WASHINGTON, June 10, 2024 – Outgoing Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is scheduled to testify before the U.S. Senate panel on June 18, following a series of safety and quality incidents that have raised significant concerns. The testimony comes as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has imposed restrictions on Boeing’s production of its popular 737 MAX aircraft.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, steering the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, announced that Calhoun will tackle several burning issues. This comes on the heels of the FAA’s February decision to halt Boeing from ramping up 737 MAX production after a door panel snafu during a January 5 flight on a 737 MAX 9 flown by Alaska Airlines.

Blumenthal underscored the severity of the situation, recalling the two devastating crashes in 2018 and 2019 that claimed 346 lives. “Boeing vowed to revamp its safety practices and culture. That promise fell flat, and the American people deserve answers,” he stated.

Calhoun, who took the CEO reins in 2020 amid a management shakeup, has announced he’ll be stepping down by year’s end. The company is under a magnifying glass from various government probes and faces mounting pressure from investors and airlines to name a new CEO. Top contenders include Pat Shanahan, CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, and Stephanie Pope, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

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Dave Calhoun

Boeing has expressed its eagerness to have Calhoun discuss the steps taken to boost safety and quality during his Senate testimony. This chance, Boeing believes, will shed light on the company’s ongoing efforts to fix past blunders and regain trust in its operations.

In April, a Boeing engineer testified before Blumenthal’s committee, alleging that the company had compromised safety by taking dangerous manufacturing shortcuts and sidelining him when he raised concerns. Boeing has disputed these claims but acknowledges the necessity of addressing these issues to regain public trust.

Howard McKenzie, Boeing’s chief engineer, will accompany Calhoun to the hearing but will not testify. The testimony is viewed as a key move towards tackling Boeing’s missteps and reasserting its crucial role in the American economy and national defense.

On June 13, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker will also take the hot seat before the Senate Commerce Committee to discuss the FAA’s watch over Boeing and other aircraft makers. This hearing is anticipated to illuminate the regulatory tangles and quality-control hiccups that have bedeviled Boeing in recent times. Whitaker had previously given Boeing a 90-day deadline in February to develop a comprehensive plan to tackle these systemic problems.

Alongside these testimonies, the U.S. Justice Department announced last month that Boeing had flubbed its obligations under a 2021 deal that kept the company safe from criminal charges related to the deadly 737 MAX crashes. The Alaska Airlines mishap has sparked a fresh criminal probe into Boeing’s compliance with the deferred prosecution agreement.

Boeing insists it’s been playing by the rules of the agreement and is still working to iron out the quality-control wrinkles that have plagued its operations. The forthcoming testimonies by Calhoun and Whitaker are expected to be crucial in shaping the future regulatory scene for Boeing and the wider aviation world.

As Boeing steers through these stormy waters, the company’s leadership shift will be under the microscope, watched by industry insiders and the public alike. The results of the Senate hearings will likely steer Boeing’s strategy and efforts to rebuild its reputation and operational integrity.