SMS will soon be mandatory for Boeing and it will have to reenergize its Safety Culture

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Based on Sec. Chao’s panel, FAA mandates SMS for manufacturers

Risk Management tool used effectively for airlines

Boeing, Part 5 test  and voluntary participant, needs to step it up

As announced below, the FAA will mandate that all manufacturers subject to its jurisdiction will have to implement an exacting safety program. The action was taken in response to the tragic Boeing Max 8 crashes and a blue ribbon panel appointed by Secretary Chao. The briefing did not include what many critics pointed to as the most serious flaw in the certification process, the Organization Delegation Authority (ODA).[1]

Safety Management System is the sine qua non international standard for aviation safety,  initiated by the International Civil Aviation Organization, adopted by the FAA, the European Union Safety Agency and most Civil Aviation Authorities. It is a demanding discipline, but its reduction of aviation risk is unquestioned. Installing this regimen requires a high level of commitment from senior management to the frontline employees.

The FAA has slowly devolved SMS to its various certificate holders. The airlines are 100% invested in 14 CFR Part 5. In September, 2014, the FAA started Part 21/SMS Rulemaking Project. Boeing was one of the companies involved in this test and has voluntarily adopted the regimen.  

sms chart

While there is no direct evidence, it would appear that neither Boeing’s participation in the Part 5 Design and Manufacturing project nor its self-imposed SMS experience really resulted in the inculcation of this discipline at every level of the company.

boeing sms experience

Externalities are poor but the only available measure of true adoption of a safety culture. Boeing’s SMS and safety culture did not get high marks in a number of headlines:

Safety was ‘a given’: Inside the boardroom amid Boeing’s crisis

Boeing employees pushed back on “stupid” airlines and regulators who asked for more pilot training

Internal Boeing documents show employees discussing efforts to manipulate regulators scrutinizing the 737 Max

Clowns’ and ‘Monkeys’ Join Boeing’s Sad Circus

Boeing employees pushed back on “stupid” airlines and regulators who asked for more pilot training

A breakdown for Boeing and the FAA after years of trust

Boeing Staff called ‘DGCA in India a stupider fool,’ reveal company documents

MAX Chatter at Boeing Undercuts Its Public Stance

Boeing acknowledged a less than robust commitment when its former Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg announced several immediate actions he is taking to strengthen the company’s enduring commitment to product and services safety, saying in September 2019:

“Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and the recent 737 MAX accidents will always weigh heavily on us. They have reminded us again of the importance of our work and have only intensified our commitment to continuously improve the safety of our products and services,” said Muilenburg. “My team and I embrace our board’s recommendations and are taking immediate steps to implement them across the company in partnership with our people, while continuing and expanding our ongoing efforts to strengthen safety across Boeing and the broader aerospace industry…”

In addition to the previously announced permanent Aerospace Safety Committee of the Boeing Board of Directors, Muilenburg shared that Boeing is standing up a new Product and Services Safety organization that will further strengthen the company’s safety-first focus. This organization will unify safety-related responsibilities currently managed by teams across several Boeing business and operating units.


The team will be led by Vice President of Product and Services Safety Beth Pasztor, who will report jointly to the Boeing Board of Directors Aerospace Safety Committee and Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief engineer and senior vice president of Engineering, Test & Technology…

Pasztor, a 34-year Boeing veteran, previously served as vice president of Safety, Security & Compliance for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, where she was responsible for integrating product safety and regulatory compliance actions and initiatives.

The organization is responsible for reviewing all aspects of product safety, including investigating cases of undue pressure and anonymous product and service safety concerns raised by employees. Pasztor also will oversee the company’s Accident Investigation Team and safety review boards, in addition to the enterprise Organization Designation Authorization—the company’s engineering and technical experts who represent the Federal Aviation Administration in airplane certification activities.

With input from the specially appointed committee, Muilenburg also announced that engineers throughout the company, including the new Product and Services Safety organization, will report directly to Hyslop, whose focus will be on health and capability of the Engineering function and related needs of the company. This realignment will help strengthen engineering expertise, encourage a companywide approach to meeting customer, business unit and operational priorities, and further emphasize the importance of safety. It also places an even greater emphasis on creating professional growth opportunities for engineers across the enterprise.

“These changes will enhance our team and amplify our focus on safety, while benefiting our customers and operational performance, and intensify our focus on learning, tools and talent development across the company,” said Muilenburg.

To be effective, Safety Culture and SMS need begin at the top and extend down from there. One of the precepts of this important safety advance is that everyone should be committed to the regimen, including the Board. Another SMS concept is that all (a typical event review committee includes not only the obvious (pilots, mechanics, etc.) but a 360 degree array of the organization (top-to-bottom plus other disciplines- accounting, legal, HR, planning, etc.) adds to the need for presbyopic vision, to look for alternative solutions and creative paths to lower risks.

New President & CEO David Calhoun’s email declared that safety was a major emphasis.

FAA to mandate new safety management tools for airplane manufacturers

Boeing Collage

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it would require Boeing Co and other aircraft manufacturers to adopt new safety-management tools following two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people.

The plan to begin the regulatory process to mandate Safety Management Systems (SMS) comes in response to recommendations released in January by an expert panel named by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The panel did not back ending a long-standing practice of delegating some certification tasks to aircraft manufacturers. Boeing grounded its entire 737 Max fleet after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed in March 2019.

SMS systems are mandated for airlines. The special committee report said “SMSs foster a holistic assessment of whether the combinations of actions such as design, procedures, and training work together to counter potential hazards.”

Boeing’s safety culture was harshly criticized in January after it released hundreds of internal messages about the development of the 737 MAX, including one that said the plane was “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

Boeing, which halted production in January, is addressing two software issues before it can move to a key certification test flight. Reuters has reported the 737 MAX is expected to remain grounded until at least August.

“To further strengthen our safety culture, Boeing is working with the FAA to implement a safety management system,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

U.S. House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio said in December his panel’s review found “a broken safety culture within Boeing and an FAA that was unknowing, unable or unwilling to step up, regulate, and provide appropriate oversight of Boeing.”

The report said FAA should address “concerns about potential undue pressure” on Boeing employees conducting FAA certification tasks. The FAA said it would “systemically address any actual undue pressure.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Richard Chang)

graves and graves

Ranking Members Sam Graves & Garret Graves Welcome FAA Action Plan to Address Certification Process Recommendations

Washington, D.C., May 19, 2020

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA) commended the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the release of the FAA’s Action Plan in response to the Official Report of the Special Committee to Review the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Process.  The Special Committee was tasked by DOT Secretary Elaine Chao to develop recommendations in the wake of investigations into the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX accidents.  Ranking Members Sam Graves and Garret Graves released the following joint statement:

“As we focus on the safety of our communities through the coronavirus pandemic, we must not take our eye off the ball of protecting our flying passengers.  The FAA hasn’t wavered in its duty to improve the safety of our aviation industry and learn every lesson it can from the 737 MAX accidents.

The Department of Transportation and the FAA’s action plan for implementing the Special Committee’s expert recommendations is thorough, comprehensive, and actually addresses all formal recommendations made to date, including those from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Joint Authorities Technical Review, and the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee.  None of these impartial, unbiased investigations or analyses have concluded that our system is fundamentally broken and in need of major structural reform.  However, many constructive and thoughtful solutions have been identified to improve the safety of our system – one that continues to be the gold standard across the world.

“No system is perfect, and we have always said that if there are problems with the FAA’s aircraft certification system, we should fix them.  The action plan released today will result in positive changes to our system, and we look forward to working with Secretary Chao, Administrator Dickson, and the leaders of the FAA’s workforce to ensure they have the resources and support they need to implement the action plan and continue raising the bar on aviation safety.”

The FAA soon will mandate SMS for Boeing and all Manufacturers. Boeing needs to determine how to reenergize its Safety Culture and get to work on this mission with almost religious fervor.

Boeing SMS ?


[1] For a more thorough discussion of ODA: Now Is The Time For All Aviation To Come To The Aid Of ODA[1]; New York Times Article- Is It Time To Reconsider The Boeing ODA?; A Proposal To Respond To The ODA Perception Mess—B737 Max8–2019 #6; UL As An Historical Model For Replacing ODA If Congress Stops That Authority-Comments On The Negroni Commentary; Rep. Graves And Rep. Graves Ask The FAA Unusually Good Questions About ODA


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