Airlines

Boeing adds safety committee, considers changes to airplane development

Key Points
  • Boeing is establishing an aerospace safety committee on its board following two fatal crashes of the 737 Max.
  • The committee will be permanent and led by retired Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr., former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Boeing's board says it will add safety-related experience to the list of criteria it will consider when choosing future directors.
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Boeing adds permanent safety committee on board of directors

Boeing, still stinging from harsh criticism that it failed to focus on safety while developing and building the 737 Max, is establishing an aerospace safety committee on its board following two fatal crashes that killed 346 passengers.

The new committee will be permanent and led by retired Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr., former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A Boeing director since 2009, Giambatiani will oversee a three-person committee whose other members will be Boeing directors Lynn Good, chairman and CEO, Duke Energy, and Lawrence Kellner, president of Emerald Creek Group and former chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines.

In addition, Boeing's board says it will add safety-related experience to the list of criteria it will consider when choosing directors. Following two 737 Max crashes within the last year, Boeing has been criticized for not having more board members with extensive backgrounds in safety-related matters.

After a five-month review of its policies and practices Boeing's board is recommending the following changes for the company:

  • Create a product and services safety organization. This group would review all aspects of safety and report directly to senior leaders at Boeing.
  • Realign and streamline engineering oversight: Engineers throughout the company would report directly to the chief engineer, who in turn would directly to CEO Dennis Muilenburg.
  • Establish a design requirements program: This would include data, lessons learned and detailed reports to improve development of planes and processes.
  • Enhance the continued operation safety program: This would mean all safety and potential safety reports be provided to the chief engineer for their review.
  • Reexamine flight deck design and operation: This would include Boeing working with airlines, suppliers, pilot organizations to review how flight decks are designed and operated. After the 737 MAX crashes, investigators criticized Boeing for building cockpits that did not immediately alert pilots of certain situations.
  • Expand the role and reach of the safety promotion center: The center would be used to promote safety awareness and practices throughout the company.

Muilenburg and his leadership team will review the recommendations and are expected to announce if they will incorporate all or some of them.

The board's safety recommendations come as Boeing moves toward a critical period in getting the 737 Max recertified and back in service. Muilenburg has repeatedly said he expects airlines will be able to resume flying the Max by the end of the year.