Boeing's executives under fire as 737 MAX crash victims' families push for change

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·3 min read
Capt. Brian Eyre, who was serving as first officer, goes through pre-flight preparations in the flight deck before the first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane, Monday, March 1, 2021, prior to a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. The 737 Max, a mid-size plane used mostly on short and medium-range flights, recently returned to flying after being grounded worldwide for 20 months following two fatal crashes. Alaska plans to have four 737 Max airplanes in service by April. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Boeing's board will be watched carefully at its annual meeting next week. Photo: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Two top Boeing (BA) executives are feeling the heat as families of the victims of the 737 MAX crashes have joined with shareholders to call for high-level reform in the planemaker. 

Boeing's annual meeting is set to take place on Tuesday this week, a summit that should give some indication on how it intends to regain its standing in the aerospace sector following repeated safety warnings about one of its key jets as well as the thorny issue of COVID-19-related travel groundings fostering a dip in demand. 

Michael Stumo, whose 24-year-old daughter Samya Rose died in the Ethiopian airlines 302 crash, told The Guardian that the board is comprised of "private equity, celebrity politicians and failed GE cost-cutting people" that are "draining its legacy assets." 

He also said Boeing had fired hundreds of engineers, cut corners on quality, and used profits to buy back stock options for executives.

The company has already made top-level changes to its board since a second crash shook the company. Seven directors have already left or are due to step down next week. 

Board members Larry Kellner and Edmund Giambastiani will be in the crosshairs next week, however, as families and shareholders call for change. 

READ MORE: Boeing suffers more electrical issues with 737 MAX

The beleaguered manufacturer has had ongoing issues with the safety of its 737 MAX jets. 

On Saturday it was reported that an electrical fault that grounded dozens of Boeing 737 MAX jets last week has caused fresh concern after engineers found similar issues elsewhere in the cockpit.

Just days ago the aviation company told 16 of its operators that its most-sold model should not be flown until the “production issue” is addressed.

It said at the time that it was working alongside the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the issue, which does not affect its entire fleet.

Boeing said it was not related to the flight-control system that suspended its planes previously.

However, suspected grounding problems have since been found in two other places on the flight deck, Reuters reported citing sources close to the matter.

A Boeing spokeswoman said at the time that it was unclear how long it would take to solve the problem.

The new issues are not related to the design problems that contributed to a 20-month worldwide suspension following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.

Lion Air flight JT610 crashed off Indonesia in October 2018. Five months later, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.

Investigators believe the accidents were triggered by the failure of a single sensor, specifically the MCAS software, as well as the regulatory oversight failures of the FAA, and the lack of training provided to pilots.

Watch: Two passengers sue United Airlines after Boeing 777 engine catches fire in mid-air