Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) was today joined by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) in calling on the Boeing Company’s Board of Directors to immediately cancel a $7 million bonus payment for its new CEO. The company filed a report last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission that declared David L. Calhoun is eligible for the bonus if he returns the 737 MAX to service. Previous reports indicate that Boeing rushed the design, production, and certification of the 737 MAX in the pursuit of profit, opening the door to decisions that ultimately endangered public safety and resulted in the deaths of 346 people aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. An incentive payment conditioned on the ungrounding of the 737 MAX continues this pattern of negligent corporate-decision-making and shows that Boeing is still prioritizing profit over safety.
“This payment represents a clear financial incentive for Mr. Calhoun to pressure regulators into ungrounding the 737 MAX, as well as rush the investigations and reforms needed to guarantee public safety,” write the Senators in their letter to Boeing’s Board of Directors. “We believe that this bonus would be unconscionable in the face of two tragic plane crashes and proof that Boeing has not learned its lesson.”
In their letter, the Senators also express concern about a $62 million exit package that Boeing is providing to its former CEO, Dennis A. Muilenburg. The magnitude of this compensation stands in stark contrast to a recent announcement that 2,800 employees on Boeing’s supply chain have received layoff notices due to the “ongoing uncertainty” surrounding the 737 MAX.
Senator Markey introduced the Safety is Not for Sale Act, legislation that would prohibit airplane manufacturers like Boeing from charging additional fees for safety-enhancing equipment. According to multiple reports and investigations, the two 737 MAX aircraft that tragically crashed lacked safety-enhancing features that Boeing only sold for an extra fee but could have helped the pilots and aviation mechanics recognize false readings from sensors connected to the plane’s new flight control system.