Boeing chief forgoes bonuses as more 737 MAX problems surface

Regulators reportedly found gaps in the plane's documentation, which may keep it grounded for longer than expected.

    Boeing Co Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg received $23.4m in total compensation for 2018 and has come under criticism from legislators for not immediately taking a pay cut following the Lion Air crash in October 2018 [File: Joshua Lott/Pool via Reuters]
    Boeing Co Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg received $23.4m in total compensation for 2018 and has come under criticism from legislators for not immediately taking a pay cut following the Lion Air crash in October 2018 [File: Joshua Lott/Pool via Reuters]

    Boeing Co Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said he has asked the company's board of directors to waive his bonuses, forgoing "tens of millions of dollars" as regulators unearth more damaging evidence against the company's 737 MAX planes.

    "It's not about my money," Muilenburg said at The New York Times DealBook Conference on Wednesday.

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    Muilenburg received $23.4m in total compensation for 2018 and has come under criticism from legislators for not immediately taking a cut in his compensation following the Lion Air crash in October 2018.

    Boeing Chairman Dave Calhoun said on Tuesday that Muilenburg had asked not to receive any bonuses for 2019 or equity grants and not to receive any new equity grants until the 737 MAX model had returned to full service, which might not happen until early 2021.

    Muilenburg also said he planned to make significant donations to a fund to help the families of 346 people killed in two 737 MAX crashes.

    He said he was forgoing the bonuses to "send a message of responsibility."

    A Boeing spokesman said on Wednesday Muilenburg "has committed to donating the entire value of any previous equity grants that vest in 2020."

    Calhoun gave Muilenburg a strong vote of confidence on Tuesday, saying the board believed Muilenburg "has done everything right."

    Muilenburg said he would like to still be Boeing's CEO in three years. 

    "As long the board allows me to serve in this role, I am going to serve in it," he said.

    Muilenburg also said the company would support reforms of a long-standing practice of the Federal Aviation Administration that delegated certification tasks for new aeroplanes to Boeing and other manufacturers. Several reports faulted this delegation process in the 737 MAX review. 

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    In the case of the 737 MAX, 40 percent of the certification tasks for the jet were delegated to Boeing.

    Documentations gaps

    Meanwhile, US and European regulators have asked Boeing to revise documentation on its proposed software fix, the planemaker said, further complicating its efforts to return the jet to service by year-end.

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) officials flagged up a number of issues over the weekend at a Rockwell Collins facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, during a documentation audit of how the new software was developed, sources told Reuters. 

    Boeing and regulators will return to Iowa at a yet-to-be-determined date to complete the audit, the officials said. 

     

    The world's largest planemaker submitted documentation in a key part of an approval process, already delayed by months, for a 737 MAX software upgrade in the wake of the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

    "We think there is still some work to be done," EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky told Reuters on Monday. A person with knowledge of his thinking said he was partly referring to the documentation audit.

    Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said on Wednesday the company “provided technical documentation to the regulators as part of the software validation process. The documentation was complete, and it was provided in a format consistent with past submissions. Regulators have requested that the information be conveyed in a different form, and the documentation is being revised accordingly.”

    One person briefed on the matter characterised the issue differently and said Boeing’s paperwork had gaps, was substandard and meant regulators could not complete the audit, a crucial step before the plane can be certified to return to service.

    The person said it could take “weeks” to satisfy regulators in a worst-case scenario, though Boeing believes it can address the omissions in a matter of days.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency