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US Senate committee holds hearing on Boeing’s safety culture report



US Senate committee holds hearing on Boeing's safety culture report

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee said Thursday it would hold a hearing next week with members of an expert panel that released a report in February criticizing Boeing’s safety culture and calling for significant improvements.

The hearing next Wednesday comes as the American aircraft manufacturer struggles with a a total security crisis that had its reputation tarnished after a Jan. 5 mid-air blowout of a new 737 MAX 9. Since then, it has administrative upheavalUS regulators have restricted production and aircraft deliveries fell by half in March.

The committee will hear from three panelists, including Tracy Dillinger, a NASA expert on safety culture, Javier de Luis, an aviation expert at MIT, and Najmedin Meshkati, a professor at the University of Southern California and expert on aviation safety .

Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the committee, said Wednesday that she was impressed with the panel of experts’ report and wanted to hear members’ opinions before calling the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a future hearing.

Boeing declined to comment on the hearing.

The panel report was directed by Congress after fatal 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019, which killed 346 people, including panelist De Luis’ sister in the Ethiopian crash.

It criticized Boeing’s safety culture on a number of fronts, finding “a lack of awareness of safety-related metrics at all levels of the organization.”

The panel also cited an “inadequate and confusing implementation of the components of a positive safety culture.”

The panel was appointed by the FAA in early 2023 and said Boeing must review the recommendations within six months “and develop an action plan.”

The FAA ordered Boeing in February to address systemic quality control problems within 90 days after an audit found flaws in the company’s manufacturing processes.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will hear testimony later in the day next Wednesday from a Boeing whistleblower and company engineer Sam Salehpour who claims it has addressed safety and quality concerns in the production of 787 and 777 jets.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, chairman of the panel, said Salehpour will testify about what the senator called “Boeing’s broken safety culture.” Mr. Blumenthal has also asked outgoing CEO Dave Calhoun to testify at a future hearing.

Boeing responded to Salehpour this week, saying the company has full confidence in the 787, adding that the claims “are inaccurate and do not represent the comprehensive work Boeing has done to ensure the aircraft’s long-term quality and safety to ensure.” – Reuters