The chairman of a U.S. House committee announced Tuesday he has invited Boeing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg to testify before the panel on Oct. 30, marking the first time that a top Boeing official has been publicly asked to appear before a congressional body since two deadly crashes of the 737 MAX.
Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, also extended an invitation to John Hamilton, chief engineer of Boeing’s commercial-airplanes division, to testify.
The hearing is scheduled for the day after the anniversary of the first crash.
Boeing has yet to comment on the announcement.
The invitations came days after DeFazio and Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, chair of the Aviation subcommittee, urged Muilenburg to make company employees available to answer questions about the development of the 737 MAX, ratcheting up congressional scrutiny into the crashes.
“The Committee believes certain employees may be able to shed light on issues central to the Committee’s investigation, including information about the design, development and certification of the 737 MAX,” they wrote in a letter to Muilenburg released last Thursday. The committee request was made as a courtesy, without using its subpoena power.
Neither Boeing nor the committee has disclosed the company’s answer.
Last week’s letter noted that while the Chicago-based company has provided a substantial number of documents to the committee in the past several months and shared “senior management’s perspective,” the committee needs to “hear from relevant Boeing employees who can provide unique insight into specific issues and decisions in a way that senior Boeing management cannot.”
In a statement responding to the letter, a Boeing spokesperson said, “We’re deeply disappointed the committee chose to release private correspondence given our extensive cooperation to date. We will continue to be transparent and responsive to the committee.”
DeFazio and Larsen, in a news release about the letter, didn’t identify whom they want to interview, nor provide any details about those employees’ roles in the development of the jetliner.
Boeing’s senior leaders have yet to testify before House and Senate committees looking into issues arising from the crashes, ranging from regulatory oversight of Boeing to the impact on relatives of the 346 people killed in the crashes off Indonesia on Oct. 29 and in Ethiopia on March 10.
DeFazio and Larsen urged Muilenburg to make the employees available as soon as possible, disclosing that the transportation committee was preparing for another hearing.
Boeing has provided 300,000 pages of documents and detailed technical information to the committee, as well as briefings from senior technical executives, according to the company.