Case Study on Ethics

Read the following case study, then answer the questions below. 


You are a programmer who works for a major airplane manufacturer. Your company has spent years building a new line of planes. After many delays and overruns, the project is way behind schedule and way over budget–by millions of dollars.

The company just finished its last round of acceptance testing. Finally, the first shipment of planes is scheduled to go out on Monday. However, it’s Friday afternoon and you just noticed what you think is a major flaw in the flight control software. It’s possible that the tests that were run may not have accounted for this particular situation, so the flaw may have been missed by the tests. However, to complicate matters, the flight control software was not one of the systems that you worked on, so you can’t be 100% sure. You have also reported issues in the past that turned out not to be problems.

You call your boss and ask your boss what to do. Your boss, who is about to leave on vacation, tells you “Forget it; it’s not a problem,” and hangs up. However, you fear that that this problem could be something serious.

If you report the problem, it may delay the project by months and cost millions of dollars to retest and re-certify the program. Many people with a stake in this project will be furious–including the airlines waiting for these planes, the shareholders, company executives, and even your own coworkers. Additionally, your boss will be very angry with you, since you will be going above his head. Furthermore, the company is under intense media scrutiny because of the delays so far.  If there’s another delay in the project, your company would receive lots of bad publicity. You fear that even if you are right, the consequences of reporting this problem could damage your career.

On the other hand, you worry that this flaw could compromise the safety of the airplanes, with unforeseeable consequences. Of course, no one would ever be able to implicate you. You have very little time to decide, since the planes will ship in 3 days.  


What do you do? Justify your decision on the basis of your moral and work obligations, the consequences of your choices, and your personal ideals. Please explain your reasoning. Explain what you considered while making your decision. Write at least 150 words. 


Here’s how you’ll be graded: 

  • Assignment submission is well-developed, thorough, and detailed. (6 points)
  • Assignment submission responds to all parts of the assigned texts or prompt. If a word count is mentioned, the assignment meets the word count. (2 points)
  • Assignment shows evidence of proofreading and editing. (2 points).