July 21, 2024

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Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun denies culture of retaliation against whistleblowers at Senate hearing

2 min read

Embattled Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun spent two hours Tuesday trying to persuade largely skeptical senators that the beleaguered aircraft maker had committed to safety since a pair of deadly crashes six years ago. 

Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike grilled Calhoun at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations over a series of in-flight mishaps that have dogged the company this year—the latest safety blunders since a pair of crashes in 2018 and 2019 killed nearly 350 people.

Calhoun, testifying for the first and possibly last time, denied widespread accusations that Boeing retaliates against employees who bring up safety concerns. 

“I often cite and reward the people who bring issues forward, even if they have huge consequences on our company and our production,” he said. “We work hard to reach out to our people.”

The genesis of the hearing was an incident that occurred on an Alaska Airlines flight in January, when a part of the fuselage from a Boeing 737 Max 9 was torn from the body of the plane mid-flight. Calhoun told lawmakers that in the immediate aftermath of the Alaska Airlines flight, Boeing conducted companywide feedback sessions with employees on ways to improve safety, and that the aircraft manufacturer had made significant changes to its incentives structure in the past year. 

“I’m trying to deal with 30,000 ideas on how we can move forward,” he said. 

That’s not what current and former employees have alleged. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, the chairman of the hearing, told Calhoun that a dozen whistleblowers had reported a host of retaliatory measures to the subcommittee, including reassignment, exclusion from key meetings, verbal assault, even physical threats.

Boeing manager and whistleblower John Barnett, who died in March of an apparent suicide, received 21 phone calls from his supervisor in a single day, and 19 on another day, after Barnett raised…

Seamus Webster

2024-06-18 18:47:55

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