Hard questions for the Boeing board


One of the things that has bothered people in Seattle is that not one of the members of the Boeing board of directors is from Seattle, another sign of how much was changed when Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Now the board is being challenged for its lack of oversight on safety issues for the 737-MAX, and the fact that CEO Dennis Muilenburg is also board chair. It used to be said that Boeing was run by engineers and lawyers, the former insisting on redundancy and safety and the latter warning (as lawyers do) about dire consequences if things went wrong with planes. This could get ugly, but likely Boeing is simply too big to fail.

Image: Wikimedia

David Brewster
David Brewster
David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and Crosscut.com. His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.
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  1. It does seem like Boeing execs in Chicago have allowed, maybe even encouraged, the company’s engineering culture to fall apart. The 787 program, with all its delays and massive problems was an early sign of that. The problems with the latest 737 undermines the brand of a workhorse product that has been one of the hardiest and safest in Boeing’s lineup. It’s hard to believe serious engineers signed off on things like software fixes to address serious hardware problems; dependence on single sensors without redundancy built in; keeping test pilots out of the loop; and not revealing critical information to pilots.
    Boeing will survive, but it’s reputation is taking a beating from which it won’t easily recover.


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