Boeing CEO Muilenburg Grilled On Plane Crashes for Second Day

Posted: Oct 30, 2019 3:25 PM
Boeing CEO Muilenburg Grilled On Plane Crashes for Second Day

Source: Tim Vizer/Belleville News-Democrat via AP

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to face a second day of pointed criticism and tough questions from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The hearings marked Muilenburg's first public appearance since two Boeing 737 MAX airplanes crashed just moments after taking off. The two crashes killed all 346 people on board. 

On Tuesday, Muilenburg testified before the Senate Commerce Committee. His testimony came one year to the day that a 737 MAX airplane crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff in October 2018, killing all 189 people on board. In March 2019, just five months later, another 737 MAX airplane crashed in a remote part of Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board. 

Both crashes have been linked to problems with the 737 MAX airplane's MCAS sensors. The MCAS sensors would erroneously activate, causing the nose of the plane to point down. In March 2019, the United States grounded all 737 MAX aircrafts and other countries quickly followed suit, leading to a worldwide ban.

On Tuesday, Senators focused their questions on Boeing's knowledge of problems with the MCAS sensor. Sen. Cruz  (R-TX) grilled CEO Muilenburg over a troubling exchange between two Boeing employees. The exchange suggests Boeing knew or should have known about safety concerns with its 737 MAX aircraft. 

In his opening statement on Wednesday, before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Muilenburg apologized to the family members of the victims who were in attendance. Muilenburg stated that Boeing remains committed to making the necessary improvements of its planes, saying Boeing has already taken considerable steps to improve the MCAS sensor responsible for the accidents. Muilenberg said the 737 MAX aircrafts should remain grounded until regulators are "completely satisfied" with the aircraft's safety. "We can and must do better," Muilenburg acknowledged.  

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure put out a series of tweets while the hearing was underway, laying out six themes the Committee planned to focus on, criticizing the culture at Boeing and the troubling message between Boing employees suggesting Boeing withheld damaging information from the FAA. 

Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) said he was upset to learn that Muilenburg had received a $15 million dollar bonus after Boeing planes killed 346 people.  

Multiple members of the Committee called on Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to step down.