What the Boeing Special Airplane Design and Process Committee Review Said

Share this article: FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

And didn’t say publicly

Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg relates Board Committee Report

Other than Muilenburg Board has no engineers neither does Committee

Boeing aims to strengthen engineering oversight after panel review

“By Eric M. Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

EVERETT, Wash. (Reuters) – Boeing Co needs to reorganize its engineering reporting lines company-wide and ensure higher ranking officials, including its CEO, get faster feedback about potential safety concerns from lower levels of the company, according to an internal review at the U.S. planemaker following two recent fatal crashes.

The initial recommendations, presented to Boeing’s board of directors over the weekend, also include potentially creating a new permanent committee to review Boeing’s aircraft design and development, company officials told Reuters.

The new initiatives come from a special board panel set up to review how Boeing develops and builds aircraft after the two crashes. They are intended to boost the transparency of engineering decisions and accelerate efforts to share safety information as widely and swiftly as possible across Boeing’s global businesses and factories.

Speaking to Reuters at an internal Safety Promotion Center at its manufacturing hub north of Seattle, Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg vowed to learn from the crashes as part of what he described as Boeing’s role “to preserve and improve” the safety of global aviation over time.

“Our job is to make sure accidents don’t happen,” Muilenburg said. “Whatever the cause is, we are going to learn, we are going to understand and we are going to make improvements.”

“Ultimately, what we learn from the crashes will be reflected here as well,” Muilenburg added, referring to the hall of exhibits that highlight how some accidents have had an impact on the ways planes are designed and operated. Safety experts say this is part of a wider organized learning process credited with a sharp improvement in safety over the decades.

A new addition to the center is a roughly six-foot wall of glass with water running over its face that bears the words, “remembering those whose lives were lost in flight,” along with the exact times of the crashes of Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, and a tally of the dead.

The committee’s recommendations are the first structural shifts as part of the company’s response to the ongoing crisis over the grounding of its 737 MAX after deadly accidents killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia. The changes will be rolled out over the next couple of months, pending further review and modifications, he said.

Changes within the company could also be informed by the outcome of crash investigations into both accidents, according to a Boeing spokesman.

Muilenburg now receives granular weekly reports of potential safety issues discussed at meetings of rank-and-file engineers – something that did not happen in the past. Those engineers, numbering in the thousands, will report to chief engineers as opposed to being allocated to separate programs – a change designed to help them reach senior Boeing officials more effectively, though their specific jobs will not change.

GLOBAL SCRUTINY

The proposed changes are designed to give greater line-of-sight from the company’s top management into the heart of its industrial programs.

Engineers currently meet to flag and debate potential safety issues on a weekly basis, known internally as safety review boards. The committee recommended “elevating” the meetings to higher raking officials including Muilenburg to add more “transparency and visibility,” he said. “I’m now getting weekly reports that are very valuable.”

The board’s review is just one of numerous probes into the development of the 737 MAX by global regulators and U.S. lawmakers and the Department of Justice. Boeing also faces more than 100 lawsuits by victims’ families alleging it designed a flawed airplane and other issues.

Boeing has apologized for the lives lost and is upgrading critical flight control software at the center of both crashes. But it has stopped short of admitting any faults in how it developed the 737 MAX, or the software, which repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down while the pilots struggled to intervene.

“We have been very thorough in looking at every step of the design process, certification process, going all the way back to the original requirements,” Muilenburg said. “We feel very confident in how that was done. But that doesn’t mean we stop learning.”

No employee has been fired over the development of the 737 MAX, he said.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Engineer John Hamilton told Reuters that Boeing and European rival Airbus SE meet several times a year to share data on safety.

“The next time we get together, I am sure we will be sharing learnings from the MAX accidents,” Hamilton said.


Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg has both undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering plus much of his career up the org chart was devoted to engineering. The Board does not appear to include any other engineers.

The Board committee (see below resumes in order of the above pictures), established in April 2019 to review company-wide policies and processes for the design and development of our airplane programs, does not appear to have any engineers, but was chaired by Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr. Perhaps the Special Board Committee had the assistance of consultants, but one wonders how “granular” their review was and what led them to a conclusion that the engineering needs to be enhanced.

One would suspect that there might have been recommendations about:

  • Internal review processes as to software design
  • Greater analysis of the need for cockpit training for new systems
  • Reexamination of the level of Boeing Engineering-independent Organization Delegation team-FAA discussions
  • Greater preparedness for accident response communications

A tenet of aviation safety professionals has been that, while the FAA regulations are very useful, it is incumbent on every certificate holder (TC, PC, STC, P121, P145, etc.) to exceed those requirements. Perhaps, the opening line of the Board Committee’s report reinforced that the long term value to Boeing is its reputation and not any certificates…that by taking extra steps– beyond what the FAA may or may not have required– Boeing’s ultimate customers, the passengers on the planes bearing its name, would be better served.

Robert A. Bradway

Director Since 2016

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Amgen. Mr. Bradway has served as Chairman of Amgen Inc. (biotechnology) since January 2013 and as Chief Executive Officer since May 2012. His prior experience at Amgen includes service as President and Chief Operating Officer from May 2010 to May 2012 and as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from 2007 to 2010.

Mr. Bradway is a member of the Audit Committee and the Finance Committee. He also serves on a Board committee established in April 2019 to review our company-wide policies and processes for the design and development of our airplane programs.

 

Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr.

Director Since 2009

Seventh Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation; Former Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command. Admiral Giambastiani has served as President of the Giambastiani Group (consulting) since 2009. Admiral Giambastiani served as Seventh Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2005 to 2007, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation from 2003 to 2005, and Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command from 2002 to 2005. Admiral Giambastiani is a career U.S. Navy nuclear submarine officer with extensive operational experience, including command at the submarine, squadron and fleet level. His staff experience includes service as Co-Chairman of the Defense Acquisition Board and Chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. Admiral Giambastiani also serves as a member of the board of trustees/advisory board of the Oppenheimer Funds and on the board of THL Credit, Inc.

Admiral Giambastiani is Chair of the Special Programs Committee and a member of the Audit Committee and the Finance Committee. He also chairs a Board committee established in April 2019 to review our company-wide policies and processes for the design and development of our airplane programs.

Lynn J. Good

Director Since 2015

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Duke Energy Corporation. Ms. Good has served as Chairman since January 2016 and as President and Chief Executive Officer of Duke Energy Corporation (electrical utility) since July 2013. Her prior experience at Duke Energy includes service as Vice Chairman from July 2013 to January 2016 and as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from July 2009 to June 2013.

Ms. Good is a member of the Compensation Committee and the Governance, Organization and Nominating Committee. She also serves on a Board committee established in April 2019 to review our company-wide policies and processes for the design and development of our airplane programs

 

Edward M. Liddy

Director Since 2010

Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Allstate. Mr. Liddy served as a partner at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, LLC (private equity) from April to September 2008 and from January 2010 to December 2015. At the request of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Mr. Liddy served as Interim Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American International Group, Inc. (insurance and financial services holding company) from September 2008 to August 2009. He served as Chairman of the Board of The Allstate Corporation (insurance) from January 1999 to April 2008. At Allstate, he also served as Chief Executive Officer from January 1999 to December 2006 and as President and Chief Operating Officer from August 1994 to December 1998. Before joining Allstate, Mr. Liddy held a number of financial and operating positions at Sears, Roebuck and Co. before being named Chief Financial Officer in 1992. Mr. Liddy also serves on the boards of 3M Company, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie Inc.

Mr. Liddy is a member of the Compensation Committee and the Governance, Organization and Nominating Committee. He also serves on a Board committee established in April 2019 to review our company-wide policies and processes for the design and development of our airplane programs.



 

 

Share this article: FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

1 Comment on "What the Boeing Special Airplane Design and Process Committee Review Said"

  1. The NYT gets better access, but the article does not note the absence of any engineers!!! https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/15/business/boeing-safety-737-max.html

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.