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GOLDEN PARACHUTE

Boeing’s fired CEO keeps $80 million in pay and benefits despite crashes, cover ups, and scandal

Jim Young/Pool via Reuters
Fired Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.
  • Max de Haldevang
By Max de Haldevang

Geopolitics reporter

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s former CEO, left the company with $80.7 million in pay and benefits, after being fired over two aircraft crashes that killed 346 people in total. His compensation dwarfs the $50 million set aside for families of the crash victims.

Boeing denied Muilenberg severance pay and forced him to forfeit stock awards worth tens of millions of dollars, but he keeps $62 million in pay and pension benefits. He also keeps unexercised stock options worth $18.5 million.

Records handed to Congress paint a picture of Boeing as an organization rife with cover-ups and attempts to dodge regulatory oversight. In an internal message, one employee described the 737 Max, the aircraft model which crashed in October 2018 and again in March 2019, as “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

One message showed the company planning to push back against any regulatory attempts to require pilots undergo new simulator training before flying the 737 Max. “I want to stress the importance of holding firm that there will not be any type of simulator training required to transition from NG to Max,” Boeing’s 737 chief technical pilot said in a 2017 email referring to the Max’s predecessor the 737 Next Gen. “Boeing will not allow that to happen. We’ll go face to face with any regulator who tries to make that a requirement.”

In other messages, Boeing employees tell each other they wouldn’t let their family fly on a 737 Max. In 2018, an employee refers to a cover-up he carried out. “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” wrote the employee, who didn’t describe the cover-up. “Can’t do it one more time, the pearly gates will be closed.”

The US’s Federal Aviation Authority has proposed fining Boeing $5.4 million for “knowingly” installing faulty wing parts on nearly 200 planes. The 737 Max crashes are believed to have been caused by software failures.

The entire 737 Max fleet has been grounded since March 2019. Former GE executive and longtime Boeing board member David Calhoun is now the company’s CEO.

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