Boeing ups employee incentives to build safer planes by tying bonuses to safety and quality goals

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The company behind the 737 Max, a plane its own test pilots infamously derided as designed by clowns and supervised by monkeys, wants to be known for quality and safety once again. 

In January, a door plug in the fuselage of an almost new Boeing 737 Max 9 was sucked off due to multiple bolts missing.

The Alaska Airscare prompted a spike in usage of travel aggregator Kayak’s option to filter out flights that employ Boeing aircraft. 

In a statement to Fortune, Boeing confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that it had informed staff on Wednesday its nonunion workforce, comprising over 100,000 employees, would now receive greater financial incentives for building safer planes.

“It’s very, very important to drive the outcomes that we’re all committed to,” operations chief Stephanie Pope told employees, “and that’s to deliver a safe and quality product to our customer.”

Boeing’s core commercial aerospace business responsible for the string of safety scandals is most affected by the changes.

Now 60% of the annual bonus for civil aircraft staff will be tied to hitting operational targets, up from less than 25%, Boeing said.

Previously the ratio was almost the exact opposite, with 75% of their bonus coming from the achievement of specific financial milestones.

More importantly, however, the company added that for 2024 the operational metrics it will use will be focused exclusively on safety and quality.  

The decision comes amid rising pressure by the Biden administration, which recently made the unprecedented decision to cap the number of aircraft the company manufacturers in a month until it can prove those it does build are safe for people to fly. 

Speaking with CNBC on Wednesday, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg pledged his Federal Aviation Authority would “keep Boeing under a microscope” in the meantime. 

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