Problems with the Boeing 737 MAX. Problems with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. And now … problems over a lunar lander bid?
According to Aerospace Technology, the aviation manufacturing giant — its reputation already in tatters — has reportedly agreed to an independent ethics probe over a lunar landing vehicles bid.
Last month, the company entered a “compliance program enhancements” agreement with NASA and the US Air Force, Reuters reported.
As part of the agreement, a “third-party expert” will evaluate and review its ethics and compliance programmes and practices. Boeing will bear the expenses.
Federal prosecutors are looking into allegations that Doug Loverro, the former head of NASA’s human exploration program, improperly guided Boeing space executive Jim Chilton during the contract bidding process for the lunar lander, News Break reported.
In April, NASA awarded US$967 million in lander development contracts to three bidders, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Leidos Holdings subsidiary Dynetics, notably snubbing Boeing.
Loverro resigned from NASA in May, and although Chilton remains at Boeing, Reuters reports that the company has fired one company lawyer and a number of mid-level employees.
NASA and the US Air Force are its space division’s top customers, the report said.
Boeing spokesman Damien Mills was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We did not meet our own high expectations, or those of our customer, in the (human landing systems) procurement.
“We appreciate the productive dialogue we have had with the agencies and believe that the agreement will help to ensure that we will meet those expectations in the future.”
The move has also seen the aircraft manufacturer amend its internal Procurement Integrity Act procedures.
The incident with NASA brings back memories of an early 2000s scandal involving Boeing’s then-CFO Michael Sears and Air Force procurement officer Darleen Druyun, who collaborated in the lead-up to the Air Force’s choice of a contractor to replace the nation’s fleet of refueling tankers, News Break reported.
Druyun and Sears both went to jail over the incident, and the fallout led to the eventual resignation of Boeing CEO Phil Condit.