Senate grills CEO in hearing, testimony on crashes

Boeing’s CEO defended the aerospace company’s safety inspection system in Senate testimony Wednesday, despite two crashes that have grounded its 737 Max jetliner.

He also disclosed he was notified before the second crash of a test pilot’s signal of “egregious” problems with the Max’s flight control system, now believed to be at fault in the plane’s two crashes.

Overall, however, CEO Dennis Muilenburg took an apologetic stance before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The hearing was attended by family members of the 346 people who lost their lives in the crashes. They stood at one point to show large photos of their deceased relatives. 

Not only will the 737 Max not fly again until all agree it is safe, Muilenburg said, but Boeing also is reviewing all its safety policies.

“On behalf of myself and the Boeing Company, we are deeply and truly sorry. As a husband and father myself, I am heartbroken by your losses. I think about you and your loved ones every day, and the entire Boeing team does as well,” he said.

But when pressed on specifics by senators, Muilenburg took a harder line.

Even though he knew about the 2016 electronic messages from the test pilot, he denied knowing until recently the specifics they contained. The pilot talked about unknowingly lying to regulators. The company turned the messages over to the Justice Department in February, but didn’t share it with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Senate committee until recently.

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