Boeing boss grilled by US lawmakers and victims

During a congressional hearing, Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, faced tough questioning from US senators regarding the company’s culture. Throughout the hearing, family members of plane crash victims shouted at him, adding to the intense atmosphere. Calhoun expressed his apologies to the families and testified that Boeing had learned from past mistakes. He also defended the effectiveness of the process for employee whistleblowers. However, lawmakers criticized him for not doing enough to address a culture of retaliation within the company.

Boeing’s reputation has recently come under scrutiny after a door panel fell off a new 737 Max plane during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, resulting in a significant damage. This incident is part of an ongoing investigation, in which whistleblowers revealed to the Senate in April that the 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777 models have serious production issues.

Calhoun, who assumed the role of CEO in 2020 and plans to step down later this year, acknowledged that some problems stem from an “untrained workforce” during his testimony to the Senate sub-committee.
He attributed the manufacturing issues at the company to the layoffs and high employee turnover experienced by the industry in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.
According to him, the root cause of the problems lies in the lack of training among the workforce.
The company faced severe backlash five years ago when two 737 Max aircraft were involved in separate but nearly identical accidents, resulting in the death of 346 individuals.
Prior to the hearing, several family members of the crash victims held a press conference and attended the hearing, displaying photographs of their loved ones.
Zipporah Kuria, whose father died in the 2019 crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet, traveled from England to Washington DC to personally listen to the Boeing CEO’s statement to the Senate and the world regarding safety improvements made by the corporation.
“I am also urging the US government to hold Boeing and its corporate executives accountable for the tragic loss of 346 lives. We will not stop fighting until justice is served,” stated Clariss Moore, whose daughter perished in the 2019 Ethiopian Boeing crash. During the hearing, Moore confronted Mr. Calhoun, questioning him about her daughter’s final moments on the plane. “Did she cry out for me? Did someone comfort her?” she demanded.
Chairman Richard Blumenthal commenced the tense hearing by expressing gratitude to the family members for their strength and bravery in attending. He also demanded answers from Boeing regarding their efforts to rectify the flawed safety culture.
In response, Mr. Calhoun assured the committee that he had listened to the concerns raised by whistleblowers. However, he admitted to not personally speaking with them and acknowledged instances of company reprisal against several employees. “I am aware that it happens,” he conceded, while acknowledging his lack of knowledge regarding the number of employees terminated or disciplined for speaking out about safety issues.
At the hearing, Mr. Calhoun stood up and faced the families to express his sincere apologies for their losses. With his voice filled with emotion, he acknowledged the devastating impact of their experiences, stating, “These losses are deeply distressing, and I take responsibility for the pain and suffering we have caused.”