Industry Trends

Navigating safety in aerospace and aviation: Lessons from the Boeing and Alaska Airlines incident

January 25, 2024

Boeing and Alaska Airlines

RESOURCES Navigating safety in aerospace and aviation: Lessons from the Boeing and Alaska Airlines incident

The recent Boeing and Alaska Airlines incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of effective communication and a strong safety culture within the workplace. This incident in which a door plug fell off an Alaska Airlines flight while in mid-air, prompted swift action from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), leading to an investigation into Boeing’s adherence to safety regulations. After diving into this further, it is clear that a deeper examination of organizational culture and quality control measures is crucial to ensuring air travel safety.

Why did this happen?

Although the exact reason is yet to be pinpointed, speculation is that insufficient manufacturing practices and quality assurance practices could have been a factor. Certainly, strict quality control measures in the aerospace industry are especially critical since even the slightest error could have catastrophic consequences.

Boeing’s organizational culture may have also played a role in this incident. In recent years, the company has faced scrutiny for prioritizing profit over safety.

The FAA’s investigation will shed some light on the situation and provide key learnings around safety compliance, communication, and transparency for companies and leaders in the aviation space.

The importance of communication and transparency in workplace safety compliance

Effective communication within any organization is vital for accident prevention. In the aviation industry, it’s especially crucial. Pilots, air traffic controllers, and ground crew must communicate effectively to ensure safe aircraft operations.

Regular safety audits conducted by qualified personnel can help identify operational hazards and reduce the risk of accidents. But taking these findings and communicating them back to frontline workers is critical so they can be aware of potential risks and take steps to mitigate them. Encouraging employees and management to report near-misses enables organizations to address issues before accidents occur. Fostering a culture of learning from mistakes, rather than punishment, can further aid in preventing similar incidents.

The role of quality assurance in maintaining safety standards

Quality assurance (QA) is vital to  any organization, especially in industries where safety is a top priority.

Employee listening leads to increased quality and efficiency within the workplace, thus helping with overall quality assurance.

In a recent interview, Jim Bermeister, Chief Operating Officer at Libbey Glass, stated “When you look at employee engagement, when you look at safety metrics, when you look at quality… they tend to go directionally hand-in-hand. If you’re looking at a safety problem at a plant, you see the same symptoms across other areas because it all comes down to attention to detail and communication. If those two things don’t work, you can’t produce quality products, you don’t see productivity, you don’t see engagement, and you don’t see good retention.”

QA professionals employ cross-departmental collaboration, inspections, testing, and audits to identify and mitigate potential risks and ensure products meet safety standards.

How employee engagement contributes to safety compliance and quality assurance in the workplace

The Boeing and Alaska Airlines incident underscores the critical need for a strong safety culture and better communication in the aerospace industry. While examining potential consequences and preventive measures, it is evident that employee engagement can play a pivotal role in ensuring safety compliance and quality assurance.

Employee engagement cultivates a safety-focused workplace culture. Engaged employees take pride in their work, proactively identify hazards, and foster innovative teamwork, ultimately enhancing overall safety and quality.

Employee engagement and listening tools empower employees to share ideas and concerns regularly and foster a sense of ownership that enables organizations to address potential issues before they escalate. Active listening and feedback gathering contribute to continuous improvements in safety protocols that create a safer and more efficient workplace.

Employee engagement and listening tools are fundamental ways to ensure the safety of passengers and prevent similar incidents in the future.

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Kayla Pimentel

Kayla Pimentel, |

Kayla Pimentel serves as a Demand Generation Associate at WorkStep. Leveraging her diverse background in sales and marketing, she is enthusiastic about sharing insights about how to make the frontline a better place to work.