Boeing is such a mess it plans to 'celebrate' its latest whistleblower—even though two just suddenly died

GettyImages 2147882384 e1715111184725

Boeing is smiling through the pain. After two whistleblower deaths in as many months and a Federal Aviation Administration investigation into the company opened Monday, the aircraft manufacturer said it will “celebrate” its latest employee to raise a red flag on the company’s safety culture.

Scott Stocker, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s 787 Program, wrote in a memo to employees on April 29 that an employee spoke out against an issue he saw during a quality test on where a jet’s wing meets its body. Further investigation into the issue revealed several employees failed to complete the required tests. While Stocker did not go into detail about the nature of the reported irregularities, he did use the memo as an opportunity to discuss the company’s whistleblowing culture and applaud the employee for voicing concerns.

“We will use this moment to celebrate him, and to remind us all about the kind of behavior we will and will not accept as a team,” Stocker said.

He reiterated to employees that Boeing has a “zero tolerance policy” for not following company safety and quality protocols. The concern the employee reported and the company’s findings, which were immediately reported to the FAA according to the memo, did not result in an immediate flight or safety problem.

“I wanted to personally thank and commend that teammate for doing the right thing,” Stocker said. “It’s critical that every one of us speak up when we see something that may not look right, or that needs attention.”

Boeing’s report to the FAA prompted the regulatory body to open a probe into Boeing’s failure to adequately inspect the Dreamliner aircrafts and employees falsifying records about the planes at a South Carolina facility. The FAA will require Boeing to “[reinspect] all 787 airplanes still within the production system” and “create a plan to address the in-service fleet,” it told Fortune in a statement. 

Stocker’s effusive sentiments toward employees speaking up about safety concerns comes at a precarious time for Boeing. Not only is the company contending with another FAA probe—following an investigation wrapped in March that found dozens of safety concerns with 737 Max production—but also the deaths of multiple Boeing whistleblowers. 

Joshua Dean, a 45-year-old a quality auditor at Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems who spoke out in 2023 about the trouble-laden 737 Max models, died on May 2 after a sudden infection. Dean’s aunt told the Times he was in good shape and led a healthy lifestyle. On March 9, less than a month before Dean’s death, John Barnett, a Boeing employee for 32 years, died by suicide 12 hours after testifying on the company’s allegedly faulty oxygen masks on its flights. 

Whistleblowers tell a different story

Boeing’s vocal support in its recent memo for employees reporting safety concerns is a stark contrast to the testimonies Boeing whistleblowers shared in a Senate hearing on April 17 about the company’s safety culture.

Sam Salehpour, a quality engineer and 30-year veteran at Boeing, said the company retaliated against him for reporting improperly filled gaps between aircraft panels and employees jumping on aircraft parts to make them align. Salehpour’s supervisors stopped him from attending meetings and transferred him to another division after he continued to voice concerns, he explained in his testimony. Salehpour said his supervisor berated him over the phone for 40 minutes at a time and canceled doctor’s appointments on his calendar.

“I was ignored. I was told not to create delays,” Salehpour said. “I was told, frankly, to shut up.”

A lawsuit filed against Boeing the day after the Senate hearing underlined the whistleblower’s retaliation claims. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), a union for Boeing employees, alleged that two of its members received identical negative performance reviews from the company in 2022 after they argued with supervisors for six months over company safety practices. The two employees said they were afraid to use Boeing’s “Speak Up” protocols out of fear the company would ignore their complaints.

Boeing said the allegations were unsubstantiated and that it encourages employees to speak up, but SPEEA executive director Ray Goforth said Boeing hid the report from the FAA and did not share it with the union, despite it being required to do so under federal law.

“Boeing has forfeited the right to be taken at its word by anyone,” Goforth told Fortune in a statement last month.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top