Taking his seat before Congress, Boeing’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun said, “I would like to apologise, on behalf of all of our Boeing associates spread throughout the world, past and present, for your losses. And I apologise for the grief that we have caused.”

Calhoun was seated beside families who lost relatives in the 2018 and 2019 crashes of the company’s 737 Max 8 planes. They demanding that he turn around and acknowledge them and photos of their loved ones.

Tuesday’s hearing was Calhoun’s first appearance before Congress since a January incident in which the door plug of a 737 Max 9 plane ripped off during an Alaska Airlines flight at an elevation of about 16,000 feet. A Senate investigative panel questioned Calhoun about reports of the company targetting whistle-blowers who raised safety and quality concerns. He was also quizzed on how parts made of questionable titanium made it into Boeing aircraft without detection and allegations of falsified test records.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican of Missouri, said Calhoun failed to foster a culture of transparency and safety at Boeing, noting how the company has come under intense federal scrutiny under his leadership.

Calhoun accepted responsibility for the crashes. “I accept that MCAS and Boeing are responsible for those crashes,” Calhoun said. “We are responsible.” MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) is a flight-stabilising feature that caused the 2018 and 2019 crashes.

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