Even though Boeing is having a hard time in the media, brought on by its own failings, it remains according to its CEO Dennis Muilenburg, on course to test fly the first 777-9 in the next month and deliver the first by the end of the second quarter of 2020.
In a speech filled with high quality psycho-linguistic phraseology, designed to illicit a positive response from shareholders and airlines, while sympathising with the victims of the 737Max disasters, Muilenburg managed to cover virtually every aspect of Boeing’s current predicament. He did so with wording and phraseology that left nothing uncovered but at the same time was innocuous enough to ensure no offence was caused to anyone.
However, to the more cynical of us who have written the very type of speeches CEO’s like Muilenburg are happy to read out, it was masterful in its ability to dismiss the problems of the recent past without minimising them, while laying out a positive future for Boeing.
In the same speech he went from the worst thing that he’s ever had to deal with in the deaths off the Max victims, while laying out the extreme likelihood of increasing production of the very aircraft that killed them, far above the 52 per month it will quickly rise to, post re-certification. With a need for 23,000 aircraft in the next 20 years and a backlog of 4,400 what choice do they have? All that is music to shareholders ears and Boeing Executives who’s pay is linked not to profits, but share price.
He also stated that the deep internal reviews of certification processes are unlikely to cause delays, but will change the way things have been done. Was there a choice?
The NMA – much touted outside of the company as the 797X is still progressing and on schedule if it goes ahead (as if it won’t!), and will enter service in 2025.
So while the speech yesterday was a potential minefield, whoever wrote it – and it will have been a team effort – managed to navigate all of the salient points, started to frame the 737Max crashes as past imperfect and laid the groundwork to move on, refocusing on the future rather than the awkward scene in the now, hopefully, rear-view mirror.
It’s what governments, corporates and politicians do every day, but as the language of being under siege changes to the language of opportunism, we should all be very much aware how the company is trying to navigate us out of our current unsympathetic views. This was the opening salvo of Phase One of the re-habilitation of Boeing’s corporate image.