Boeing executives faced shareholders in public on Monday for the first time since two fatal crashes led to the grounding of the latest version of its most popular aircraft, the 737 Max.
CEO Dennis Muilenburg, speaking at Boeing's annual shareholder meeting in Chicago, said that the aerospace giant is making "steady progress" in implementing a software update that will enable the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the aircraft as safe.
Almost 90 percent of the more than 50 airline and other operators have "experienced the software update themselves" during a simulator session, Muilenburg said. Test pilots have taken 146 flights in 737 Max aircraft totaling 246 hours of airtime with the new software, he noted.
According to CNN, Muilenburg said the pilots did not "completely" follow the procedures that Boeing had outlined to prevent the kind of malfunction that probably caused a March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet. A Lion Air 737 Max crashed under similar circumstances in October.
Muilenburg held on to his dual CEO-chairman role despite a shareholder attempt to remove him from chairmanship.
Muilenburg said the initial certification process for the 737 Max was followed properly and was consistent with Boeing procedure. The two crashes, and the software issue, were part of a "chain of events" now under investigation in both crashes, he said.
Boeing, and the media, should wait for the outcome of the investigation, he told reporters.
When asked if Boeing would admit if the design of the software in question was flawed, Muilenburg stuck to his previous answers.
"It's not correct to attribute that to any single item," he said. "We know there are some improvements we can make to the MCAS and we will make those improvements."
One shareholder asked what Boeing was doing to make safety processes more robust. "You don't have to have 300-plus people die every time to find out something is unreliable," the shareholder said.
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