In Opening Statement, Cantwell Calls on Boeing CEO to Provide Answers, Commit to Safety as “Job One”

October 29, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In her opening statement at today’s Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on the future of aviation safety and the Boeing 737 MAX, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the committee, called on Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to prioritize safety and commit to providing answers on accountability and transparency at the company. 

“These families, millions of airline passengers, and over 150,000 aerospace workers want to know what we are doing to fix what went wrong, and what did go wrong. To date, we haven’t gotten all those answers,” Cantwell said. “But one thing is crystal clear: if you want to be the leader in aviation manufacturing, you have to be the leader in aviation safety.” 

“We cannot have a race for commercial airplanes become a race to the bottom when it comes to safety,” Cantwell continued. “The company, the board, cannot prioritize profits over safety.” 

Cantwell closed her remarks by calling on Boeing’s corporate leadership to live up to the values of excellence and safety displayed by line workers and engineers throughout the Pacific Northwest and around the country. 

“Our sorrows are nothing like the families who are with us today, but I do want to note that the 737 MAX accidents have struck at the heart of everyone in the Northwest. Soon after the Ethiopian crash, a Seattle firefighter approached me and asked if I thought he could get a job at Boeing,” Cantwell said. “He said, ‘I just want to go there and make sure we get the safety right.’ Everyone feels that way.” 

“Generations of workers in the Pacific Northwest have dedicated their lives to aviation excellence and safety, and that spirit lives on in Everett and Renton,” Cantwell continued. “This isn’t a question about line workers – this is a question about the corporate view from Chicago, and whether there is enough attention to manufacturing and certification. You should take offense to the fact that people say, ‘It’s a great company that’s not being run correctly.’” 

Last week, Senator Cantwell introduced new legislation to implement aviation safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (DOT IG), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to address challenges related to increased automation in commercial aircraft cockpits, as well as how pilots respond to flight deck alerts and uncommanded flight control inputs. It is the first in a series of bills Cantwell plans to introduce to implement recommendations from federal safety agencies reviewing the crashes and plane certification process. 

Video from Senator Cantwell’s opening statement is available HERE, and audio is HERE.