So what needs to happen at Boeing (BA) now?
First, Boeing needs to fess up. I know that Dennis Muilenburg always thought, from day one, there was nothing to fess up about. That's wrong. That was wrong from day one, after the first plane crash. Maybe a second crash could have been averted.
Whatever, it wasn't.
But there are three distinct periods that must be investigated:
- How the plane was made and the mistakes and corners cut - if there were any - and internal dissent that could have saved lives. This is crucial: was there someone overridden who knew this could occur who was at a high level? Was there internal discussion about whether there wasn't enough redundancy? Were there really decisions made that were about profit before safety?
- After the first plane crash did people forward who were punished for doing so? Were any of the internal dissensions - of which there seem to be many - ever taken seriously? How much was simply swept under the rug?
- After the second plane crash when it was obvious that something was wrong, were there people who spoke up and were ignored? The emails will show everything, maybe too much of everything, but that's what has to happen.
Next, like Wells Fargo (WFC) , a distinguished, unassailable law firm has to painstakingly interview everyone to try to figure out how to fix the culture. This part is never easy and drags on and on. But that has to happen. I am not saying that this is like "The Fugitive", where doctors covered up deaths from a drug, but it does seem like we must find out what the heck is going on there and what did go on before this plane is going to fly.
After that it is obvious, at least to me, that there are many people who will have to go who were complicit with what seems like a bunker culture of the CEO.
Thank heavens David Calhoun is there. He's the real deal, meaning, again, unassailable and independent. His job is to get that plane so it is the safest ever made, or kill it and take the hit even if it means crushing the debt ratings until the company is back on track. Without that they will never get their customers back.
I am convinced that Boeing's real culture is one of great strength. At the same time someone, ex-military, who was high level in plane safety, needs to be brought in to advise, even if it means that there is more redundancy needed to pass that ex-military officer's smell test.
Otherwise this thing is never going to end.
Calhoun will fix it but the "it" must be blessed by outsiders.
Still, Boeing's out of the bunker, thank heavens, and the process of fixing a company that Dennis felt didn't need fixing, can begin.