Boeing’s chief executive has said he will not resign after two plane crashes that cost 346 lives, vowing to “re-earn the trust” of customers and passengers.
Addressing the aircraft manufacturer’s annual meeting in Chicago, Dennis Muilenburg started by holding a moment of silence for those that died when two of the company’s 737 MAX 8 passenger jets crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
Asked by Sky News during a news conference if he had considered standing down, he replied: “My clear intent is to continue to lead on the front of quality and safety and integrity”.
Mr Muilenburg said he and his staff “deeply regret” the accidents which “weigh heavily on us as a company”.
“We know that lives depend on what we do and we take that very, very seriously. I’m very focused on safety going forward. It’s important that as a company that we have those clear priorities, that we’re taking the right actions, that we have the right culture. I am strongly invested in that.
“We deeply regret what happened with these accidents. It gets to the core of our company… to the core of our people, they care about this business and the safety of our aeroplanes. That’s what I’m focused on.”
In March this year, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after taking off from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.
Last October, all 189 people on a Lion Air Flight, which also involved a Boeing 737 MAX 8, died when the plane came down into the sea off Indonesia.
The second crash prompted a worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX fleet last month.
Investigations into the accidents, both within the last eight months, showed what Mr Muilenburg has earlier admitted was a “common link” to the 737 MAX’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software.
The device, which pushes the plane’s nose down when the possibility of an aerodynamic stall is detected, met safety standards, he insisted.
While refusing to say whether MCAS was to blame for the disasters, Mr Muilenburg said there would be more training for pilots using the system.
Along with changes to the plane’s software, the 737 MAX will become one of the “safest planes ever to fly”, Mr Muilenburg added.
Insisting that the company is getting close to a software fix, Mr Muilenburg said 146 flights of the 737 MAX had been completed, roughly 246 hours of air time, with the updated software.
The chairman and CEO, who has been at Boeing for 34 years, said he had been on two of the flights and executives would be on some of the early commercial trips once the planes returned to service.
Earlier, a shareholder proposal to remove Mr Muilenburg from his position as chairman of the board failed, winning less than 40% of the vote.
Boeing’s profits fell 21% in first quarter of 2019.
Source: SKY NEWS