Boeing boss Dave Calhoun admits the culture is ‘not perfect’

image caption, Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun will address US lawmakers on Tuesday

  • author, Charlotte Edwards
  • stock, BBC Business Correspondent

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun He will tell U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday that he understands concerns about its safety culture after raising a mid-air emergency alert in January.

In prepared remarks ahead of a US Senate subcommittee hearing, he said: “Our culture is not perfect, but we are taking action and moving forward. We understand gravity.”

The company has been in the spotlight since an unused door fell from a brand new 737 Max plane during a flight operated by Alaska Airlines, leaving a gap in its side.

As part of an ongoing investigation, Boeing whistleblowers told the Senate in April about serious manufacturing problems with the 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner and 777 models.

But concerns about Boeing’s approaches to safety and quality control conditions at its factories are not new.

Five years ago, the company faced heavy criticism after two 737 Max planes went down in separate but nearly identical crashes, killing 346 people.

Mr Calhoun is expected to apologize to the victims’ families on Tuesday, testifying before the committee for the first time during his tenure as chief executive.

“We are so sorry for your losses,” her prepared opening statement read. “Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who board our aircraft.”

He became Boeing’s chief executive in 2020, when the company was reeling after a string of fatal accidents.

13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia, the plane crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board.

In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines flight, a Boeing 737 Max, crashed six minutes after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

All 157 people on board were killed and both crashes have been linked to faulty flight control systems.

Since the 2018 and 2019 incidents, family members of those killed, some of whom are still working on settling legal claims against the company.

Many are due to appear for trial on Tuesday.

Zipporah Kuria, who lost her father in an accident in 2019, is one of them.

“I flew from England to Washington, D.C., to hear first-hand what Boeing’s chief executive was telling the Senate and the world about the safety improvements made at the company,” he said in a statement ahead of the hearing.

He further said that we will not rest until we see justice.

Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, the committee’s chairman, Senator Richard Blumenthal, said in a statement: “Boeing needs to fix its broken safety culture, and that’s the administration’s job.”

“Years of prioritizing profit over safety, stock price over quality, and production speed over responsibility have brought Boeing to this moment of reckoning, and its empty promises can no longer stand,” he added.

“I’m in this business and I know very well that it’s a business where we have to get it right every time,” he wrote.

In the wake of the incident, the company has cooperated with investigations by U.S. authorities, as well as conducting “stand-downs” at plants to listen to employees and address potential issues, he said.

In May, the company presented a plan to regulators aimed at improving the quality of its aircraft.

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