Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, will acknowledge some of the company’s failings on Tuesday when he appears before a Senate committee investigating the crashes of two 737 Max jets that killed 346 people.
“We know we made mistakes and got some things wrong,” Mr. Muilenburg plans to tell the lawmakers, according to Boeing. “We own that, and we are fixing them.”
Mr. Muilenburg has made similar comments in speeches but his appearances this week will be the first time Boeing executives have publicly addressed Congress about the crashes, which have cost the company billions of dollars and raised new questions about government oversight of the aviation industry.
Mr. Muilenburg will face the Senate on the first anniversary of the crash of Lion Air Flight 610, which was the first Max to crash. On Wednesday, he will appear in front of a House committee.
For Mr. Muilenburg and Boeing, the stakes could not be higher. The Max remains grounded seven months after the second crash, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March. The company is under scrutiny from all sides as it scrambles to contain the crisis following the crashes, and Mr. Muilenburg, who was recently stripped of his title as chairman of Boeing’s board, is facing pressure for his handling of the situation.
Both flights crashed after a new system on the Max, known as MCAS, activated based on faulty data, a fact Mr. Muilenburg plans to acknowledge in his statement.
“We know that both accidents involved the repeated activation of a flight control software function called MCAS, which responded to erroneous signals from a sensor that measures the airplane’s angle of attack,” his prepared remarks say.
Mr. Muilenburg also will address criticism that Boeing did not inform airlines about the new system before the crashes. During the development of the plane, Boeing made the system more powerful, and a Boeing pilot working on the Max, Mark Forkner, requested that the Federal Aviation Administration remove mention of the system from the plane’s training manual.
“Our airline customers and their pilots have told us they don’t believe we communicated enough about MCAS — and we’ve heard them,” Mr. Muilenburg plans to say.
Boeing this month turned over to Congress messages showing that Mr. Forkner told another pilot about problems with the new system during tests on a simulator in 2016, before the Max was certified to fly. In messages to the other pilot, Mr. Forkner said he believed he had unknowingly lied to regulators. Mr. Muilenburg does not address Mr. Forkner in his opening statement.
Boeing has developed a software update for the Max, which will be installed in all new and existing planes before they carry passengers.
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Muilenburg stressed that Boeing was cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators, and has provided them with extensive documentation and time in Max simulators.
Boeing 737 Max: What’s Happened After the 2 Deadly Crashes
Boeing remains under intense scrutiny nearly one year after the first Max jet was involved in a fatal accident.
“All of their questions are being answered,” Mr. Muilenburg plans to say. “This process has taken longer than we originally expected, but we’re committed to getting it right, and return-to-service timing is completely dependent on answering each and every question from the F.A.A.”
Boeing last week said it expected the F.A.A. to clear the Max to fly before the end of the year. But the company has pushed back its estimates on the plane’s return to service several times now. Mr. Muilenburg did not give an update to that timing in his opening statement.
“Regulators around the world should approve the return of the Max to the skies only after they have applied the most rigorous scrutiny, and are completely satisfied as to the plane’s safety,” he plans to say. “The flying public deserves nothing less.”
Nothing involving Boeing is without complications these days, and that includes the order of the hearings. The House, which is conducting an intensive investigation into Boeing, had originally asked Mr. Muilenburg to testify on Tuesday to coincide with the anniversary of the crash of the Lion Air jet in Indonesia.
But Boeing said Mr. Muilenburg was unavailable on that day, and the House agreed to hold its hearing on Wednesday. Only then did the Senate ask for Mr. Muilenburg to appear on Tuesday. This time, Boeing made Mr. Muilenburg available, according to three people with knowledge of the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
The back and forth has irked many in the House, which had wanted to have the first session with Mr. Muilenburg given its work investigating the company. Instead, it will be the Senate commerce committee that gets that opportunity.
Last week, Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House transportation committee, took a swipe at his colleagues in the Senate, accusing them of jumping in front of his hearing and “working off news reports” rather than conducting their own in-depth investigation.
On a conference call with reporters on Monday, Mr. DeFazio said he planned to press Mr. Muilenburg on Boeing’s culture.
“We see a pattern at Boeing of extraordinary production pressures,” he said, noting that the Max was hastily developed as the company sought to ward off a challenge from its European rival Airbus.
Mr. DeFazio also signaled that he and other lawmakers were looking at changing the rules concerning airplane certification.
As the 737 Max was developed, it was Boeing employees working on behalf of the F.A.A., not government inspectors, who signed off on many aspects of the plane. This system of so-called delegation, which lets manufacturers sign off on their own work, is under scrutiny after the crashes.
Investigations by The New York Times have revealed that Boeing employees sometimes felt pressure to play down safety concerns and meet deadlines, that key F.A.A. officials didn’t fully understand MCAS and that the F.A.A. office in Seattle that oversees Boeing was seen inside the regulator as excessively deferential to the company.
Boeing and its allies in industry also waged a yearslong lobbying campaign to get the F.A.A. to delegate even more to the company, an effort that paid off with the passage of last year’s F.A.A. reauthorization act. Now lawmakers are questioning whether the entire system of certifying airplanes needs an overhaul.
“It is inevitable that in the not-too-distant future we are going to be changing the way this system works,” Mr. DeFazio said.
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