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Boeing shows "lack of awareness" of safety measures, experts say

Examining the Boeing 737 Max 9 NTSB report
Preliminary NTSB report on Boeing 737 Max 9 Alaska Airlines flight released 01:53

A panel of experts on Monday criticized Boeing's safety culture, raising the heat on the aircraft manufacturer following a January 5 incident in which a portion of 737 Max 9 plane made by the company blew off mid-flight

In a new report, the Federal Aviation Administration said a panel of government and aviation industry experts had "found a lack of awareness of safety-related metrics at all levels" of Boeing, adding that "employees had difficulty distinguishing the differences among various measuring methods, their purpose and outcomes."

More broadly, the agency also pointed to a "disconnect" between Boeing's senior management and workers, with employees charged with checking the company's planes expressing concern about potential retaliation if they raised issues. 

Boeing's safety "procedures and training are complex and in a constant state of change, creating employee confusion especially among different work sites and employee groups," according to the panel's report to the FAA.

Congress ordered the study in 2020, when it passed legislation to reform how the agency certifies new planes after two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max jetliners.

Boeing withdraws request for safety exemption 03:06

The panel made 50 recommendations to Boeing, including coming up with a plan to address the experts' concerns within six months and presenting that plan to the FAA. 

In a statement responding to the experts' findings, Boeing said "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."

In a memo to employees earlier this month, Boeing said the executive who oversaw production of the 737 Max 9 was leaving the company after nearly 18 years.

Boeing has faced intense scrutiny since a "door plug" fell off a 737 Max 9 jet operated by Alaska Airlines, narrowly averting catastrophe. Alaska Air and United Airlines, the only two U.S. carriers that use the plane, were subsequently forced to ground most of their Max 9s. The National Transportation Safety Board said last month that four bolts meant to hold the plug in place on the Alaska Air flight had been missing

Alaska Airlines and United in late January returned their grounded Max 9 aircraft to service. 

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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