Boeing chairman praises CEO Muilenburg, signals he will stay

Boeing chairman praises CEO Muilenburg, signals he will stay

FILE PHOTO: Dennis Muilenburg testifies before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg testifies at a hearing on the grounded 737 MAX in the wake of deadly crashes on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Oct 29, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Sarah Silbiger)

WASHINGTON: Boeing's chairman on Tuesday (Nov 5) gave a forceful vote of confidence in CEO Dennis Muilenburg amid calls in Congress for the embattled Boeing chief executive to resign after two deadly crashes.

"Dennis has done everything right," Boeing Chairman David Calhoun told CNBC, praising Muilenburg for keeping the board closely abreast of efforts to return the 737 MAX back to service.

"To date he has our confidence," Calhoun said.

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Last month, Boeing stripped Muilenburg of his title of chairman but kept him on as CEO, while naming Calhoun to replace him as chairman of the board.

Muilenburg last week endured two days of bruising criticism from lawmakers from both parties probing the two accidents that killed 346 people and led to the global grounding of Boeing's top-selling jet.

Lawmakers depicted the crashes as evidence Boeing had cut corners on safety to rush the MAX into service to compete with a plane from rival Airbus.

But Calhoun said criticism of Boeing's corporate culture missed the mark.

"I do not believe that this instance is indicative of culture," Calhoun said. "I don't believe it."

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Calhoun said the company's fundamental assumption behind a key flight handling system implicated in both crashes "was flawed." But he said the company was fixing the problem and will ensure the MAX is safe once its returned to service.

Calhoun said Muilenburg had asked not to receive a bonus for 2019 after lawmakers lambasted Muilenburg over pay at a Capitol Hill hearing last week.

In 2018, Muilenburg's total compensation package was $23.4 million, according to a securities filing.

Calhoun said the company was not considering clawing back Muilenburg's pay from earlier years because there was "no culpability."

Source: Reuters/mn