Dennis Muilenburg

Opening Statement to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on Boeing 737 Max Safety

delivered 29 October 2019, Washington, D.C.

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address

Written Opening Statement.pdf


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Chairman Wicker, Ranking Member Cantwell, Committee Members:

Thank you for the opportunity to join you today -- and we share your commitment to aviation safety.

Before we start today, I'd like to speak directly to the families, the victims who are here with us: On behalf of myself and the Boeing Company, we are sorry -- deeply and truly sorry. As a husband and father myself, I'm -- I'm heartbroken by your losses. I think about you and your loved ones everyday, and I know our entire Boeing team does as well.

I know that probably doesn't offer much comfort and healing at this point, but I want you to know that we carry those memories with us everyday; and everyday that drives us to improve the safety of our airplanes and our industry. And that will never stop.

I'm grateful and humbled to be here today and to be able to say these words to the families directly. And I want to convey our absolute commitment to safety, our commitment to learning, our commitment to rebuilding the public's confidence in what we do,1 and to preventing accidents from like this -- like this from ever, ever happening again.

We will never forget. And that is our commitment going forward.

Mr. Chairman, I know this committee has many questions about the [Boeing 737] MAX. We'll do our best today to answer all of those questions. While one of the accidents is still under investigation, we know both accidents involved the repeated activation of a flight control system called MCAS [Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System], which responded to erroneous signals from a sensor that measures the airplane's angle of attack.

Based on that we've enhanced MCAS in three ways:

- First, it will now compare information from both sensors,
  instead of one, before activating.

- Second, MCAS will only activate a single time.

- And third, MCAS will never provide more input than a pilot
  can counteract using the control column alone.

Pilots will also continue to have the ability to override MCAS at any time.

We've brought the best of Boeing to this effort. We've spent over 100,000 engineering and test hours. We've flown more than 800 test flights. We've conducted simulator sessions with 545 participants from 99 customers and 41 global regulators. I've flown on a couple of flights myself.

This has taken longer than expected but we're committed to getting it right. During this process we've worked closely with the FAA and other regulators. We've provided them documentation, had them fly the simulators, answered their questions. And regulators around the world should rigorously scrutinize the MAX and only approve its return to flight when they are completely satisfied with its safety. The public deserves nothing less.     

Mr. Chairman, today and every day over 5 million people will board a Boeing airplane and fly safely to their destination. Decades of cooperation and innovation by industry and regulators, and the rigorous oversight of this committee have reduced accidents by more than 95% over the last 20 years.

But no number, other than 0 accidents, is ever acceptable. We can and must do better. We've been challenged and changed by these accidents. We've made mistakes and we got some things wrong. We're improving and we're learning and we're continuing to learn. We established a permanent aerospace safety committee of our board. We've stood up a new safety organization. We strengthened our engineering organization so that all engineers now report up through Boeing's chief engineer.    

We're also helping to rebuild the communities and families impacted by these accidents. We've pledged a hundred million dollars to this effort and have hired renowned experts in this area to ensure families can access these funds as quickly as possible. No amount of money can bring back what was lost, but we can at least help the families meet their financial needs.

Mr. Chairman, I started at Boeing more than 30 years ago as a summer intern in Seattle. I was a Junior at Iowa State University studying engineering, having grown up at a family farm in Iowa. I was awestruck to work at the company that brought the jet age to the world and helped to land a person on the moon.

Today, I'm still inspired by what Boeing does and by the remarkable men and women who are committed to its outstanding legacy. But these heartbreaking accidents and the memories of the 346 lives lost are now part of that legacy. It is our solemn duty to learn from them -- and we will.

Recently, there has been much criticism of Boeing and our culture. We understand and deserve this scrutiny. But I know the people of Boeing. They are more than 150,000 of the most dedicated, honest, hardworking men and women in the world.2 And their commitment to safety, quality, and integrity is unparalleled and resolute. We will stay true to those values because we know our work demands the utmost excellence.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

1 Anaphora

2 Asyndeton

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