Boeing went into PR overdrive yesterday as the scale of its public relations disaster over the 737 MAX has finally dawned on it. CEO Dennis Muillenberg, in a tieless collar and jacket, carefully placed to one side of the frame and filmed from a distance so as to not look overly official or intimidating, spoke from a prepared statement filled with reassuring power phrases and carefully crafted psycho-linguistic catch-alls.
You can hardly blame him, the stock price has plunged and his earnings are tied directly to its value – not their sales or income, their stock price.
Call me cynical, but this should have happened days ago, not a week after the event. Just one more piece of evidence that Boeing utterly mismanaged, underestimated and failed to even guess at the level of public, international government and political outrage coming their way.
On the day when Trump appointed the new head of the FAA – another former airline executive, this time ex-Delta, in a seemingly flagrant lack of sensitivity to one of the big concerns those outside the FAA have, about airlines and manufacturers running the regulator, Congress announced an investigation into how the FAA is managed and how was it that Boeing got the 737-MAX certified with such a flawed system?
The process where the FAA basically issues standards and the manufacturer simply says they’ve met them – known as self-certification, is likely to come under the microscope, and not before time. If you want safe aviation then the tax payer is going to have to cough up the money to pay for the engineers, experts and facilities to ensure that’s what they get, not cut costs over years, so far, that the manufacturer is the only one with the knowledge and resources to prove to itself what it’s doing is safe.
The FAA is full of good people, but they have too much on their plates and the higher level managers are too often from the very people they regulate. That just isn’t viable in the long-term.