CHICAGO — The CEO of Boeing faced shareholders for the first time since two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max planes.
Those models remain grounded worldwide, and Boeing is scrambling to ensure they are safe.
“We feel the immense gravity of these events, and we recognize the devastation to the families and friends of the loved ones who perished,” said CEO Dennis Muilenberg. “There is nothing more important than the safety of the people who fly on our airplanes.”
Investigators say an anti-stall system on board the aircraft played a role in causing the two crashes, and the company is now waiting to get federal approval on software it says will fix the issue.
On Oct. 29, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea minutes after leaving Indonesia. All 189 people aboard were killed. Six months later, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people aboard.
Boeing’s CEO addressed stockholders about those issues at Chicago’s Field Museum Monday.
The company’s stock lost 10% of its value since the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max jets.
“We know this is a link in both accidents that we can break,” said Muilenberg. “That’s a software update that we know how to do. We own it, and we will make that update. And this will make the airplane going forward. I’m confident that with that change, it will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly.”
However, a group representing American Airlines pilots says that’s not enough, and they want better training on how to pilot the planes.
They say extra training will make pilots and passengers more comfortable, and could prevent future disasters.
Shareholders sued months ago said they were deceived. That’s on top of the more than 35 lawsuits filed on behalf of crash victims’ families. The latest filed Monday in Chicago. Manant Vaidya lost six members of his family including his mother and father.
“They wanted to spend time together as a family doing fun things,” he said. “Instead they all died together because of the insensitivity and the greed of a maker of a plane.”
Other victims’ families stood outside Monday’s shareholders meeting in the cold rain.
One of them was Tarek Milleron, an uncle to Samya Stumo, who was killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
“I want to see the truth come,” said Milleron. “I think thats all the family members want to see… the real truth come out, not the spin that Boeing has been delivering.”