The US company has prioritized financial performance over engineering excellence, according to Tim Clark
US aerospace giant Boeing is in the “last chance saloon” in light of the long decline in the company’s manufacturing performance, Tim Clark, the head of Emirates Airline, has said.
One of the most high-profile figures in aviation, Clark told the Financial Times on Sunday that he had seen a “progressive decline” in Boeing’s standards, which he put down to long-running management and governance missteps, including prioritizing financial performance over engineering excellence. Clark also said he was preparing to send his own engineers to oversee the US plane maker’s production lines.
“They have got to instill this safety culture which is second to none. They’ve got to get their manufacturing processes under review so there are no corners cut etc. I’m sure [chief executive] Dave Calhoun and [commercial head] Stan Deal are on that . . . this is the last chance saloon,” said Clark, who has held senior roles at Emirates since the 1980s and has been the airline’s president since 2003. One of Boeing’s largest customers, Emirates in November placed an order for 95 wide-body Boeing 777 and 787 jets.
Boeing’s previous management made numerous mistakes, the Emirates boss claimed. Those included outsourcing some of its manufacturing and moving parts of the 787 production to South Carolina to cut costs following battles with unions at its primary base north of Seattle, Washington. Boeing lost “skills and competencies” through the move, argued Clark.
He further stated that the US company’s manufacturing processes needed a thorough review, while its management should put aside concerns about financial performance.
“It needs a root and branch look at how it goes about producing aeroplanes and where it produces aeroplanes . . . that’s just good management, good governance and it should be the priority of everybody on the board.
“Not: ‘what is the return on investment? What is the bottom line? What is the free cash flow? What is the shareholder value? What is the share value? What is my bonus?’ No, that will come if you do it right in the first place,” Clark stressed.
The Emirates boss’ comments come as Boeing has seen a new wave of groundings and safety checks following the mid-flight blowout incident of a section of the fuselage on a 737 Max 9 aircraft last month. The US Federal Aviation Administration has imposed a series of restrictions on the 737 MAX jets since then, temporarily prohibiting the company from expanding their production over passenger safety concerns.
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