Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued a personal apology on Wednesday evening to the families of the 347 people killed in two fatal crashes of its 737 Max aircraft, acknowledging that while the company “fell short,” it would do “everything possible” to ensure safety going forward.
“I do personally apologize to the families. We feel terrible about these accidents. We apologize for what happened. We are sorry for the loss of lives in both accidents,” he said during an interview with CBS News. “That will never change. That will always be with us.”
Carriers across the globe grounded the 737 Max at the beginning of March, after a second crash involving one of Boeing’s new Max jets operated by Ethiopian airlines that killed all 157 people on board. Five months earlier, the aircraft was involved in a Lion Air crash that killed 189 individuals. It could take regulators several more months to clear the fleet for use again, leaving carriers scrambling as peak travel season approaches.
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Boeing previously implicated faulty sensors as the cause of the two crashes, saying that a single “angle-of-attack” sensor activated an autopilot on the plane known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System that automatically forces the plane’s nose to dive down. There is no evidence of any engine problems.
“We clearly fell short, and the implementation of this angle-of-attack disagree alert was a mistake,” Muilenburg said during his first interview since the two 737 Max aircraft crashes. “We did not implement it properly. We are confident in the fundamental safety of the airplane.”
The world’s largest aerospace company is currently facing multiple lawsuits for both crashes, including a lawsuit that alleges Boeing concealed problems and refused to ground the plane on its own.
But Muilenburg said the company is working to fix the issue now -- and that he was so confident in the future of the 737 Max, that he would put his own family on it.
“Without any hesitation, absolutely,” he said.