Boeing CEO says company has 'much to prove'

Dave Calhoun told Boeing employees in a memo the company must earn back trust

Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun acknowledged Wednesday the company has "much to prove" as it works to regain trust after a door plug panel flew off one of its 737 Max 9 aircraft midflight earlier this month.

In a letter to employees released alongside the company's year-end 2023 results, Calhoun said he remains focused on the incident that occurred on an Alaska Airlines flight and how Boeing can strengthen its quality controls.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun

Dave Calhoun, CEO of Boeing, leaves a meeting with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., in Hart Building, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Calhoun was meeting with senators about recent safety issues, including the grounding of the 737 Max 9 planes.  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via / Getty Images)

"Over the last several weeks I’ve spoken to many of you, and I’ve had tough and direct conversations with our customers, regulators and lawmakers," Calhoun wrote. "They are disappointed and we have much to prove to earn our stakeholders’ confidence. There is no message or slogan to do that. It will take transparency and demonstrated action – that starts with each of us along with a commitment to listening to each other and speaking up."

He added, "We’ve taken significant steps over the last several years to strengthen our safety and quality processes, but this accident makes it absolutely clear that we have more work to do."

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Boeing has been under the microscope ever since the Jan. 5 incident when a passenger door flew off while the plane was flying at 16,000 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all 737 Max 9s with plug doors in order to carry out detail inspections.

Boeing Logo

The Boeing regional headquarters on April 29, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via / Getty Images)

The ban has since been lifted, but the FAA prohibited Boeing from boosting production of the 737 Max 9s, and the regulator has increased its oversight of the manufacturer.

"This increased scrutiny – whether from ourselves, from our regulator, or from others – will make us better," Calhoun wrote in his memo to employees.

ALASKA AIRLINES PLANE MAY HAVE LEFT BOEING FACTORY WITHOUT BOLTS TO SECURE DOOR PLUG: REPORT

As expected, Calhoun did not offer a financial or delivery forecast for 2024, stating that the company must focus on delivering quality airplanes.

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BA THE BOEING CO. 169.82 -0.41 -0.24%

Boeing Co.

For the fourth quarter, Boeing reported an adjusted per-share loss of 47 cents, compared with an adjusted loss of $1.75 per share a year ago. Revenue rose 10% to $22 billion.

Quarterly free cash flow fell to $2.95 billion from $3.13 billion. The company's ailing defense business also logged $139 million in losses on fixed-price development programs.

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In its earnings release, Boeing did not provide an update to its 2025-26 cash flow and Max production forecast amid lingering industry doubts on whether the plane maker will be able to achieve those targets after the FAA's unprecedented decision.

Reuters contributed to this report.