Emirates president Sir Tim Clark has publicly criticised senior management at Boeing after last week’s US$2.5 billion 737 MAX fine.
Sir Tim told Reuters Boeing needs to “take a good hard look at themselves” and that the business still has “work to do”. “There is a top-down culpability and accountability and they need to recognise that,” he said.
Last week, the US Department of Justice ruled Boeing had deceived FAA safety officials who initially cleared the 737 MAX to fly and senior figures said it had concealed “material information” and engaged “in an effort to cover up their deception”.
The decision came weeks after the MAX was once again cleared to fly after being grounded due to two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people.
Sir Tim is recognised as one of the most influential figures in aviation, while Emirates itself is one of Boeing’s most important customers.
“Boeing needs to take a good hard look at themselves; I’m sure they have,” Sir Tim said. “But they have to [show] evidence to people like the airline community, the travelling public, that they have made the changes that are required of them in a transparent manner
“That [can] only be done at board level and executed … at senior level. I believe they still have work to do in Boeing to get themselves sorted out …
“Clearly there were process and practices, attitudes – DNA if you like – that needed to be resolved from the top down. It is pointless shuffling the deck.”
Boeing chief executive David Calhoun said after the decision that the huge penalty “appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations”.
Boeing has entered into a “deferred prosecution agreement” with the US Department of Justice related to a conspiracy to defraud the FAA’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with its initial evaluation of 737 MAX.
Under the terms of the deal, Boeing will now pay US$2.5 billion, composed of a penalty of US$243.6 million, compensation payments to MAX airline customers of US$1.77 billion, and the establishment of a US$500 million crash-victim beneficiaries.
The Department of Justice said Boeing admitted to deceiving FAA safety officials about the crucial Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software system that is better known as the stall-prevention system at the heart of the two crashes.
In more positive news, Sir Tim used the same interview to voice his support for the new 777X, of which it now has 126 on order.
“This is essentially a modern 777, which of course is a workhorse for international travel and it has been a thoroughly reliable, excellent bit of Boeing design so I don’t see why the 777X should be any different,” he said.