Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)
SPEEA proposes safety program for Boeing professionals

In an effort to improve quality and safety procedures at Boeing, SPEEA has proposed a new process that would protect unionized engineers and technicians who speak out about potential problems they see in their work area or even mistakes with their own work.

The proposed Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) would be a tri-party agreement signed by Boeing, SPEEA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). SPEEA brought the proposal forward in a meeting with Boeing executives on Jan. 31.

Boeing already has a similar agreement with the FAA and Machinists Union District Lodge 751, which protects hourly workers at Boeing who call out potential safety or quality issues.

“This agreement would be an important step toward improving the culture of safety at Boeing,” said SPEEA Secretary Shaunna Winton, who was one of the union representatives making the proposal. “It would reassure our members at Boeing that they can report potential problems without having to fear any repercussions.”

ASAP agreements are common throughout the aviation industry. As of December, the FAA had signed more than 1,000 of them, involving major airlines, private jet operators, helicopter services and manufacturers like Raytheon. They cover pilots, dispatchers, maintenance workers, flight attendants and other aerospace workers.

Under SPEEA’s proposal, professional aerospace workers at Boeing would be encouraged to report – even self-report – whenever they saw an error or issue that could compromise aircraft safety or quality.

The reports would be reviewed by a standing committee of representatives from Boeing, the FAA and the union. That panel would be charged with determining why a specific mistake was made and what steps need to be taken to correct it. Further, it would investigate the circumstances that led up to the error and determine whether there needs to be systemic changes
to a process to ensure the error isn’t repeated.

Workers who self-report their own mistakes or call out mistakes made by others would be protected from discipline during this process.

“We all should be accountable for our own mistakes,” said SPEEA Northwest Regional Vice President John Dimas. “But it’s not always easy. Our proposed ASAP agreement would make it safer for workers to come forward about issues they see or mistakes they’ve made before they become critical problems.”

SPEEA Treasurer Dan Nowlin concurred. “We need this kind of process to restore Boeing’s reputation for engineering excellence,” Nowlin said. “All of us on the Executive Board hope the company’s leadership agrees.”

Along with Winton, Dimas and Nowlin, SPEEA Northwest Regional Vice Presidents Mike Arrington and Jeff Forbes and Director of Strategic Development Rich Plunkett took part in the presentation to Boeing and the FAA. As of the time this SPEEA News went to print, Boeing had not responded to it.