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    Wednesday, March 20, 2024

    Airbus CEO Expresses Concern Over Boeing’s Ongoing Technical Issues

    At the “Europe 2024” conference in Berlin, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury expressed concern over maintaining the aerospace industry’s safety reputation.

    "I am not happy with the problems of my competitor,” he said in reply to questions about Boeing’s technical problems, according to Reuters. “They are not good for the industry a whole." Faury added: "We are in an industry where quality and safety is top priority.”

    During the event, Bloomberg reports French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said, “I now prefer flying in Airbus over Boeing — my family too, they care about me.”

    A poll by aviation Industry journalist Jon Ostrower, founder of aviation news site The Air Current, suggests that confidence in Boeing aircraft is waning but not lost.

    Ostrower’s poll, conducted on X, formally Twitter, posed question: “With the 737 Max family now back in service, do you feel comfortable flying on the airplane?” With over 2,200 votes, it showed 59.4% of participants answered “Yes” versus 40.6% answering “No.”

    For Boeing, Failure Is Not An Option

    At any point, either of the world’s largest aerospace suppliers could encounter a technical problem or incident. The industry needs both Airbus and Boeing to function well.

    The Federal Aviation Administration’s six week audit and the separate Expert Review Panel report on Boeing’s safety management system suggest there are endemic problems causing production faults and discouraging employees speaking up on safety.

    For its part, Boeing has said all the right things. In a statement issued in February, Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said:

    “By virtue of our quality stand-downs, the FAA audit findings and the recent expert review panel report, we have a clear picture of what needs to be done. Transparency prevailed in all of these discussions. Boeing will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand. Our Boeing leadership team is totally committed to meeting this challenge.”

    The challenge for Boeing will be to ensure its employees feel confident to defend the company’s stated safety and quality goals.

    In an interview with Tonight on ‘NBC Nightly News, FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker told Lester Holt Boeing has prioritized safety over production.

    “Well, my impressions were similar to the culture survey that just got completed at Boeing and our audit, which is that there are issues around the safety culture at Boeing,” Whitaker said.

    Whitaker said the company’s production procedures were: “Not what you would have expected if safety is the first priority. Whenever someone comes into the FAA to brief on their company, the first thing I expect is to talk about safety because we all have to start there. If it's not safe, then the whole system is not working the way it should.”

    Airbus Tightens Safety Training Program

    During the Airbus Annual Press Conference in February, Faury explained how the company tightened its safety training program, as it added staff following a COVID slowdown in production.

    “We identified the need for recruitment for onboarding for training for reaching qualification and experience in the industry as a risk of going out of COVID. Actually, what we faced at the beginning was more critical was the early ability to recruit too equal to the speed,” Faury said.

    “That's one of the explanations for the difficulties we faced in 2022 to deliver on our brands. This being said, in the meantime, the industry has organized itself.”

    Faury said the whole aviation industry is focused on finding and hiring people with the right skills and qualifications, “to avoid risks on quality and safety.”

    For its part, Airbus prioritizes giving new hires enough during the onboarding process to learn both technical skills and safety practices. “It's not just on the job. It's also the learning of all the regulatory frameworks and the way we do business,” Faury said.

    New hires are partnered with in-house “coaches” on the job, who share skills while also placing an emphasis on safety practices.

    The company has developed a Safety Promotion Center deployed across its main sites, to foster a safety-first culture.

    “That's something we take very seriously because it's indeed a risk,” Faury said, adding that mitigating risks from quality and safety issues has the company’s “full attention.”

    “We want to manage that risk as well as we can,” he said. “We dedicate investment efforts, and good people to this, trying to do well. But I want to stay humble. Again, ensuring quality in any industry is difficult.”

    Faury added that the best way to manage that risk, anticipate problems and focus on quality.

    “Ensuring safety is an absolute must in our industry and an absolute must for our products,” he said.

    United Airlines Focuses On Safety Following String Of Incidents

    News reports of maintenance events, some which would otherwise be routine, increase passenger concern over the safety of aviation.

    United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, sent a message to customers on Monday reassuring them that the airline prioritizes safety, despite a rash of recent incidents, including a 737-800 which landed in Oregon on Friday missing a panel.

    "While they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and have sharpened our focus," Kirby said.

    The airline will have an extra day of training for pilots beginning in May. It will also update the training curriculum for new maintenance technicians and encourage employees to flag safety issues.

    Aviation Is Still A Safe Form Of Transport

    As the International Air Transport Association has highlighted, 2023 was one of the safest years on record, with no fatal accidents or hull losses. That is despite 37 million aircraft movements recorded in 2023, for jets and turboprop aircraft combined.

    “2023 safety performance continues to demonstrate that flying is the safest mode of transport. Aviation places its highest priority on safety and that shows in the 2023 performance. Jet operations saw no hull losses or fatalities. 2023 also saw the lowest fatality risk and all accident rate on record. A single fatal turboprop accident with 72 fatalities, however, reminds us that we can never take safety for granted. And two high profile accidents in the first month of 2024 show that, even if flying is among the safest activities a person can do, there is always room to improve. This is what we have done throughout our history. And we will continue to make flying ever safer,” Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General said in an article published in the association’s Airlines magazine.

    Even with recent incidents in 2024, aviation remains safe. The essential thing is to keep it that way.

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