Boeing’s CEO Dave Calhoun fought back tears while “acknowledging our mistake” that caused the terrifying mid-air door plug blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight.
“We’re going to approach this. … We’re going to approach it with 100% and complete transparency every step of the way,” Calhoun said to employees during a meeting at Boeing’s 737 aircraft factory near Seattle on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.
An emotional Calhoun made the remarks during an all-hands meeting he called to reinforce safety following an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 fuselage panel blowout, which forced the airline’s Flight 1282 to make an emergency landing at Portland International Airport on Friday evening.
However, the 66-year-old, who worked at General Electric for nearly three decades before becoming Boeing’s chief executive in 2020, did not specify what “mistake” led to the nearly-disastrous misstep.
The National Transportation Safety Board has since said it could have been caused by hardware intended to keep the fuselage panel secure that was never actually installed.
The NTSB’s revelation came just hours after United Airlines reported finding loose bolts and “installation issues” on some Boeing 737 MAX 9 jetliners.
“We are going to work with the [NTSB] who is investigating the accident itself to find out what the cause is,” Calhoun said in Tuesday.
“I’ve got kids, I’ve got grandkids and so do you,” he added during the meeting — which was webcast to workers based around the country — as he recalled seeing photographs of the plane’s damaged fuselage.
“This stuff matters. Every detail matters,” Calhoun said in thee wake of harrowing first-hand accounts of the flight, during which a passenger sent what she thought could be her final text message to her parents.
Emma Vu recalled being one of 171 passengers when the plane suddenly dropping mid-flight after a chunk of fuselage blew off at about 16,000 feet, leaving a gaping hole in the plane.
“The masks r down. I am so scared right now,” Vu wrote to her parents in texts she posted in a TikTok video, where she is seen wearing an oxygen mask during the ordeal on the plane, which was traveling from Portland, Ore., to Ontario, Calif.
“Please pray for me. Please i dont want to die,” she wrote.
At Boeing’s meeting, the company’s chief safety officer Mike Delaney also addressed workers.
“Mike and his team are the only people in our company that can give the go ahead to move airplanes back into the air,” Calhoun said, per Bloomberg. “Make sure everybody’s clear about that. That is the way we’re organized.”
Delaney’s senior executive role was created in 2021 following two 737 Max 9 crashes — in Indonesia in 2018 and March in 2019 — that killed a combined 346 people, resulted in a temporary global grounding of the jets and sparked a firestorm of questions about Boeing’s safety procedures.
Also in his address, Calhoun told his workforce to communicate with customers, adding that “moments like this shake them to the bone,” in reference to the Alaska Air incident, according to Bloomberg.
Boeing shares fell 1.4% on Tuesday as United canceled 225 daily flights, or 8% of its total, while Alaska Airlines canceled 109, or 18%.
Similar cancellations are expected on Wednesday.