The Dallas Morning News
Boeing CEO calls 737 crisis ‘heart-wrenching’
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg took to a stage in Dallas on Thursday and opened up about his experience running a company at the center of one of the biggest corporate crises in history.
“Frankly, these last few weeks have been the most heartwrenching of my career,” Muilenburg told an inviteonly audience at the second Bush Institute Leadership Forum in Dallas.
All eyes have been on Boeing as it works to fix antistall software on its 737 Max 8 jets that’s been blamed in two airline crashes that killed 346 people. Airlines around the world, including locallybased Southwest and American, have grounded the planes since midmarch.
“We continue to mourn those who were on board and extend our deepest sympathies to their loved ones,” said Muilenburg, who’s led Boeing since 2015 and worked there since 1985. “All of us feel the immense gravity of these events across our company.”
In the weeks since the Ethiopian Airlines accident unleashed investigations and regulatory scrutiny, Muilenburg said he’s spent even more time with his teams emphasizing the importance of answering questions throughout the company.
Boeing crews have made 96 flights to test a software update, put
ting it through more than 159 hours of airtime and holding flightsimulator sessions with pilots and airline officials, Muilenburg said. He’s even flown on one of the flights himself.
He wouldn’t give a timeline for when the planes might return to service. The U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies are still investigating how the Boeing 737 Max 8 was developed and certified.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which will consider whether the plane can resume flying in the U.S., plans to meet Friday with safety officials and pilots from American, Southwest and United, the three U.S. carriers that were using the Max jet.
In the deadly Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes, faulty information from a sensor caused the plane’s antistall automation to kick in when it wasn’t needed, pushing the plane’s nose down. Pilots struggled to counter the plane’s actions but were unable to avoid crashing.
Regulators in Europe and China are conducting their own reviews of the plane, and company insiders and analysts expect foreign regulators to take longer than the FAA to approve the Max’s return to service.
Boeing representatives have visited the United Kingdom, Singapore and China to discuss its work on the Max with pilots and airline officials, including demonstrating the software update in flight simulators, Muilenburg said.