Boeing CEO David Calhoun has admitted to a “mistake” concerning the Boeing 737 MAX 9 after last Friday’s incident on Alaska Airlines, but has not specified what that mistake was. It makes his entire set of remarks nothing short of enigmatic.
RE: 737 MAX 9 – Boeing CEO Admits “Mistake” But Doesn’t Elaborate
Boeing executives were slated to converge at a leadership summit yesterday planned long before a door plug detached from an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 five minutes after takeoff on Friday when the aircraft was at 16,000 feet. The detachment rapidly depressurized the cabin and left a gaping hole in the fuselage of the plane. After federal regulators grounded 170 of the jets on Saturday, the retreat was called off. Instead, Calhoun appeared in an employee town hall in Renton, Washington on Tuesday.
“We are gonna approach this—No. 1—acknowledging our mistake. We’re gonna approach it with 100% and complete transparency every step of the way. We are going to work with the NTSB who is investigating the accident itself to find out what the cause is.”
What mistake is that? If the “cause” of the accident is not yet known, isn’t an apology rather premature?
In investigating it 737 MAX 9 aircraft, both Alaska and United have reported “loose parts” around the door plug area.
Perhaps Calhoun is getting at the fact that any way you slice it, Boeing comes away looking bad. Whether engineers sloppily did not drill in bolts or whether a design defect loosens such bolts over time, this latest issue further clouds the 737 MAX program.
“MAX has been on a journey—no doubt about it. We work our way through them—we do it diligently.”
But perhaps not diligently enough. He added:
“Moments like this shake them to the bone, just like it shook me. They have confidence in all of us—they do—and they will again.”
That’s likely true since Airbus and Boeing are the only big games in town…but is equally premature at this point and represents more wishful thinking at this point.
You can review his complete remarks here.
I’m wondering if Calhoun was actually talking without saying anything. It is good to rally the troops, but what exactly is Boeing apologizing for at this point? Finally, a big pet peeve of mine: apology may mean expressing regret today to most people, but its Greek root means defend (exactly the opposite of expressing remorse).
We’ll see what else comes out of Boeing this week as it continues its damage control.