An influential airline exec is sounding the alarm on Boeing and its leadership over the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner scandals

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An influential airline exec is sounding the alarm on Boeing and its leadership over the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner scandals
Sir Tim Clark, president of the Middle Eastern mega carrier Emirates.AP
  • Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, is concerned about Boeing's continued issues on its newest planes.
  • Clark cited issues with the Boeing 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777X aircraft in a recent interview.
  • The 737 Max was just ungrounded after issues with the aircraft's software caused two crashes.

Most airlines are ready to move on from Boeing's 737 Max crisis following the plane's 20-month grounding - but one executive continues to sound the alarm about the company's performance in recent years.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, criticized the manufacturer's leadership and recent problems with three of its important planes in an interview with The Air Current published Tuesday. Specifically, Clark criticized Boeing's 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777X, all of which have been marred by safety concerns, quality control issues, and production delays.

The problem, he says, stems from Boeing's board of directors.

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"Culpability for the culture, strategy, direction, priority of that company rests with the Boeing board and nobody else, Clark told The Air Current. "And that's where the buck should stop. And that's where they need to get themselves sorted out."

Clark has long been outspoken over the issues at Boeing, levying similar complaints in a January Reuters interview: "Clearly there were process and practices, attitudes - DNA if you like - that needed to be resolved from the top down," he said at the time.

Boeing shuffled its top leadership amid the Max grounding, firing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and installing Dave Calhoun, a board member, as his replacement. But Clark said it wasn't enough: "It is pointless shuffling the deck."

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"Boeing need to take a good hard look at themselves; I'm sure they have," he continued.

Emirates operates hundreds of Boeing 777 aircraft and will be the first airline to take delivery of the upcoming 777X. The largest twin-engine jet aircraft in the world, the 777X has been delayed again until late 2023, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Emirates is also set to receive a 787 Dreamliner in 2023 following a 2019 order.

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Both the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner have been under near-constant scrutiny in recent years following safety and quality control issues. The 737 Max, notably, causing the deaths of 346 passengers across two crashes due to a software issue.

Quality control issues at Boeing's South Carolina plant have called the Dreamliner's safety into question and prompted additional groundings. Boeing may have to spend additional hundreds of millions to resolve the issues.

Emirates doesn't operate the 737 Max and has largely been spared of those issues. The plane returned to the skies in November, and has flown more than 2,700 flights since. Meanwhile orders have been pouring in from airlines including United Airlines, Ryanair, and Alaska Airlines.

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Still, Clark remains a vocal critic of the aircraft as it returns.

"I regret having to say all this, but I kind of, I think it needs to be said, otherwise, we're just going to move on our of the Max era, as if nothing happened," Clark told The Air Current.

Only two Max flights have encountered issues since the ungrounding, and both were due to engine incidents unrelated to the faulty software that brought down the Max aircraft. An American Airlines flight, most recently, was forced to land with one engine shut down due to a mechanical issue.

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Canada's WestJet also scrapped a Boeing 737 Max flight after its pilots encountered an engine warning light that the airline said required an engine run, a spokesperson told CBC. The airline, which used the Max for flights as far as Hawaii and Europe prior to the grounding, has since resumed flights without issue.

Boeing declined to comment for The Air Current story and when asked by Insider about Clark's concerns,

"I believe they still have work to do in Boeing to get themselves sorted out," Clark told Reuters. "There is a top-down culpability and accountability and they need to recognize that."

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