A thought on this, and on how we discuss things. Let's say that Boeing gets its house in order. As part of that, they would no doubt turn up issues from when their house was disordered. I fear when they do this, they would then be castigated for "yet more Boeing problems", when in fact we would be witnessing the work to resolve those problems. That in itself doesn't create the most conducive atmosphere for cultural change. It has been quite easy to point the finger at "vulture capitalism" as some have described it, and this short-termism baked into our financial system definitely hasn't helped. But I wonder to what extent our social culture of the current age, where we focus on every fault and play it out in a public ad nauseum, has also contributed to a siege mentality that has hampered working with those outside the company to resolve issue proactively, in favour of trying to play down issues in the hope it won't lead to negative discussions. That's not to say those discussions analyising faults shouldn't be happening with the FAA; indeed they should be, and in a way that is focused not on apportioning blame but on finding the root causes of issues and addressing those. When they also are played out by people without the technical expertise to contextualise them, I fear that is not contributing to a safety culture, but in fact to a culture of siege.
I sincerely hope we are getting to the point where they are getting the house in order and able to clear away the gremlins in their systems, and I hope that when they do that we won't use it as an excuse to be keyboard warriors proudly claiming how much more we know than those working at the coalface.
Very well said.
Unfortunately, this very thread is proof that the keyboard warriors appear to be are out in full force...
I've actually lived the kind of change that the Engineers at Boeing have to be going through. My QA & Regulatory background is in Nuclear Power (and the Aviation and Nuclear regulatory regulations are in many cases very often mirror images of themselves with some key words changed to focus on either avaition or nuclear).
Within the USA the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) does multiple inspections of various aspects of the operation and maintenance of nuclear plants each year. They have a "Green/Yellow/Orange/Red" rating system for each area. Red means that there are serious issues that could realistically affect the health and safety of the public; with "protection of the health and safety of the public" being our key licensed goal (the NRC does not care if a nuclear power plant generates any electricity or is commercially viable).
This color coded rating method was adopted in the late 1980's or very early 1990's. Historically, there have been 4 "Red" findings since then.
I was at the plant that had 2 of those "Red" findings - and overlapping at the same time. The NRC almost shut us down.
When I started working there I remember being criticized by my Supervisor as taking too long to do work. I told him that I was concerned that every-time an issue came up that too many people started from the position that "of course its operable (our Key regulatory requirement for equipment)... we just have to demonstrate that"; where in my opinion was that the correct starting point was to seriously ask the question "Is it operable?" My supervisor told me that I really did not understand things.
Then the plant got hit with it's 1st Red finding, and the NRC oversight became massive, then the 2nd Red Finding, and the NRC was everywhere in the plant. A lot had to change in Engineering and Operations on the approaches and attitudes. A lot of people left. Virtually all engineering documents had to be reviewed by an independent review team before being approved. That same engineering review team reviewed every "approved" engineering evaluation or calculation going back multiple years; and found massive rework had to be done.
Then one day after our plant had cleared the Red Findings and were back to normal NRC oversight my Manager (who was the supervisor who criticized me and scoffed at my point of view many years ago) told me that the "review team" had concluded that I had produced the highest quality engineering work of the entire 100+ person engineering department since I arrived at the plant (none of my documents had to be revised or reworked); and then told me that my observation from many years ago about the presumed starting point on issues turned out to be totally correct; and thanked me for pushing back and keeping my high standards. I got a higher than normal pay raise that year.
So I've lived this... and seen how hard it is for an organization to really change. And yes, having people constantly nitpick and tell you how bad you are for finding old problems does not help at all. Fortunately, the NRC did not beat us over the head about finding all the old problems; and the press was not writing about the issues at my plant.
I actually believe that Boeing finding this is a very good indication - and tells me that Boeing engineering and QA are headed in the right track...