BREAKING NEWS Court rules 1st federal execution in 17 years can proceed Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Mother of 737 MAX crash victim confronts Boeing CEO after hearing and tells him to quit

Rep. Steve Cohen (D- TN) grills Boeing CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, about his plans to hold himself accountable for the two Boeing plane crashes that caused 346 passenger deaths.

Posted: Oct 30, 2019 10:10 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2019 10:10 PM

After a contentious hearing where Boeing admitted mistakes and missed red flags about the safety of its 737 MAX jet, a mother whose daughter died in one of the crashes confronted CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

"Go back to Iowa. Do that," said Nadia Milleron, referring to Muilenburg's story about his upbringing that he told the House Transportation Committee several times.

"I don't feel like you understand," she continued. "It's come to the point where you're not the person anymore to solve the situation."

Milleron's 24-year-old daughter Samya Rose Stumo was killed on Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in March. That and a Lion Air crash last October together killed 346 people and led to regulators worldwide grounding the plane. Boeing continues to work on fixes for the jets, and currently says it expects the plane to be approved for commercial service later this year.

In response, Muilenburg said he respects her viewpoint.

"But I want to tell you the way I was brought up. And I'm just being honest here about it. I learned from my father in Iowa ... when things happen on your watch you have to own them and you have to take responsibility for fixing them," he said.

Muilenburg told lawmakers that in hindsight, he wished the plane had been grounded sooner.

"We've asked ourselves that question many, many times," he said. And if we knew back then what we know now, we would have grounded right after the first accident."

Lawmakers used the hearing to probe a series of mistakes and safety concerns that Boeing missed. Some said the string of decisions showed a company that prioritized profits over safety and fostered a culture of performance pressure, both charges Muilenburg disputed.

"I don't agree with that. Our business model is about safe airplanes," he said. "The reality is it's a competitive environment and the pressure to perform is there."

The flawed design of a stabilization system known as MCAS was one of several mistakes he acknowledged. Faulty input from a single sensor -- known by the acronym AOA sensor -- is believed to be an important factor in both crashes.

Concerns raised within the company

Lawmakers asked about a newly released internal email discussion between Boeing employees in 2015 -- more than a year before the plane's final approval for flight -- raising concerns about that design.

"Are we vulnerable to single AOA sensor failures with the MCAS implementation," the employee, whose name is redacted in the document, asked, raising the exact scenario blamed for the two crashes.

Muilenburg said that email showed that "our engineers do raise questions, in an open culture," but that the single-sensor design met the standards.

The CEO acknowledged that a review of Federal Aviation Administration standards and long-standing industry assumptions about how pilots react to emergencies is warranted.

But committee members raised the prospect the company should have initially made a more stringent design. They pointed to another internal document, dated prior to the crashes, noting that "a slow reaction time" to a MCAS malfunction "found the failure to be catastrophic." In this document, "slow" was defined as longer than 10 seconds.

Rep. Albio Sires, a New Jersey Democrat, asked about another Boeing employee's concerns about safety on the 737 assembly line, where production was being stepped up to fill a long list orders for the popular jet.

"My first concern is that our workforce is exhausted. Employees are fatigued from having to work at a very high pace for an extended period of time," the employee wrote, according to Sires. "Fatigued employees make mistakes."

"Frankly right now all my internal warning bells are going off," the message continued. "And for the first time in my life, I'm sorry to say that I'm hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane."

Muilenburg said he personally discussed the concerns with the employee, and that a team reviewed them. The production rate was not changed in response, he indicated.

The mistakes extended to Boeing's relationship with customers. When the company realized that a cockpit warning light connected to the MCAS system was not operable in many aircraft, it did not immediately inform customers, and continued producing the faulty aircraft, Boeing chief engineer John Hamilton acknowledged.

Muilenburg professed to not understand what the former top technical pilot wrote in internal emails about performing a "jedi mind trick" to convince customers to buy the plane and the FAA to approve pilot training that did not involve flight simulator exercises. Those messages do not represent the company's values, Muilenburg said.

When asked by Rep. Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat, if he was being deceptive to the committee, Muilenburg answered, "Congresswoman, I'm telling you the truth."

Despite the shortcomings at his company, Muilenburg said he believes the FAA's approach to certifying aircraft as safe is "a solid system that has been built up over decades."

"I think we've identified a couple of areas, we could look at refinements," he said, including "long-standing" assumptions about how pilots react to emergencies.

Fiery questions on pay cut

Muilenburg avoided discussing details of his compensation when pressed by Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee.

"Are you taking a cut in pay, are you working for free from now on, until you can cure this problem," Cohen asked.

"Congressman, it's not about the money for me," Muilenburg said. He said the company's "board will make those determinations."

Cohen fired back: "You're not accountable then."

"I am accountable, sir," Muilenburg replied.

Rep. Paul Mitchell, a Republican from Michigan, said he does not "care about bonuses," but asked if Muilenburg had offered his resignation.

Muilenburg said he has not offered to resign, but acknowledged that the crashes "happened on my watch."

Muilenburg's appearance follows a hearing with a Senate committee on Tuesday. In both, he apologized to the victims' family members, who were in the audience.

Muilenburg had his first meeting with victims' families on Tuesday, which marked the first anniversary of the Lion Air crash. He said he wished he had been personally in touch with the families sooner.

"That's something I regret and I wish I had done," he said.

Terre Haute
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 74°
Robinson
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 71°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 76°
Rockville
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 67°
Casey
Broken Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 74°
Brazil
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 74°
Marshall
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 74°
Low chance of storms tonight with clearing conditions
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Ryan Lieberman

Image

Zoe Stewart

Image

WVFCA Friday Night Lights

Image

Tim Hayes

Image

Keeping your house cooler without running the A.C. all day

Image

Several local groups partner to help you learn new job skills

Image

Duke Energy says scammers have a new tactic to steal your information, and it involves refund checks

Image

Richland County sees an increase in young people contracting COVID-19

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 154094

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook951384711
Lake10318428
DuPage9641485
Kane8078281
Will7223325
Winnebago3156105
St. Clair2265144
McHenry2248102
Kankakee141466
Unassigned1180201
Rock Island116930
Madison116770
Kendall104823
Champaign103817
Peoria64430
DeKalb63720
Boone63521
Sangamon51933
Jackson35119
McLean31515
Randolph3107
Ogle2964
Stephenson2836
LaSalle25417
Macon25022
Clinton24717
Whiteside20915
Union20519
Grundy1935
Coles19017
Iroquois1755
Tazewell1728
Knox1680
Adams1671
Monroe15513
Williamson1554
Warren1490
Cass1388
Morgan1343
Jefferson11417
Henry1111
McDonough10615
Lee1052
Vermilion892
Pulaski840
Marion770
Montgomery731
Macoupin673
Douglas610
Perry611
Jo Daviess541
Livingston542
Christian504
Jasper477
Woodford462
Franklin450
Ford421
Clark400
Jersey401
Bureau372
Menard310
Effingham301
Cumberland290
Mercer290
Johnson270
Washington250
Alexander240
Fayette243
Mason240
Moultrie240
Wabash230
Piatt210
Bond201
Carroll202
Crawford200
Hancock201
Logan200
Shelby201
Edgar190
De Witt180
Wayne181
Fulton160
Massac160
Saline160
Schuyler130
Lawrence120
Marshall120
Brown100
White100
Richland90
Greene80
Henderson80
Hamilton70
Gallatin60
Pike60
Stark60
Clay50
Edwards50
Hardin20
Calhoun10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193