Web Stories Friday, July 19

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun plans to apologize for Boeing’s recent safety failures in Senate testimony Tuesday and admit to problems with its safety culture, but he’ll push back on claims of some whistleblowers that the company created the problems by retaliating against those who brought safety issues to light.

“Much has been said about Boeing’s culture. We’ve heard those concerns loud and clear,” he will say in prepared remarks released by Boeing Monday afternoon. “Our culture is far from perfect, but we are taking action and making progress. We understand the gravity, and we are committed to moving forward.”

The “far from perfect” remark is a massive understatement. Boeing has been under intense scrutiny with numerous federal investigations and congressional hearings since a January 5 Alaska Air Boeing 737 Max flight had a door plug blow off, leaving a gaping hole in both the plane and Boeing’s reputation.

The hearing Tuesday by the Senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigations is just the latest Congressional hearing this year about safety issues at Boeing, but the first time Calhoun is testifying in his more than four years running the troubled company. At an April 17 hearing Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour testified that Boeing is putting out defective planes because he and others who complain faced pressure not to do so.

“I have serious concerns about the safety of the 787 and 777 aircraft and I’m willing to take on professional risk to talk about them,” Salehpour said in his opening statement. He said when he raised concerns, “I was ignored. I was told not to create delays. I was told, frankly, to shut up.”

Calhoun denies that is the case currently at Boeing in his prepared remarks.

“We are committed to making sure every employee feels empowered to speak up if there is a problem,” he’ll say, according to the prepared remarks. “We also have strict policies in place to prohibit retaliation against employees who come forward. It is our job to listen, regardless of how we obtain feedback, and handle it with the seriousness it deserves.”

Calhoun’s prepared remarks begin with an apology to the family members of the victims of two fatal 737 Max crashes. Some of those family members plan to attend the hearing, which will be Calhoun’s first testimony since becoming Boeing CEO in January 2020.

“We are deeply sorry for your losses,” he’ll say in his opening comments. “Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who step on board our airplanes. Every day we seek to honor the memory of those lost.”

He also apologized to the passengers of the Alaska Air flight in January.

“We deeply regret the impact that the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 accident had on Alaska Airlines’ team and its passengers, and we are grateful to the pilots and crew for safely landing the plane,” he’ll say. “We are thankful that there were no fatalities.”

This could very well be Calhoun’s only time testifying on Capitol Hill. He has announced plans to retire before the end of this year. His successor has yet to be selected.

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