Boeing‘s beleaguered CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, declined to say Tuesday whether he’ll resign following two fatal crashes of the company’s bestselling 737 Max jets that have thrown the company into crisis over the last year.
“These two accidents occurred on my watch,” he said. “I have a keen sense of responsibility to see that through.”
Muilenburg told reporters ahead of a Senate hearing Tuesday that he is focused on the safety of the company’s aircraft. He also offered condolences to the family members of 346 victims who lost their lives in the crashes.
“My focus is on the job at hand,” he said.
When asked whether there have been discussions with the board about if he should step down Muilenburg said, “Those aren’t discussions I’m involved in or is that my focus.”
Boeing’s board stripped Muilenburg of his chairman role on Oct. 11. The head of the commercial airplane unit, which makes the 737 Max, was ousted last week.
Boeing president and CEO, Dennis Muilenburg arrives for a full committee hearing on “Aviation Safety and the Future of Boeing’s 737 MAX.” on Capitol Hill October 29, 2019 in Washington,DC.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
The Senate Commerce Committee hearing, slated for 10 a.m. ET, is being held on the one-year anniversary of the first crash, Lion Air Flight 610 that went down in the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. Less than five months later, a Nairobi, Kenya-bound Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max went down in Ethiopia, taking the lives of the 157 people on the flight.
The hearing is Muilenburg’s first public testimony on Capitol Hill since the crashes.
The two disasters prompted a worldwide grounding of the jets and numerous investigations, including a criminal probe by the Justice Department. Investigators are looking into how Boeing designed the plane and whether regulators lacked sufficient oversight when they certified the jetliners as safe in 2017.
Boeing shares was up slightly in midday trading.