Boeing chief faces questions about accountability

Washington (AFP) –


Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg faced another round of tough questions on Wednesday, with lawmakers calling out the aerospace giant for not holding top leaders accountable after two deadly crashes.

The second round of congressional hearings into the Boeing 737 MAX again probed details of the accidents, but featured a more pointed focus on Muilenburg's responsibility for the tragedies.

Lawmakers asked Muilenburg why he had not resigned or taken a pay cut. In 2018, Muilenburg's total compensation package was $23.4 million, according to a securities filing.

"Why are you not giving up any money?" demanded Representative Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat.

Muilenburg said that his pay was set by the board of directors.

"You're saying you're not giving up any compensation?" Cohen said. "After these two horrific accidents that caused all these people to disappear, to die, you are not taking a pay cut. You are not accountable."

The exchange was among the most tense during a House hearing on the MAX, the aircraft involved in Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes that claimed 346 lives. It has been grounded globally since March.

Earlier this month, Boeing ousted commercial plane chief Kevin McAllister, the first major departure following the accidents.

The company also stripped Muilenburg of his title as chairman.

Muilenburg said he had not offered his resignation after the tragedies.

"These two accidents happened on my watch. I feel responsible to see this through," he said.

"I grew up in a farm on Iowa and my Dad taught me that you don't run away from challenges and this is a challenging situation," he said. "My responsibility is to stick to it and to help our team work through it and to get Boeing ready for the future."

Muilenburg pointed to the loss of the chairman title as an example of accountability and said he agreed because it gave him more time to focus on returning the MAX to service.

"I am responsible. I am also accountable," Muilenburg said during an exchange with Democratic Representative Rick Larsen of Washington,

"As additional reviews are complete, we'll take additional actions," Muilenburg said. "The flying public deserves safe planes."