Transportation

Boeing has more problems than the 737 Max, Rep. John Garamendi warns

Key Points
  • Boeing's problems are not restricted to just the 737 Max jet, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi says.
  • "We have a serious problem with Boeing in the military side of it," the California Democrat tells CNBC.
  • Garamendi specifically references ongoing troubles with Boeing's aerial refueling tanker, the KC-46.
VIDEO1:0801:08
Boeing has many more problems than the 737 Max, Rep. John Garamendi warns

Boeing's problems do not end with its grounded 737 Max jet, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi told CNBC on Tuesday.

"Going forward, this is not the only issue," the California Democrat said on "The Exchange." "We have a serious problem with Boeing in the military side of it."

Specifically, Garamendi pointed to the KC-46, aerial refueling tankers made by Boeing. The KC-46 experienced two years of delays and ran overbudget by $3 billion before the first one was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in January, but problems persist.

In September, the Air Force determined KC-46s could no longer carry passengers or cargo until issues with floor cargo restraints are resolved.

The KC-46 "doesn't yet work. There are ongoing problems," Garamendi said, before incorrectly saying the plane has been delayed four years. "So we've got a lot of problems with Boeing."

Garamendi, who is member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, made his remarks as Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testified on Capitol Hill before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Muilenburg will appear before Garamendi's committee Wednesday as the airplane manufacturer continues to address the fallout from two fatal crashes involving its 737 Max jet.

Dennis Muilenburg, chief executive officer of Boeing Co., speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The jets have been grounded worldwide since March after two of the planes crashed — one in October 2018 and the other in March — killing 346 people in total. The Max's malfunctioning flight-control system has been implicated in the disasters.

Air Force officials have filed at least four reports of Category 1 deficiencies — problems that could cause serious injury, major damage to weapons systems or be deadly — about the KC-46, according to military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

Deliveries of the KC-46 were also started and stopped — twice — this spring after the discovery of foreign debris paused production, Defense News reported.

The planes likely won't be used in combat operations for another three to four years as issues with their vision system still need to be resolved.

Garamendi said the 737 Max crashes, plus the litany of KC-46 troubles, cast serious doubt over Boeing's fitness for future government contracts — unless there are leadership changes.

"And now they want to bid on other major contracts to the U.S. military, and I'm going, 'you guys have to prove yourself and if that means a bunch of the executives take the big dive and leave without a fat going-away present, that seems be the right thing to do.'"

Boeing did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

VIDEO4:4704:47
California Rep. Garamendi on Boeing CEO and state's wildfires