Boeing CEO Grilled by Senator on $32.8 Million Salary

Boeing’s embattled CEO David Calhoun appeared on Capitol Hill last Tuesday where he faced contentious questioning from senators who accused him of putting profits ahead of safety and failing to protect whistleblowers and even grilled him on his salary.

Family members of those killed in two Boeing 737 Max jetliner crashes packed the Senate hearing room, holding up signs bearing the names and pictures of those killed. The group at times angrily responded to some of Calhoun’s answers.

In his opening remarks before the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Calhoun turned to face the angry crowd to apologize for the grief Boeing caused them and vowed that the company would focus on safety.

Just hours before the hearing, the subcommittee released a report on allegations from another Boeing whistleblower who reported concerns that the company was using defective parts in its 737s.

Calhoun, who is retiring as CEO at the end of the year, faced blistering questioning from subcommittee members, with the harshest coming from Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley who repeatedly grilled the CEO about earning $32.8 million in compensation last year.

Hawley accused Calhoun of “strip-mining Boeing” by “cutting corners” and “cutting back jobs” while he attempted to “squeeze every piece of profit” he could from the company.

When Hawley demanded to know why Calhoun had not resigned, the embattled CEO insisted that he was “sticking through this.”

Calhoun told Hawley that he was proud to be the CEO of Boeing and added that he was proud of the employees and the company’s safety record, prompting an incredulous Hawley to ask, “You’re proud of the safety record?”

In his opening statement, subcommittee Chair Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) described last Tuesday’s hearing as “a moment of reckoning” on how the “once iconic company” “lost its way.”

The latest whistleblower, quality assurance investigator Sam Mohawk, told the Senate panel that “nonconforming” parts, including parts that are defective, could be used in the 737 Max jets.

Mohawk also accused Boeing of hiding evidence after the FAA informed the company about a planned inspection of the 737 assembly plant in June of last year.