It’s been a bad year for Boeing. Now its CEO is out. Dennis Mullenburg was fired yesterday, in part, Boeing said, because customers and regulators no longer trusted the company’s decision-making. The 737 Max, the company’s bestselling commercial jet, has been grounded worldwide since March after two fatal crashes killed 346 people. 

Boeing has struggled to get the plane back in the air, despite efforts to clear a fix with software regulators. Earlier this month, it said it would temporarily stop producing the jet in January. If that weren’t enough, a former employee testified before Congress earlier this month that Boeing ignored safety concerns when building the 737 Max. 

Boeing Chairman David Calhoun will take over as CEO on January 13. The challenge for him will be convincing regulators that the 737 Max is safe to fly – and regaining the trust of customers. 

There has also been a knock on effect on Boeing staff, with management, executives, unionized engineers and white-collar workers not receiving an annual salary top-up this year.  Seattle-based pilot and aviation safety expert Karlene Petitt tells Radio Five Live’s Wake up to Money: “It is devastating for the company; shutting down aircraft.  

"They have also said employees are not going to get their bonuses this year. We think of the company as an entity, there are people who had no part of this, who are being impacted.”  

It comes as US lawmakers accused Boeing of engaging in a “pattern of deliberate concealment” as it sought approval for its 737 Max 8 plane to fly.  he accusation came as Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg was quizzed by the Senate Commerce Committee.

Senators said they had serious concerns that Boeing put profits over safety as it rushed to get clearance. Two deadly 737 Max 8 crashes killed a total of 346 people. Mr Muilenburg admitted the firm had made "mistakes".


A series of failures led to the crash of a Lion Air flight, which killed 189 people and led to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, a report has found.

Investigators said faults by Boeing, Lion Air and pilots caused the crash.

Five months after the disaster in October last year, an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing all 157 people on board, which led to the grounding of the entire 737 Max fleet.

Faults with the plane's design have been linked to both crashes.

On Friday, air crash investigators in Indonesia released their final report, detailing the list of events that caused the Lion Air jet to plunge into the Java Sea.

"From what we know, there are nine things that contributed to this accident," Indonesian air accident investigator Nurcahyo Utomo told reporters at a news conference. 

"If one of the nine hadn't occurred, maybe the accident wouldn't have occurred."


  • The 353-page report found the jet should have been grounded before departing on the fatal flight because of an earlier cockpit issue.  However, because the issue was not recorded properly the plane was allowed to take off without the fault being fixed, it said.
  • Further, a crucial sensor - which had been bought from a repair shop in Florida - had not been properly tested, the report found. On Friday, the US aviation regulator revoked the companys certification.  The sensor fed information to the plane's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System - or MCAS. That software, which is designed to help prevent the 737 Max from stalling, has been a focus for investigators trying to find the cause of both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.  
  • Indonesian investigators identified issues with the system, which repeatedly pushed the plane's nose down, leaving pilots fighting for control.
  • It showed there were incorrect assumptions about how the MCAS control system would behave and that the deficiencies had been highlighted during training.
  • Further, the report found that the first officer, who had performed poorly in training, struggled to run through a list of procedures that he should have had memorized.
  • He was flying the plane just before it entered into the fatal dive, but the report said the captain had not briefed him properly when he handed over the controls as they struggled to keep the plane in the air.

The report also found that 31 pages were missing from the planes maintenance log.  Indonesian investigators have previously said mechanical and design problems were key factors in the crash of the Lion Air plane.

This report describes a catalogue of failures - from poor communication to bad design to inadequate flying skills - which culminated in the deaths of 189 people.

There are lots of what-ifs here. If the crew of the previous days flight had given a more detailed description of the problems they'd faced, the aircraft might never have taken off on its fatal flight. And if the captain, who'd successfully kept the plane in the air - despite the intervention of a rogue automated system he didn't understand - hadn't handed over to his less-capable first officer, disaster might still have been avoided.

As Boeing's chief executive Dennis Muilenburg has repeatedly stated, there was a chain of events. But at the heart of that chain was MCAS - a control system that the pilots didn't know about, and which was vulnerable to a single sensor failure. 

Boeing - and regulators - allowed the system to be designed in this way and didn't change it after the Lion Air crash, leading to a further disaster. And that means that while the report clearly points to serious failures by a parts supplier and by the airline itself, it is Boeing that will bear the greatest share of responsibility.

How has Boeing responded?

Indonesian authorities laid out some recommendations for Boeing in the report, including that it redesign MCAS and provide adequate information about it in pilot manuals and training. 

In a statement, Boeing said it was "addressing" the recommendations from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee.

The planemaker said it was "taking actions to enhance the safety of the 737 Max to prevent the flight control conditions that occurred in this accident from ever happening again". 

On Tuesday, the firm ousted Kevin McAllister, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, making him the most senior official to leave the company since the two crashes.

Boeing also said it expected the 737 Max to be re-certified for flying by the end of the year. The company said "we look forward to continuing to work together" with Lion Air in the future.

A Lion Air spokesman said the crash was an "unthinkable tragedy" and it was essential to take immediate corrective actions to ensure a similar accident never occurred again.

The pressure on Boeing to explain what it knew about the problems with the 737 Max has intensified. There were revelations this month that employees had exchanged messages about issues with MCAS while the plane was being certified in 2016. 

In documents provided by Boeing to lawmakers, a pilot wrote that he had run into unexpected trouble during tests. He said he had "basically lied to the regulators [unknowingly]".

Boeing said this week it had developed a training update and that it expected regulators to allow the planes to return to the skies before the beginning of 2020.

The grounding of the 737 Max has taken a toll on the planemaker.

Profits more than halved to $895m (£687m) in the third quarter and the firm said it would cut production of its 787 Dreamliner, blaming trade uncertainties.

Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg was also stripped of his title as chairman by the board earlier this month, but remains as chief executive.


06-07-2019 aljacobsladder.com