Boeing CEO Faces Senate Heat, Didn’t Speak to Whistleblowers

The CEO of Boeing Dave Calhoun faced significant heat from the U.S Senate this week, with United Airlines also signalling a lack of trust after the session.
Photo Credit: Boeing.

The CEO of Boeing Dave Calhoun faced significant heat from the U.S Senate this week over accountability and safety at the planemaker.

This week was an important one for the American planemaker in terms of accountability and commitments to safety.

As noted by The Air Current, the planemaker knew they were going to lose in the hearing, but they had control over how much they would lose.

Boeing CEO Releases Letter Ahead of Senate Session…

The Senate hearing this week started off with written testimony from Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun:

Introductory Remarks…

“Before I begin my opening remarks, I would like to speak directly to those who lost loved ones on Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.”

“I want to personally apologize, on behalf of everyone at Boeing. We are deeply sorry for your losses.”

“Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who step on board our airplanes.”

“Every day we seek to honor the memory of those lost through a steadfast commitment to safety and quality.”

“Nearly every second, a Boeing commercial or defense product takes off and lands somewhere around the world, making us responsible for the safety of millions of passengers and flight crews every day, including our men and women in uniform.”

“Aerospace safety is built on a robust industrywide system that relies on self-disclosure, accountability, and continuous learning.”

“This scrutiny – to be held to the highest standard – is fundamental to why commercial aviation is the safest mode of transportation today.”

“I come from this industry, and I know full well that this is an industry where we simply must get it right, every time.”

“I’ve served as President and CEO of Boeing since January 2020.”

“I joined the aviation industry as president and CEO of GE Aircraft Engines.”

“My introduction to aerospace safety was after the tragic accident in 1989 of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa, due to an uncontained engine failure.”

“It led to sweeping changes in our industry’s safety management processes and contributed significantly to flight safety.”

“From this experience, I understand the gravity of Boeing’s role in upholding the integrity of aerospace safety in our industry.”

On Alaska Airlines Flight 1282…

“We deeply regret the impact that the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 accident had on Alaska Airlines’ team and its passengers, and we are grateful to the pilots and crew for safely landing the plane.”

“We are thankful that there were no fatalities.”

“From the beginning, we took responsibility and cooperated transparently with the NTSB and the FAA in their respective investigations.”

“In our factories and in our supply chain, we took immediate action to ensure the specific circumstances that led to this accident would not happen again.”

“Importantly, we went beyond to look comprehensively at our quality and manufacturing systems.”

“To launch this more comprehensive look, we’ve held stand downs in our plants, we have listened to our employees and acted on their ideas.”

“We have brought in an independent quality expert to assess our processes.”

“And, we have announced our intention to re-acquire Spirit AeroSystems, the manufacturer of our fuselage.”

Safety Measures Taken…

“In consideration of these inputs, Boeing developed a comprehensive safety and quality action plan with specific metrics, which we will use to hold ourselves accountable and the FAA will use to provide the oversight required.”

“Most importantly, it is our people – over 170,000 around the world – who are our greatest strength.”

“We’ve asked every one of our employees to consider themselves an aviation safety advocate.”

“We are committed to making sure every employee feels empowered to speak up if there is a problem.”

“We also have strict policies in place to prohibit retaliation against employees who come forward.”

“It is our job to listen, regardless of how we obtain feedback, and handle it with the seriousness it deserves.”

“Much has been said about Boeing’s culture.”

“We’ve heard those concerns loud and clear.”

“Our culture is far from perfect, but we are taking action and making progress.”

“We understand the gravity, and we are committed to moving forward with transparency and accountability, while elevating employee engagement.”

“Our airplanes have carried the equivalent of more than double the population of the planet.”

“Getting this right is critical for our company, for the customers who fly our planes every day, and for our country.”

“We are part of a global ecosystem – composed of manufacturers, suppliers, airlines, airports, air traffic controllers, and regulators – that are all committed to learning from every incident.”

“It is this relentless focus on improvement that has led to our industry’s unparalleled safety record.”

“And it is with that mindset, we are taking comprehensive action today to strengthen safety and quality.”

“And, we know, as America’s premier aerospace manufacturer, this is what you and the flying public have every right to expect from us.”

Tackling the Issues in the Session…

The CEO of Boeing Dave Calhoun faced significant heat from the U.S Senate this week over accountability and safety at the planemaker.
Photo Credit: Boeing.

In the Senate session, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun was pressed on a range of issues at the company.

As The Session Started…

Calhoun rejected blame for some of the recent flight issues, being the extreme turbulence and engine covers falling off.

Within this, he states that the manufacturer has learned from their mistakes, despite continued issues.

He reaffirmed, following Senator-based pressure about people being nervous to fly on the aircraft, that it’s unacceptable for even one unsafe airplane to leave the Boeing factory.

Talking Salary…

After this, the session then turned to the compensation of Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun.

Senators were keen to point out that he will be paid a compensation of $32.8m, a 45% increase on the previous year.

And within that, Senators asked him why he deserves this salary despite all of the issues, and even went as far as stating that Calhoun is asset-stripping the business and cutting corners to generate a profit.

Asked On Why He Hasn’t Resigned…

Asked about why he hasn’t resigned now, Calhoun mentioned that he has already announced his intent to step down at the end of the year.

After this, family members of victims stood up and displayed large pictures of their family members to the Boeing CEO.

He stood up and apologised once again to the families.

Following this, Calhoun stated that he believes individuals should be held accountable for the issues that have taken place.

Not too long after, Republican Senator Josh Hawley stated that the problems with Boeing are “at the top” and to the CEO, he said: “You’re the problem”.

A Poor Take on the Whistleblowing Process?

Calhoun was also laughed at when he mentioned that the process for whistleblowing works.

This comes following the death of a whistleblower, John Barnett.

On the recent Dutch Roll incident, the Boeing CEO confirmed that it is not related to the ongoing issues.

He did also confirm that Boeing had fired whistleblowers who spoke out about issues at the company.

Furthermore, he also stated that he didn’t speak to any of the whistleblowers, which produced a damaging perspective further.

As the session closed, Calhoun reaffirmed that he was committed to “sticking this through”, no matter the outcome.

Ex-United Airlines CEO Criticises Calhoun…

The CEO of Boeing Dave Calhoun faced significant heat from the U.S Senate this week, with United Airlines also signalling a lack of trust after the session.
Dylan T, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Following this session, CNBC spoke to the former CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz.

He didn’t believe Calhoun was convincing, and believes it will affect Boeing’s market share:

“The takeaway was, very simply, leadership is all about trust and the lack of trust in Boeing and what it’s done was palpable and clear in the way questions were asked, the way it was received by the audience”.

“If you’re an airline and you need aircraft, this isn’t a place you’re waiting for aircraft…there is a big hole that we will have to climb out of.”

Furthermore, it could be suggested that Munoz’s words will be a theme amongst operators.

United Airlines themselves have asked Boeing and the CEO Dave Calhoun to stop building the 737 MAX 10s they have on order.

The airline is also struggling with delays as they asked pilots to take unpaid leave back in April.

What Next For Boeing and It’s CEO?

Photo Credit: Boeing.

Overall, the Senate session involving Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun went as expected.

He was significantly grilled on the pressing issues taking place at the planemaker, and was grilled hard.

There doesn’t seem to be an indication that he will resign sooner than the end of the year.

This is due to him wanting to stick this through.

However, his priority for the rest of the year needs to be the restoration of trust with the flying public.

Because without this, Boeing is set to fail even further under his leadership. They cannot wait much longer.

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By James Field - Editor in Chief 11 Min Read
11 Min Read
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