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Boeing CEO apologizes for ‘grief’ from safety failures amid intense scrutiny at Senate hearing: Live updates

Boeing CEO apologizes for ‘grief’ from safety failures amid intense scrutiny at Senate hearing: Live updates

Boeing CEO Senate
Boeing CEO Senate (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The CEO of Boeing apologized to the families of crash victims, saying the manufacturer was “totally committed” to future saftey improvements, as he began testimony in a special Senate committee.

David Calhoun turned in the chamber to address the families, many of whom carried pictures of their loved ones, and apologized on behalf of all Boeing CEOs “past and present.”

Tuesday’s committee, examining the beleagured aircraft manufacturer’s “broken safety culture” is being chaired by Senator Richard Blumenthal.

It comes as Boeing faces a string of lawsuits relating to manufacturing malpractice, after a door plug of a 737 Max 9 blew off during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

Kicking off the hearing, Senator Blumenthal told Mr Calhoun: “You have a duty to demand the highest safety standards… and [ensure] that ‘speak up’ in fact means speak up means shut up, as it is meant all too often. Boeing needs to stop thinking about the next earning calls and start thinking about the next generation.

“It is not enough for Boeing to shrug its shoulders and say ‘mistakes happen’. This is not an industry where its ok to cut corners.”

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Emotions rise as Boeing Senate hearing ends

Emotions ran high as the special Senate hearing into Boeing concluded, with family members of crash victims shouting at CEO David Calhoun as he left the chamber.

“How could you? How could you?” one woman was heard to shout, as Calhoun left following around two hours of grilling. Calhoun did not appear to reply.

Senator Richard Blumenthal concluded the hearing by reminding Calhoun that the safety issues at Boeing were “a matter of life and death.”

“I think that you’ve certainly demonstrated that you can talk about these changes, but making the changes may well require a different team and accountability is very important for the past, but also going forward for the future.

“We look forward to hearing more from Boeing. I look forward to hearing from the airlines… and we are going to pursue many of these issues, because they are a matter of life and death. And they have profound consequences to our economy and to the traveling public.

Senator Blumenthal went on to thank the hearing attendees, especially the families of the victims, adding that the Senate continued to encourage further whistleblowers to come forward.

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 21:03

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Senator Hawley to Calhoun: ‘You’re the problem’

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley accused Boeing CEO David Calhoun of trying to blame the company’s problems on the employees, telling him “you’re the problem.”

“I don’t think the problem’s with the employees,” Hawley said in another searing attack. “I think the problem’s with you. You. It’s the c-suite. It’s the management. It’s what you’ve done to this company. That’s where the problem is.”

Hawley said Boeing’s machinists and engineers are probably the best in the world.

“You’re the problem,” he said to Calhoun. “And I just hope to God you don’t destroy this company before it can be saved.”

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 20:54

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Whistleblower John Barnett’s death was ‘heartbreaking’ says Boeing CEO

Boeing CEO said that the death of whistleblower John Barnett earlier this year was “heartbreaking”.

Barnett, 62, a quality control engineer at Boeing for 32 years, was found dead at a South Carolina hotel in March, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A coroner later ruled that he died by suicide. At the time he was testifying in a lawsuit against the aircraft manufacturer.

An autopsy report, released by the Charleston County Coroner, stated that a review of Barnett’s medical records and interviews with his family showed he was suffering from “chronic stress” brought on by the lawsuit, as well as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Asked how he felt about the news of Barnett’s death, Calhoun replied: “heartbroken”.

He continued: “I do know that that process was taken up by the governor authorities and was looked into, and they came out with a determination that I know nobody’s satisfied with in the Barnett family, and I understand that.

“I understand why, but it did go through a process, and I know the family will take exception to that process, and I understand it.”

In a previous statement, Barnett’s family said that they hold Boeing responsible for his death, even if the company had not “pulled the trigger”.

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 20:30

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Boeing CEO: ‘We are responsible’

Referring to the Max jets crashes in 2018, in Indonesia, and 2019 in Ethiopia, Senator Blumenthal told David Calhoun: “Let’s put it very bluntly: 346, people died because of a faulty control system and cast system that Boeing knew was going to cause a crash at some point, correct?”

“I would not say the latter part of that sentence,” Calhoun replied. “People at Boeing knew there was a judgment that was made by ourselves, our design engineers and the certification process, that that could never happen, but it did.”

Senator Blumenthal said: “Well now you’re going to make me really angry, because the evidence shows in fact that the engineers working on this plane knew that that faulty control system drove the nose down under certain circumstances, and pilots, in fact… struggled to lift that nose as the plane plummeted toward the sea, and they couldn’t do it because they didn’t know what was happening.”

Calhoun later told the committee: “We are responsible… all the investigations and all the judgments that were ultimately taken, I’m not here to second guess them.

“I believe strongly in accountability.”

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 20:23

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Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 20:12

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David Calhoun accused of ‘strip mining’ Boeing in tense exchange with Senator

Boeing CEO David Calhoun was accused of “strip mining” the company, in a tense exchange with Missouri Senator Josh Hawley.

“You’re strip mining Boeing. It was one of the greatest American companies ever. It has employed thousands of people in my state, and you are strip mining it for profit, shareholder value, and you’re being rewarded for it,” Senator Hawley told him.

“I want to hear from you, because what I hear from you is a lot of ‘this team does that and that.’ I listen to the whistleblowers, but I don’t meet with them, and I’ve heard about all this stuff that you Congress have have meddlesomely asked for because the public wants to see it, gosh darn them.

“But meanwhile, you’re getting paid a heck of a lot of money. It’s unbelievable. If anybody’s coming out of this deal, good. It’s you. Why haven’t you resigned?”

In a measured response, Calhoun responded: “I’m sticking this through. I’m proud of having taken the job. I’m proud of this safety record, and I’m proud of our Boeing people… I am proud of every action we have taken.”

Mr Hawley shot back: “You’re proud of the record?… Wow. Wow. There’s some news for you… Frankly, sir, I think it’s a travesty.”

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 20:05

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Watch live: Boeing CEO faces Senate grilling on airplane safety as new whistleblower emerges

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 19:57

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Calhoun: ‘Our industry doesn’t point fingers at each other’

David Calhoun told the committee: “We cannot allow one unsafe airplane to leave our factory, and so we are totally focused on everything that may have contributed to that.

“I will say this, every issue that occurs out in the field with an airplane. Our industry doesn’t actually point fingers at each other. We all rally around whatever happened.”

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 19:50

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Boeing CEO says employees have been fired over whistleblower ‘retaliation’

David Calhoun told the Senate commitee that supervisors and other Boeing employees had been fired for “retaliating” against those who had spoken out.

When asked about specifics, he told Senator Richard Blumenthal: “I don’t have that number on the tip of my tongue, but I know it. I know it happens. I am happy to follow up and get you that number.

Senator, we have fired people and disciplined people, and I am happy to follow up… I will most certainly get back to you.”

Calhoun said he had not yet spoken to any of the whistleblowers.

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 19:40

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David Calhoun apologizes to families of Boeing crash victims

Boeing CEO David Calhoun kicked off his testimony to the Senate by apologizing to the families of victims of the Max jets crashes in 2018, in Indonesia, and 2019 in Ethiopia.

Turning to face the families, who sat with pictures of their loved ones in the chamber, he apologized on behalf of himself and all previous Boeing CEOs, promising the company was “totally committed” to focusing on future safety.

(CNBC Television)

Mike Bedigan18 June 2024 19:33


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