CEO will tell Congress that Boeing made mistakes on Max jet

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Joshua Lott

FILE - In this April 29, 2019, file pool photo Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg speaks at a news conference after company's annual shareholders meeting at the Field Museum in Chicago. Muilenburg says that after Boeing finishes upgrading flight-control software on the Max, it will be one of the safest planes ever. Muilenburg is scheduled to testify Tuesday, Oct. 29, before a Senate committee, then again on Wednesday before a House panel. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via AP, Pool, File)

On the anniversary of the first of two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max jets, the CEO will tell Congress that the aircraft company knows it made mistakes and is throwing everything into fixing the plane.

"We have learned and are still learning from these accidents," Dennis Muilenburg said, according to comments prepared for delivery Tuesday to a Senate committee. "We know we made mistakes and got some things wrong. We own that, and we are fixing them."

A key lawmaker said Monday that Boeing should have got things right the first time, before the Max began carrying passengers.

Muilenburg is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Committee, then again on Wednesday before the House Transportation Committee. Boeing released his prepared statement Monday.

The appearances come as Boeing faces investigations by both committees and a criminal probe by the Justice Department. It is also being sued by families of some of the 346 people who died in the crash of a Max off the coast of Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018, and another in Ethiopia on March 10.

In their final report on the first crash, Indonesia investigators said last week that Boeing's design of a key flight-control system made the plane vulnerable if a single sensor failed — disregarding the aviation industry's long reliance on redundant systems to prevent disaster. They also faulted Lion Air, which operated the plane, and U.S. regulators who approved it for flight.

Most pilots did not know about the flight-control system, called MCAS, until after the Lion Air crash. At Boeing's request, an explanation about it was excluded from pilot manuals. In his statement, Muilenburg said, "Our airline customers and their pilots have told us they don't believe we communicated enough about MCAS — and we've heard them."

Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said he will ask why Boeing didn't tell the Federal Aviation Administration about changes during development of the Max that made MCAS more powerful. He suggested that Boeing concealed the true power of MCAS to discourage regulators from examining the system more closely.