Boeing CEO grilled over fatal plane crashes, workplace culture at US Senate hearing

Boeing CEO grilled over fatal plane crashes, workplace culture at US Senate hearing

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun has faced the music in front of a US Senate inquiry in relation to two fatal crashes and recent workplace culture concerns.

Boeing 737 MAX planes were involved in fatal crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 killing a total of 346 people on board.

Lion Air crash report faults Boeing 737 MAX design, certification and pilot training

In more recent months, the carrier’s workplace culture – or lack of it – has come under fire after the door an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-9 ‘blew out’ kicked off a string of mishaps with Boeing aircraft.

Calhoun took the top job at Boeing in 2020 after the pair of fatal incidents, though begun his opening statement with an apology to the families involved.

“I apologise for the grief we have caused,” he said. “We are focused on safety.”

A matter of life and death 

Senator Richard Blumenthal pressed Calhoun who is set to resign at the end of the year.

“The issues before us today have real human consequences [and] real life and death results,” he said.

Of the the Alaska Airlines incident, Blumenthal said: “(The) façade quite literally blew off the hollow shell that had been Boeing’s promises to the world.”

“Mr Calhoun, you were brought in turn this company around,” he continued. “But instead of asking what has caused Boeing’s safety culture to erode, you and your colleagues in the C-suite have deflected blame, looked the other way, and catered to your shareholders instead.”

Calhoun defended the airline and insisted on a heightened focus on preventing safety issues.

“We have revamped our engineering practices at large,” he said.

Calhoun says whistle blower process ‘works’

The hearing also brought Boeing’s workplace culture and practices into question with Blumenthal asking Calhoun about his thoughts surrounding the suicide of a Boeing whistle blower in March.

Calhoun said he was ‘heartbroken’ and that the company takes employee concerns seriously and urges staff to talk to supervisors about issues.

“We have a process it works,” he said.

Blumenthal said he would ‘beg to differ’.

After the hearing, Blumenthal revealed he was not satisfied with the CEO’s answers and that questioning will continue.

“I have a lot more questions that need to be answered and we’re going to be pursuing our investigation,” he told the BBC. 

Feature image: New York Post YouTube – ‘Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun faces grilling at Senate hearing’

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