Boeing CEO Faces Tough Questions at Shareholder Meeting

At a shareholder meeting on Monday, Boeing chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenberg faced tough questions from reporters and shareholders regarding the company’s 737 Max aircraft.

It’s been more than a month since the FAA grounded the 737 Max following the fatal crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019 and Lion Air Flight 610 on Oct. 29, 2018.

At the heart of public scrutiny is the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS software, which is designed to prevent the plane from stalling. Following the fatal crash in October, several pilots said they were not notified about the software.

In answering a question regarding this issue, Muilenberg brought up the possibility of human error.

“We’ve confirmed that the MCAS System as originally designed did meet our design and safety criteria and our certification criteria – those are standard processes that have worked for decades and will continue to work,” Muilenberg said. “That said, when we design a system, understand that these airplanes are flown in the hands of pilots and in some cases, our system safety analysis includes not only the engineering design, but also the actions that pilots would take as part of a failure scenario.”

Muilenberg, who started the meeting with a moment of silence for the nearly 350 victims of both fatal crashes, said the 737 Max “will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly” after the company finishes software updates and certification processes for the aircraft.

Crain’s Chicago Business reporter Claire Bushey, who covered the meeting, joins us in conversation.

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