Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg apologized on Tuesday during a testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee.
The company has seen nothing but trouble in the months following the deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia — its stock sliding and aviation regulators questioning whether the company can be trusted.
Muilenburg told the committee “we know we made some mistakes and got some things wrong," referring to how the company handled the design and production of the 737 Max 8 jet.
In total, the two crashes killed 346 people.
Reading from a prepared statement in the hearing, Muilenburg recognized that the crashes were related to a faulty sensor in the plane's MCAS system. These sensors, as has been reported, gave incorrect readings to the plane's control system and caused them to begin a nosedive. Pilots would struggle to lift the plan upward and in the case of the two deadly crashes, they failed to do just that.
The hearing wasn't just an apology from the Boeing leader. Senators from around the country took the time to push Muilenburg on Boeing's lobbying efforts to weaken the Federal Aviation Administration's regulatory authority. It was recently uncovered that the company's former Chief Technical Pilot discussed "Jedi mind tricking" the regulators.
Boeing CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, testified before Congress for the first time since the deadly 737 Max Jet crashes. Muilenburg issued apologies and assurances, which did little to pacify angry senators. #NexstarDC pic.twitter.com/BlOQa99sBN— Alexandra Limon (@AlexLimonNews) October 29, 2019
It was also noted that the company recommended that all references to the MCAS system be removed from the pilot manual prior to the release of the new plane.
Muilenburg continued with the seemingly heartfelt apology, offering his "deepest sympathies" to victims' families and airlines.
Notably, however, Muilenburg dodged questioning around whether Boeing had failed to properly disclose the problems with MCAS to pilots and airlines before the launch of the plane.
Boeing is currently up against roughly 150 lawsuits from the various families of the victims who passed in the two crashes. In a display symbolizing their unwillingness to be silent, several family members of victims appeared at the hearing holding photos of their loved ones.
In a sincere and emotional moment, Muilenburg was pressured to face the victim's families and apologize directly. Boeing's leader turned to face Nadia Milleron, the family member who posed a question, and apologized directly, saying "I'm sorry."
The 737 Max 8 continues to be grounded as it has been since March of this year. Muilenburg stated that he hopes regulators across the world only "approve the return of the Max to the skies" after they have put the plane under "rigorous scrutiny."
In the same statement, the CEO of Boeing mentioned how much the groundings were causing trouble in the industry, both for airlines and customers. This comment was likely meant to urge regulators not to leave the planes grounded indefinitely.
According to the FAA, the agency is still determining how or when the plane will be allowed to return to service.