Addressing criticism of the design of the Boeing 737 MAX’s flight-control systems, the company’s board of directors has created a committee to review how the jet maker designs and develops its new airplanes.
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said Friday he asked for the review to “confirm the effectiveness of our policies and processes for assuring the highest level of safety on the 737 MAX program, as well as our other airplane programs,” and to “recommend improvements.”
“Safety is our responsibility, and we own it,” Muilenburg said. “When the MAX returns to the skies, we’ve promised our airline customers and their passengers and crews that it will be as safe as any airplane ever to fly.”
The review follows the launching of several external probes looking closely at the certification and safety of the MAX.
A Seattle Times story last month described flaws in the safety analysis of the MAX’s new automatic flight-control system — known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS — that was conducted by Boeing as part of the certification of the airplane.
The MCAS is now known to have played the major role in both recent fatal MAX crashes, of a Lion Air jet in October and an Ethiopian Airlines last month.
The Fraud Section of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division has convened a grand jury in a sweeping and aggressive criminal investigation into the jet’s certification that is being carried out by the Transportation Department’s Inspector General. The FBI has also joined that investigation and subpoenas have been issued.
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has requested records from Boeing and the FAA as part of its investigation into the 737 MAX certification process.
And the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has set up a review chaired by former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Chris Hart and including experts from the FAA, NASA, and international aviation regulatory authorities to evaluate all aspects of MCAS, including its design and how pilots interact with the system.
The committee of Boeing board members will be chaired by Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr., former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its other members are Robert Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen; Lynn Good, chairman and CEO of Duke Energy; and Edward Liddy, former chairman and CEO of Allstate.