Boeing CEO prepares to face questioning a year on from first Max tragedy

Committee investigating Max tragedies call for regulatory reform as Dennis Muilenburg prepares for two days of testimony
737 MAX, Boeing, Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg will be placed under the spotlight on Wednesday when he appears in front of a committee investigating two 737 Max crashes, the first of which happened a year ago today.

Chaired by top lawmaker Peter DeFazio, the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee will call on US aviation regulators to reform how planes are certified.

International regulators found that more certification work than originally planned had been outsourced on the 737 Max. A report by key lawmakers said: “FAA involvement in the certification of MCAS would likely have resulted in design changes that would have improved safety.”

DeFazio observed that Boeing’s investors pressured the manufacturer into rushing to build its 737 Max planes so it could compete with Airbus.

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737 Max return penned for January at the earliest by European regulators

Both US and EU regulators have banned the Max from flying commercially and it is widely agreed that the plane will not return to service until the beginning of 2020 at the earliest.

Many airlines are suffering financially from the decision to ground all Max planes until they are deemed safe to fly commercially.

Muilenburg will tell the committee on Wednesday that Boeing realises it has to convince airlines as well as regulators that its Max is now safe to enter service.

In his opening statement he will say: “We know the grounding of the MAX is hurting our airline customers, their pilots and flight attendants, and most importantly, the people who fly on our airplanes.

“Our airline customers and their pilots have told us they don’t believe we communicated enough about MCAS—and we’ve heard them.”

“We have learned and are still learning from these accidents," Muilenburg plans to say. "We know we made mistakes and got some things wrong.”

He will add: “In the months since the accidents, there has been much criticism of Boeing and its culture. We understand and deserve this scrutiny.

“We’ve dedicated all resources necessary to ensure that the improvements to the 737 MAX are comprehensive and thoroughly tested. That includes spending over 100,000 engineering and test hours on their development.”

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