US aviation regulator employees report ‘strong’ industry pressure, raise alarms over safety priorities

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety employees reported facing “strong” external pressure from industry and raised alarms the agency does not always prioritize air safety, according to an independent survey seen by Reuters on Friday. The survey report gives ammunition to critics who argue in the aftermath of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that the U.S. aviation safety regulator has not done enough to insulate employees from industry pressure.

The survey quoted one anonymous employee as saying that the message was, “Don’t rock the boat with Boeing.” The report found employees believe aviation safety leaders “painted ‘too rosy of a picture'” after the 737 MAX crashes “and did not acknowledge the needed changes to FAA safety-related policies and processes.”

The survey, turned over to Congress on Friday, found that many aviation safety employees believe that “senior leaders are overly concerned with achieving the business-oriented outcomes of industry stakeholders and are not held accountable for safety-related decisions.”

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