The CEO will be accountable for the new timeline, which he said allows for a gradual increase in production and for all airline pilots to receive simulator training.
“I’m not trying to be conservative, Calhoun said. “I’m simply trying to put a reality-based set of numbers out there. You can attach this schedule to me.”
Boeing’s decision to pause production of the 737 Max indefinitely in December sent shock waves through the network of suppliers whose operations heavily depend upon making parts for the jet. Spirit AeroSystems, one of the plane’s largest suppliers, sent layoff notices to roughly 2,800 employees at its Wichita plant this month, citing “ongoing uncertainty” involving the 737 Max.
Calhoun, a Boeing board member for the past decade, acknowledged the company must work to regain the trust it has lost since a flight-control software system was found to play a role in two crashes of the airplanes over a five-month stretch.
The CEO went further than his predecessor, Dennis Muilenburg, in saying the company and regulators made a “fatal assumption” in how pilots would respond to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) in situations when it forcefully pushed the jets’ noses downward. He described the circumstances which led to these crashes as a “boundary condition” which wasn’t considered in the design of the jets.
Those scenarios “should have had more light shined on it by us and by our regulator,” Calhoun said.
Boeing is focused on finding other unforeseen flight conditions which could pose safety risks, he said. “What other boundary conditions deserve a light shined on them?"
Another priority for Calhoun will be repairing Boeing’s corporate culture, following recent revelations that employees had mocked regulators, bragged about persuading an airline not to require training and described its airplane as “designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”
The CEO visited with workers at Boeing’s Seattle production facilities this week and held an all-hands meeting with employees on Wednesday, during which he pledged to be more transparent about management’s decisions and to work to rebuild their confidence.
“I believe this culture is a good one,” he said on the call with media. “Their confidence right now is shaken.”