Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg owns the fix but not the fault after 737 MAX disasters

All of the slick production, earnest promises and on the record press conferences won’t change the brutal, tragic facts for Boeing.

In the last six months, two of their brand new 737 MAX planes crashed to the ground within minutes of take-off and 346 people were killed.

Accident investigators for both incidents say that a new anti-stall system called MCAS was involved.

They suggested MCAS was being fed faulty data about the plane’s angle of flight, leading it to automatically and repeatedly push the nose down in to an unrecoverable dive.

Before the first crash in Indonesia, Boeing had not told pilots about this new, powerful system.

In both instances, crews appeared to battle in vain to work out what was going on, and then how to override it.

And yet Boeing’s chief executive Dennis Muilenburg refuses to admit that his company made a mistake in either the design of the aircraft itself or the communication about that design to the aviation community.

Instead he speaks in broad platitudes about being committed to a rigorous process and, on safety, repeatedly saying “we own it”.

Put another way, he is taking responsibility for fixing the problem, but not for the problem itself. It is the opposite of owning it.

It is also a very, very awkward public messaging position.

Boeing is banking on sheer momentum to get the MAX through re-certification, back up to speed on the production lines, and back in the skies.

It is helped by the lack of other options for airlines – the nearest competitor from Airbus is in short supply.

But will this be enough for a full recovery for the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer?

Dennis Muilenburg told me he wasn’t going to resign.

But I predict heads will have to roll at Boeing, and maybe even the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), before investors, shareholders and the flying public put their full faith in Boeing again.

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