New Boeing whistleblower calls out 'a culture that desperately needs to be repaired'

A newly revealed whistleblower complaint will give Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun new concerns to address when he testifies before a Senate committee this afternoon.

According to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., the latest whistleblower suggested that Boeing improperly stored, tracked and documented parts that were damaged or otherwise out of specification. The complaint alleges that Boeing tried to conceal evidence of this obfuscation from the Federal Aviation Administration and that mismanaged tracking of the faulty parts likely led to their installation on 737 Max jets.

“This is a culture that continues to prioritize profits, push limits, and disregard its workers. A culture where those who speak up are silenced and sidelined while blame is pushed down to the factory floor,” Blumenthal said in a statement coupled with the release. “A culture that enables retaliation against those who do not submit to the bottom line. A culture that desperately needs to be repaired.”

Sam Mohawk is a current Boeing employee who forwarded his concerns to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which Blumenthal chairs. He said he was retaliated against by Boeing managers as a result.

Boeing said it received the complaint and is reviewing the claims.

“We continuously encourage employees to report all concerns as our priority is to ensure the safety of our airplanes and the flying public,” the company said in a statement.

What’s going on at Boeing?

Boeing has been under scrutiny for years, and the pressure seems only to be increasing, after a series of high-profile safety incidents beginning with two crashes of 737 Max jets that left 346 people dead. Those wrecks were ultimately attributed to poorly designed, undisclosed flight control software. The global Max fleet was grounded for nearly two years after the second crash, and the software was redesigned.

Manufacturing quality has been at the center of the current wave of attention. In January an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 lost a section of its fuselage shortly after takeoff. No serious injuries were reported, but more than 100 planes were again grounded, and regulatory scrutiny of Boeing ramped up.

Calhoun’s prepared remarks, which Boeing shared with USA TODAY ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, will acknowledge shortcomings in the company’s track record.

“Our culture is far from perfect, but we are taking action and making progress. We understand the gravity, and we are committed to moving forward with transparency and accountability, while elevating employee engagement,” Calhoun plans to say.

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How are Boeing’s shortcomings being addressed?

In addition to Calhoun’s testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, regulators are taking a variety of steps to ramp up oversight of its production lines and address lapses in its safety record.

The Federal Aviation Administration limited Boeing's 737 Max production capacity last month. Boeing and the regulator unveiled a safety plan that will require more streamlined reporting processes for Boeing employees with safety concerns. The FAA is also planning to take a more hands-on approach to overseeing the company going forward.

Other Boeing whistleblowers

Mohawk is hardly the first current or former Boeing employee to express concerns about safety lapses on the factory floor. According to Blumenthal a second whistleblower, who asked to remain anonymous, told the subcommittee that the company was trying to cut corners on safety inspections.

Previous whistleblowers have also warned of safety lapses, and many, like Mohawk, said they faced retaliation from management for voicing their concerns.

Some of the current scrutiny of Boeing stems from the long-standing belief among industry watchers that the manufacturer has, for decades, prioritized its performance on Wall Street over the engineering excellence that was once its hallmark.

Zach Wichter is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in New York. You can reach him at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Boeing whistleblower says company 'continues to prioritize profits'