Boeing faces a “serious challenge” and an uncertain outlook as it seeks to restore confidence, its Chairman Dave Calhoun admitted, announcing the company's latest financial results on Wednesday.
Confidence in the company has been shaken since the panel of one of its 737 MAX 9 planes broke in mid-air.
The incident raised questions again, five years after two fatal accidents involving another version of its aircraft.
Mr. Calhoun is trying to show that the company is taking the situation seriously.
In a call with financial analysts, he apologized and said that the company bears responsibility, regardless of the conclusions of the ongoing official investigation into the reason for this.
“We caused the problem and we understand that,” he said. “We simply must do better.”
The quarterly investor update is the company's first since the Alaska Airlines flight incident, which terrorized passengers and forced an emergency return to Portland, Oregon, airport without serious injuries.
Mr Calhoun had previously blamed a “quality flight”.
Reports indicate that the panel was installed incorrectly when the plane left the Boeing factory.
That has prompted fresh scrutiny of the company's manufacturing record, which critics say has suffered as the company seeks to cut costs and speed up deliveries.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched an investigation into Boeing's manufacturing process and has barred the company from expanding production of its popular 737 aircraft.
Some of the company's largest airline customers have also expressed concerns, noting that the problems could delay approval of new versions of the 737 that are in the works.
Mr. Calhoun said the company would submit to regulators.
“I know that these moments that can impact delivery schedules can frustrate our customers and investors, but quality and safety must come before everything,” he said.
“We will go slow and encourage and reward employees for speaking up to slow things down if that is what is needed,” he said.
On the call with investors, Mr. Calhoun limited his prepared remarks to the company's response to the Alaska Airlines emergency.
The company also said it would not provide formal financial guidance for 2024.
“While we often use this time of year to share or update our financial and operational goals, now is not the time to do so,” Calhoun wrote in a letter to employees accompanying the findings.
Analysts pressed Calhoun on what the turmoil would mean for the company in the coming years, with one questioning how the lapse could come about after the company was in the spotlight in the wake of the collapses in 2018 and 2019.
Among aviation safety activists, the emergency sparked calls for new leadership and the removal of Calhoun, who has served on the board since 2009 and was appointed CEO after previous incidents.
“They had their chance,” said Michael Stumo, whose daughter was killed in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 and is now a vocal advocate for airline safety. “They failed. They are unable or unwilling to do the job and they have to leave.” “.
The September-December investor update showed that the manufacturing giant is currently producing 737 aircraft at a rate of 38 per month.
Revenues rose 10% to $22 billion, while the company's losses in the quarter narrowed to $283 million.
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