Boeing CEO to Congress: ‘we understand and deserve this scrutiny’
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told Congress on Tuesday the company deserves the scrutiny it is receiving on the 737 MAX after two crashes and a worldwide grounding of the airplane.
“I want to answer all of your questions and convey to the world that we are doing everything in our power to make our airplanes and our industry safer and prevent an accident like this from ever happening again,” he told the Senate Commerce Committee.
“In the months since the accidents, there has been much criticism of Boeing and its culture. We understand and deserve this scrutiny,” he said.
The appearance comes on the first anniversary of the first crash. Seated behind him at the hearing are family members of victims from the crashes, which killed a combined 346 people — Lion Air plane last October and an Ethiopian Airlines jet in March.
Muilenburg apologized to the family members, and told them, “We made mistakes and we got some things wrong.”
Investigators and the company have linked the crashes to a flawed stabilization system that repeatedly pushed the planes’ noses down and overwhelmed the pilots.
Senators are expected to press Muilenburg on how Boeing allowed the faulty design, which was based on a single sensor with no redundancy, to market.
“We cannot have a race for commercial airplanes become a race to the bottom when it comes to safety,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, the committee’s top Democrat, said.
Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, pressed Muilenburg on why the company only recently provided investigators with internal emails and instant messages that raised concerns about “the level of coziness” between FAA and Boeing.
Muilenburg said he was aware some of the messages existed prior to the second crash, but did not provide a direct answer as to why the messages were not disclosed.
On his way into the hearing, Muilenburg told reporters he understands the view of some victims’ family members that he should resign from his post, but was not involved in any such conversations. The company’s board has already stripped him of his chairmanship title.
Indonesian investigators on Friday released their final report on the first 737 MAX crash, with sharp criticism of Boeing and the FAA. Several other investigations are also expected to report soon, including an international panel convened by the Federal Aviation Administration that recommended changes to how planes are certified. There is also the looming criminal investigation by the US Justice Department.
Boeing continues to say it hopes the plane is cleared for flight before the end of the year, while the grounding weighs heavily on its bottom line.
This story is breaking and will be updated.