News /

Boeing Prioritizing Speed Over Quality is Responsible For String of Safety Incidents, Report Finds

New reports counter speculation that unqualified DEI hires are to blame for manufacturing defects

Boeing Prioritizing Speed Over Quality is Responsible For String of Safety Incidents, Report Finds

In recent months, Boeing has found itself under intense scrutiny from federal regulators and the public following a series of troubling incidents involving its aircraft.

An alarming episode occurred in January when a Boeing craft flying for Alaska Airlines experienced a door blowout shortly after its takeoff from Portland, Oregon.

After the incident, Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s president, said the company was “acknowledging our mistake” as an investigation was launched into the factors that led to the series of quality control issues.

Other Incidents:

  • Earlier this month, after departing Texas, a Boeing 737-900 suffered a malfunction that resulted in flames shooting out of the engine, prompting an emergency landing

  • In January, a United Airlines Boeing 737-800 was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines shut down mid-flight

  • In February 2023, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max plane suffered a malfunction to its horizontal stabilizing system, forcing pilots to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff.

These episodes have ignited widespread speculation and concern over the causes of such frequent and severe issues within such a short period of time.

Amidst the discourse, some voices on social media, predominantly from conservative circles, have pointed to Boeing's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives as culprits, suggesting these policies have led to the employment of inadequately skilled personnel.

However, a recent investigation shows that the company’s manufacturing defects are the result of an internal culture that used shortcuts in production and prioritized speed over quality.

“There’s a lot of areas where things don’t seem to be put together right in the first place,” Joe Jacobsen, an engineer and aviation safety expert who spent more than a decade at Boeing and more than 25 years at the F.A.A., told the New York Times.

“The theme is shortcuts everywhere — not doing the job right,” he added.

A major factor at play, according to the Times, is that Boeing has a less experienced staff than prior to the 2020 pandemic.

When air travel plummeted in the early days of the pandemic, airline executives believed it would take years for passengers to return in large numbers. Boeing responded by cutting jobs and encouraging workers to retire early or take buyouts. The company lost 19,000 employees, including veteran engineers with decades of experience.

“We warned Boeing that it was going to lose a mountain of expertise, and we proposed some workarounds, but the company blew us off,” Ray Goforth, executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the union repenting the engineers, told the Times.

He said the company used retirements as an opportunity to slash costs by replacing veteran workers with “lower-paid entry-level engineers and technical workers.”

Interviews with more then two dozen current and former Boeing employees have unearthed longstanding concerns regarding the company's commitment to quality.

Company personnel told the Times about Boeing’s disturbing practices, including attempts to circumvent quality procedures.

In one example, workers would engage in “inspector shopping” where company personnel would seek out inspectors who would simply sign off on work with little pushback.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun announced this week that he intends to leave the company by the end of the year. The company’s chairman and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes are also stepping down, marking a major shakeup as the company rebuilds its manufacturing and repair its image.

*For corrections please email [email protected]*