The Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Co, Dennis Muilenburg, has partially blamed the pilots flying the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max that crashed in March 2019. His statement contradicts the preliminary findings published in April.
Muilenburg said the pilot did not completely follow the manufacturer’s emergency procedures, defending the plane’s design and software system which he said met Boeing‘s safety criteria.
The blame game took a new turn during Muilenburg’s address to shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Chicago on Monday.
The Ethiopian Airlines investigators had absolved the Pilots of wrongdoings before and during the emergency landing that caused the crash.
The Investigators recommended that Boeing should review its software MCAS. The report did not fault the American manufacturer because the global aviation guideline is to recommend rather than blame any party that might have caused a crash.
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Recall that another possible cause of the crash was linked to Boeing’s hasty production/upgrading of the Max models.
But Muilenburg’s assertion disagrees with the report’s conclusion: In his statement to the shareholders, he said there was no “technical slip or gap” in building the planes. According to Muilenburg, all systems designed by Boeing are developed with the understanding that “these airplanes are flown in the hands of pilots.”
Muilenburg backtracked from previous statement: His latest comment on the crash is somewhat a retraction of his previous statement when the Ethiopian Airlines crashed. Muilenburg had previously apologised for the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines’ crash, acknowledging a sensor had malfunctioned during both incidents.
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We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 accidents and are relentlessly focused on safety to ensure tragedies like this never happen again.
— Dennis A. Muilenburg (@BoeingCEO) April 4, 2019
Counter-accusation for survival: Muilenburg’s recent statement can be viewed as a defense strategy or fightback after the preliminary report turned the spotlight on Boeing and its 737 Max design, which was the best selling aircraft for Boeing before the crashes.
Before the preliminary result was made public, Aviation industries in over 50 countries, including Nigeria, banned/restricted Boeing 737 Max model planes from their airspace. This caused the order for 737 Max to drop to its lowest, with no order recorded in the first quarter of 2019.
Boeing also suspended the company’s forecast after first-quarter earnings fell behind analysts’ projections. Boeing had been tipped to hit $3.25 but the company’s core earnings settled for $3.16 a share.
Companies that have chosen to stick with Boeing’s Max aircraft are expecting Boeing to bounce back from the crash, with one Airline operator disclosing a possible return in the second half of 2019. If Boeing is to maintain the trust, absolving its aircraft and software system from the cause of the crash seems to be the best path to take, hence the backtrack from Muilenburg.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump recently offered branding advice to Boeing on how to recover from the current crisis.
Boeing didn’t inform Pilots of MCAS system, and according to Muilenburg, there was no reason to. He explained that the software is embedded within the plane, so there isn’t any reason to separately inform them about the MCAS system.
Boeing had been faulted on its training of Pilots on the MCAS system, but Muilenburg said training them wasn’t necessary since they were trained on how to fly the 737 Max aircraft.
“when you train on the airplane, you are being trained on MCAS.”
“It’s not a separate system to be trained on.” Muilenburg said
Meanwhile, Muilenburg survived shareholders vote to oust him as joint chairman and CEO of Boeing. Shareholders voted to keep Muilenburg after rejecting a resolution to strip him of chairmanship, which will see an independent chair takeover.