In the light of the ongoing Boeing 737 Max global groundings, multiple business and aerospace industry outlets are today reporting that Boeing’s Board of Directors will establish a new Aerospace Safety Committee, to be led by a former Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The new Board level Committee will be permanent, and according to Boeing, this committee will be charged with overseeing the safe design, production and delivery of the company’s aircraft and services.
The new three-person Committee will reportedly be chaired by Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr, a Boeing board member since 2009. Other members include Lynn Good, Chairman and CEO, Duke Energy, and Lawrence Kellner, former Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines which was folded into existing United Airlines Holdings.
Additionally, Boeing indicates that it will add safety-related experience to criteria when considering future Board members.
According to a published report from Business Network CNBC, Boeing’s Board has additionally recommended significant business practice changes, including the establishment of a product and services safety organization tasked with reviewing all aspects of safety, and reporting directly to senior leaders of the company. Engineers across the company would reportedly directly report to a Chief Engineer, whom in-turn, would be a direct report to Boeing’s CEO.
Other actions outlined include the reexamination of flight deck design and operation, based on the direct input of airline customers, suppliers, pilot organizations and other groups.
According to the CNBC report, CEO Denis Muilenburg and his leadership team are to review these recommendations: “..and are expected to announce if they will incorporate all of some of them.” Supply Chain Matters found that statement somewhat perplexing in that taking issue with Board level recommendations may be at career peril.
In any case, today’s Boeing announcement is rather significant and certainly far reaching.
From our lens, it calls into question the company’s existing engineering norms and culture with actions to reign in accountability for engineering process and design decisions. Obviously, these are unprecedented actions for Boeing.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Warns Against Conflicting Messages
Also noteworthy to the above is a breaking Reuters report indicating that U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has warned global-wide air safety regulators against sending conflicting messages related to the return to service of grounded 737 MAX aircraft.
The Secretary’s remarks are in conjunction with today’s meeting in Montreal of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s assembly.
According to Chao: “International coordination is important in all aspects of this process, and the traveling public will not be well served if there are conflicting signals given by different regulatory authorities around the world.”
From our Supply Chain Matters lens, the Secretary’s remarks are not likely to aide in the overall creditability of either the U.S. FAA and of Boeing, in assuring that multiple nation air safety agencies are satisfied with ongoing software changes made with the aircraft’s flight control systems and in assuring that aircraft pilots are adequately trained in operation and safety procedures that are now being proposed.
As indicated in our last Boeing 737 MAX update, Boeing anticipates that U.S. carriers will receive a go ahead sometime in October, while other global airlines will likely defer to timelines that extend into 2020.
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