Boeing has created a new safety committee to oversee both design and manufacturing in a move the company said reaffirms its “longstanding commitment to aerospace safety and the safety of its products and services.” 

Called the Aerospace Safety Committee (ASC), this permanent office will be headed by retired Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The committee was approved by the Boeing board back in August.

According to Boeing, “The committee’s primary responsibility is to oversee and ensure the safe design, development, manufacture, production, operation, maintenance and delivery of the company’s aerospace products and services.” 

Formation of the committee came as the company finished a five-month internal review of its “policies and processes for airplane design and development.” Among the recommendations are to create a Product and Services Safety organization that would report directly to upper management and the newly formed ASC; it would review “all aspects of product safety, including investigating cases of undue pressure and anonymous product and service safety concerns raised by employees.” 

The board also recommended that Boeing’s ODA (Organization Designation Authorization) teams report up through the Product and Services Safety group, as would the internal Accident Investigation Team. Crucially, Boeing’s board is calling on the company to realign its engineering teams to report directly to the chief engineer. 

Boeing’s statement outlines several other changes in the company’s design and development structure, including a program that would incorporate historical design materials, data and information, best practices, lessons learned and detailed after-action reports. The board also wants Boeing to partner with its airline customers and others in the industry to re-examine assumptions around flight deck design and operation.

“The safety of the global aviation industry is rooted in its dedication to continuous improvement and learning,” says Giambastiani. “The independent committee review was extensive, rigorous and focused on delivering specific recommendations to ensure the highest levels of safety in Boeing airplanes and aerospace products and services and for all who fly on Boeing airplanes. Boeing has been criticized as having shifted from an engineering-driven company to one where sales and marketing have tremendous influence; this change would be a visible move away from the current status quo.