‘We own it’: Boeing CEO accepts responsibility for poor quality control

The CEO of Boeing, Dave Calhoun, issued a public apology on Wednesday, taking responsibility for a manufacturing defect that caused a door plug to come loose from a Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft during an Alaska Airlines flight. Calhoun stated, “We own it,” during an appearance on CNBC, emphasizing that Boeing takes full accountability for the incident. He further acknowledged that Boeing caused the problem and expressed understanding and acceptance of the frustration felt by customers and regulators.

Calhoun’s apology came during Boeing’s first-quarter earnings call, where he admitted that such incidents should not occur on planes leaving their factories. He recognized the need to regain the confidence of customers, but emphasized that it would require more than just slogans or messages. Calhoun stressed the importance of taking real and transparent actions to address the issue.

The CEO acknowledged that Boeing was working to address its manufacturing and quality control processes both internally and with suppliers. However, he refrained from discussing the specific cause of the Alaska Airlines incident, as the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation was still ongoing.

Reports have suggested that Boeing workers removed the door plug after receiving the fuselage from Spirit AeroSystems, a separate company that was spun off from Boeing in 2005. The four bolts securing the plug were reportedly not replaced. This incident has raised concerns among customers about Boeing’s ability to meet production and delivery goals, particularly in light of the ongoing crisis surrounding the 737 MAX family.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby recently met with Airbus, expressing that the yet uncertified 737 MAX 10 would no longer be factored into the airline’s network plans. However, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary stated that his airline would take any planes United decides to turn away. Kirby referred to the MAX 9 grounding as the final straw for United, suggesting a loss of confidence in Boeing.

In response to these issues, Boeing conducted a “quality stand-down” at its Renton, Washington plant, where the 737 MAX jets are assembled. This initiative aimed to focus on quality control and implement additional inspection points at both Boeing’s own facilities and component suppliers. Additionally, the company has agreed to additional oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA has announced that it will restrict Boeing from increasing its production rate on the 737 MAX assembly line until the company demonstrates improved quality controls. Calhoun acknowledged that delivery schedule disruptions can frustrate customers and investors but emphasized that quality and safety must remain the top priority.

During the earnings call, Calhoun stated that Boeing did not issue financial guidance for the year, as the focus was on relieving pressure on workers and ensuring quality. He emphasized that meeting the standards set by regulators and demanded by customers was of utmost importance.

In a separate development, Boeing withdrew its request for an exemption from a required safety standard on the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10. Instead, the company plans to engineer a fix to address the issue. Boeing reported delivering 157 airplanes during the fourth quarter and a total of 528 throughout the year.

In conclusion, Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, publicly apologized for the manufacturing defect that caused a door plug to fly loose from a 737 MAX 9 aircraft during an Alaska Airlines flight. He accepted full responsibility, acknowledging that Boeing caused the problem and expressing the company’s commitment to addressing the issue and regaining customer confidence. Boeing has taken steps to improve its manufacturing and quality control processes, including additional inspections and oversight. The FAA has restricted Boeing’s production rate until improved quality controls are in place. Despite these challenges, Boeing remains committed to prioritizing safety and meeting the standards set by regulators and customers.

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