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Boeing CEO faces senate scrutiny on 737 MAX safety

Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said Calhoun would testify about a series of issues.

Boeing CEO faces senate scrutiny on 737 MAX safety
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(PTI)

NEW DELHI: Outgoing Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun will testify before a U.S. Senate panel on June 18 after a series of incidents raised concerns about safety and quality, and led regulators to cap the planemaker's production of its best-selling 737 MAX. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said Calhoun would testify about a series of issues.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in February barred Boeing from boosting 737 MAX production after a door panel blew out during a Jan. 5 flight on a 737 MAX 9 operated by Alaska Airlines. Blumenthal said after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people, "Boeing made a promise to overhaul its safety practices and culture. That promise proved empty, and the American people deserve an explanation."

Calhoun has said he will leave by the end of the year as part of a broader management shakeup, as Boeing faces multiple government investigations and pressure from investors and airlines to find a new CEO. The longstanding Boeing board member and General Electric veteran took the helm of the company in 2020 after the ousting of his scandal-tinged predecessor.

Contenders for the top job at Boeing include Spirit AeroSystems CEO Pat Shanahan and Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Stephanie Pope, according to industry sources. Boeing said it welcomed the chance for Calhoun to discuss its actions to strengthen safety and quality during his Senate testimony.

During a hearing in April before Blumenthal's committee, a Boeing engineer testified the company took dangerous manufacturing shortcuts with certain planes and sidelined him when he raised safety concerns, claims the company disputes. Blumenthal said Calhoun's testimony was a necessary step to meaningfully address Boeing's failures, regain public trust and restore its central role in the American economy and national defense.

Howard McKenzie, Boeing's chief engineer, will accompany Calhoun, but not provide testimony, the committee said. Late on Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee said FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker would testify before the panel on June 13 on the agency's oversight of Boeing and other airplane manufacturers.

Whitaker in late February gave Boeing 90 days to develop a comprehensive plan to address "systemic quality-control issues." The U.S. Justice Department said last month Boeing had breached its obligations in a 2021 agreement that shielded the planemaker from criminal prosecution over the fatal 737 MAX crashes. Boeing faces a criminal probe into the Alaska Airlines incident as well.

Boeing has said it believes it has honored the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement.

Reuters
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