Boeing 737 Max: CEO fails in front of US Congress
The CEO of Boeing, the manufacturer of the 737 MAX, which has suffered two crashes resulting in the death of 340 passengers and crew and the grounding of all planes appeared in front of the USA Senate on Tuesday 29 October (yesterday).
The grounding of the manufacturers most popular model has had a severe impact on the companies bottom line, and its reputation for engineering, safety and quality control.
What we know
We already know that the crashes were most likely the result of a combination of problems with the design and software, not to mention pilot training for the 737 MAX.
More recently it was revealed that test pilots on simulators had reported problems similar to those experienced during the two crashes way back in testing in 2016.
What the hearing uncovered
Under questioning from Republican Senator Ted Cruz (not my favourite conservative politician) Muilenberg, from Boeing appeared to be a CEO with his hands off the wheel. In fact, it would appear his hands were largely on another planet!
Despite the instant messaging about concerns during the safety tests in 2016, Muilenberg raised the collective Senate enquiries eyebrows by admitting that he was not aware of these messages until about the same time as they were made public.
He was also not overseeing the appropriate reporting of this information to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) but left it to his counsel to report appropriately. To the senate, this sounded a bit like being absent on duty.
Commentators have also registered surprise that Muilenger didn’t come to the enquiry with a bunch of specific recommendation on how the reliance by the FAA on certification work by the aircraft manufacturers could be made to work better. It wasn’t like that couldn’t have been predicted!
Want to know more?
Here is some of the more interesting reporting and commenting on this issue:
- Bloomberg has a couple of articles worth reading
- Politico has some great coverage, including him skirting the issue of whether Boeing lobbied President Trump to delay/avoid the grounding of the 737 MAX
- Washington Post has a longish piece with video
We have already seen one head roll at Boeing – if I were Muilenberg, I wouldn’t be spending too much time near sharp objects.