Boeing CEO Faces Senate Heat Over Deadly Failures

The CEO of beleaguered aerospace company Boeing is facing a Senate hearing this week due to serious concerns about safety and production issues at company factories.

An Apology from Boeing

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Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is set to apologize for the failures of the world’s largest airplane manufacturer at a US Senate sub-committee hearing this week.

Defending His Legacy

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Calhoun has been engulfed in a PR nightmare that has repeatedly questioned the company’s safety and security during his tenure. On Tuesday, he will be expected to defend his legacy in front of a board of Senators who are accusing the company of prioritizing profit over public safety.

Prepared Statement

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Pre-planned remarks have been released showing that Calhoun plans to both admit to faults in the company’s culture and structure, while also defending Boeing against claims that it sought to silence and punish corporate whistleblowers.

“Our Culture is Far from Perfect”

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“Much has been said about Boeing’s culture,” the prepared written statement said. “We’ve heard those concerns loud and clear. Our culture is far from perfect, but we are taking action and making progress.”

“We Must Get It Right Every Time”

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“I come from this industry, and I know full well that this is an industry where we simply must get it right, every time,” it continued. The statement will be given to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Is It Enough?

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However, for many hearing and reading his statement, the comment on Boeing’s corporate culture may come across as flippant considering the grave concerns and intense scrutiny that have shadowed Calhoun and the company this year.

Alaska Airlines Incident

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Manufacturing and safety issues at the global aerospace giant were catapulted into the international spotlight in January when a door plug was blown off the side of a Boeing 737 Max-9 model during an Alaska Airlines flight.

Investigations and Hearings

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Since then, Boeing has faced an increasing number of federal investigations and hearings to determine whether the company has adhered to safety manufacturing procedures and whether production can resume.

Forced Grounding of 737 Max-9

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The incident also led to the forced grounding of a fleet of 737 Max-9 models and has seriously delayed the production and delivery of new models, leaving major US airlines in the lurch and forcing customers to bear the brunt of the problem with much higher fares.

Production Issues With Various Models

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In April federal investigators informed the Senate that a number of Boeing models had been found to have concerning manufacturing issues.

Retaliating Against Whistleblowers

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Then, investigations found that a number of employees-turned-whistleblowers had described a “commonplace” practice of Boeing retaliating against them for reporting safety issues to authorities.

Strict Policies Now in Place

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Calhoun is expected to address this matter and to reassure the sub-committee of the “strict policies to prohibit retaliation” against whistleblowers that the company has put in place.

346 Deaths Over Two Years

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This catastrophic year for Boeing has had a compounding effect on the company’s already flagging reputation, after two 737 Max aircrafts crashed in 2018 and 2019 respectively, causing a combined 346 deaths.

Apologizing to the Families

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Calhoun will also acknowledge these affected families during his testimony on Tuesday. His prepared statement opens with a direct apology: “We are deeply sorry for your losses,” it reads. “Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who step on board our airplanes.”

Sub-Committee Chair Speaks

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Senator Richard Blumenthal, the chair of the sub-committee, gave a prepared statement of his own prior to the hearing.

“Putting Profit Ahead of Safety”

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“Years of putting profits ahead of safety, stock price ahead of quality, and production speed ahead of responsibility has brought Boeing to this moment of reckoning, and its hollow promises can no longer stand,” he wrote.

“A Broken Safety Culture”

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“Boeing must repair a broken safety culture and that is management’s task ahead,’ Blumenthal added.

Waiting for a New CEO

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Despite facing the senate committee to defend the company, Calhoun himself has already resigned as CEO of the company, effective at the end of the year and once an adequate replacement has been found.

Investors Looking Ahead

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Investors have now moved their focus from Calhoun to a potential successor, as they stare down a 32% drop in share prices over the course of the last six months.

Company Responds

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The company itself has issued a statement on the upcoming senate hearing, asserting its readiness to “share the actions we have taken, and will continue to take, to strengthen safety and quality and ensure that commercial air travel remains the safest form of transportation.”

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