Boeing Board’s 3rd Response to Max 8
Not just Corporate Change
Real Aviation Safety impact
Boeing’s Board, which includes one engineer (Dennis Muilenburg) , has had a measured, but well-structured, response to the Max 8 Crisis. First in April, 2019 , it created a Special Airplane Design And Process Committee , which issued a its findings in a September Report. It decided that:
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.
the ODA, Accident Investigation Team, safety review board, QC, QA and other safety functions will report to Vice President of Product and Services Safety Beth Pasztor, who will report to the Boeing Board of Directors Aerospace Safety Committee
Ms. Pasztor will also report to Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief engineer and senior vice president of Engineering, Test & Technology.
Muilenburg Work Change
He 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.
An objective view of these actions would summarize the Board’s, especially the Special Committee’s, thrust was to increase safety and engineering within Boeing.
The Boeing press release and most of the financial media headlined the Corporate change. Muilenburg lost his Chairman title and a former GE executive, an independent director (also not an engineer), has been elected to leave the Board. While that chance has corporate significance, further into the story the news of safety significance is revealed:
The CEO is to focus more of his attention to returning the Max 8 to safe operation
A new Board Member will be selected based on his/her deep safety experience and expertise
The new Board Member will be appointed to a new Aerospace Safety Committee
Those are meaningful initiatives designed to restore the historical Boeing safety culture. Hopefully, the addition to the company’s Board will have real experience with Safety Management Systems.
Some more background for this issue:
This past weekend was busy for the commercial aerospace giant, too. Friday afternoon, Boeing (ticker: BA) said it was separating the CEO and chairman roles, stripping Muilenburg of the chairman title. David Calhoun, a former General Electric (GE) aerospace executive will take on the role.
“The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role,” Calhoun said in Boeing’s news release. “The board also plans in the near term to name a new director with deep safety experience and expertise to serve on the board and its newly established Aerospace Safety Committee.”
The back story. Muilenberg has been under intense outside pressure since the second fatal crash of its new 737 MAX jet, which led to the world-wide grounding of the single-aisle aircraft in mid-March.
Much of the scrutiny has focused on design and communication choices about flight control software implicated in both MAX crashes.
What’s new. Calhoun has a variety of aerospace and non-aerospace experience. …At GE, Calhoun served as vice chairman and CEO of GE Infrastructure. At different points in the past, he ran GE Lighting, GE Employers Reinsurance, GE Aircraft Engines, and GE Transportation.
“I am fully supportive of the board’s action.” said Muilenburg in the company’s news release. “Our entire team is laser-focused on returning the 737 MAX safely to service and delivering on the full breadth of our company’s commitments.”
Looking ahead. The move, while proactive, is unlikely to quell questions about the company’s handling of the introduction and marketing of the MAX.
Also on Friday, the Joint Authorities Technical Review, or JATR, released its report detailing work on the MAX. The JATR consists of representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, along with aviation authorities from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.
While noting the FAA has an “exemplary” safety record, the report details a number of recommendations designed to make commercial flight safer. For instance, the JATR recommend the FAA and global civil aviation authorities update standards for approving derivative aircraft to account for increasing complexity. The original 737 was certified in 1967.
Boeing believes it can return the plane to service by year-end, and investors will expect an update from management when earnings are reported.
Boeing’s responses to the two tragedies have been less than exemplary. This initiative must be effective, finds roots at every level of the company and restore Boeing’s Safety Culture.
Share this article: