019 that led to the grounding of 737 Max planes around the world. 

If the company had a culture that listened to concerns from engineers such as Salehpour while prioritizing quality over profits, it very well could have avoided the situation in which it now finds itself. The FAA should pursue a rigorous investigation into the 787 and ensure that the company is held accountable for any manufacturing problems that could endanger thousands of lives.

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