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As Criticism Grows After Crashes, Boeing Committee May Recommend Organizational Changes

Published by Slashdot on Sun, 22 Sep 2019


McGruber summarizes an article in the New York Times:A small committee of Boeing's board is expected to call for several meaningful changes to the way the company is structured. The commitee may recommend that Boeing change aspects of its organizational structure, call for the creation of new groups focused on safety and encourage the company to consider making changes to the cockpits of future airplanes to accommodate a new generation of pilots, some of whom may have less training. Currently, Boeing's top engineers report primarily to the business leaders for each airplane model, and secondarily to the company's chief engineer. "Under this model, engineers who identify problems that might slow a jet's development could face resistance from executives whose jobs revolve around meeting production deadlines," reports the New York Times. "The committee recommends flipping the reporting lines, so that top engineers report primarily to Boeing's chief engineer, and secondarily to business unit leaders. "Another key recommendation calls for establishing a new safety group that will work across the company..." "Though the committee did not investigate the two crashes of Boeing's 737 MAX jet, their findings represent the company's most direct effort yet to reform its internal processes after the accidents, which killed 346 people." Meanwhile, a scathing article in the New Republic outlines the need for change, criticizing "pilot errorists" who have attempted to shift focus and blame from Boeing's own missteps in creating "a self-hijacking plane": In the now infamous debacle of the Boeing 737 MAX, the company produced a plane outfitted with a half-assed bit of software programmed to override all pilot input and nosedive when a little vane on the side of the fuselage told it the nose was pitching up. The vane was also not terribly reliable, possibly due to assembly line lapses reported by a whistle-blower, and when the plane processed the bad data it received, it promptly dove into the sea. It is understood, now more than ever, that capitalism does half-assed things like that, especially in concert with computer software and oblivious regulators... [T]here was something unsettlingly familiar when the world first learned of MCAS in November, about two weeks after the system's unthinkable stupidity drove the two-month-old plane and all 189 people on it to a horrific death. It smacked of the sort of screwup a 23-year-old intern might have made -- and indeed, much of the software on the MAX had been engineered by recent grads of Indian software-coding academies making as little as $9 an hour, part of Boeing management's endless war on the unions that once represented more than half its employees. Down in South Carolina, a nonunion Boeing assembly line that opened in 2011 had for years churned out scores of whistle-blower complaints and wrongful termination lawsuits packed with scenes wherein quality-control documents were regularly forged, employees who enforced standards were sabotaged, and planes were routinely delivered to airlines with loose screws, scratched windows, and random debris everywhere. The MCAS crash was just the latest installment in a broader pattern...Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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