CEO Dennis Muilenburg began his remarks Monday with a moment of silence for the 346 people killed in the two crashes, according to his prepared remarks reviewed by CNN Business. He insisted that Boeing makes safety its top priority, and he said the company has been doing everything it can to find a solution. And he vowed the 737 Max to become the safest plane in the air once Boeing is developing a fix to the automatic safety feature that is the focus of the two crash investigations.
"These enduring values are at the core of everything we do, "Muilenburg said in his prepared remarks. "We have the responsibility to design, build and support the safest airplanes in the sky. Recent accidents have only intensified our dedication to it."
The resolution was predated by the current 737 Max crisis.
"Shareholders would benefit from the most robust form of independent supervision to ensure that the company's management is able to regain the confidence of regulators, customers and other key stakeholders, "
Muilenburg also said a preliminary vote showed that 92% of the shares supported the company's executive compensation package.
A small group of protesters braved pouring rain and cold outside of the annual meeting. Most held large photos of some of the people who have been killed on the two flights. One held signs reading "Boeing's arrogance kills" and "Prosecute Boeing & execs for manslaughter."
Muilenburg defended that earlier decision to include the alert as an option in his prepared remarks.
"We do not make safety features optional," he said. "Every one of our airplanes includes all the safety features necessary for safe flight."
Muilenburg again said that the company is getting close to a software fix. It has completed 146 flights of the 737 Max, totaling roughly 246 hours of air time with the updated software. He said he personally has flown on two of those test flights.
And in response to a shareholder question, Muilenburg said the Boeing executives would be on some of the early commercial flights once the planes returned to service.
"It will include me and many others," he said. "This is a very important part in showing our confidence in our product. Our Boeing staff are very supportive of doing that."
Muilenburg faced several questions from shareholders on how the problem with the 737 Max could have happened.
"You seem to have rushed the 737 [Max] into production and have lost sight of some basic file-safe things that go on," said one shareholder. "It should never have happened that you had one easily damaged sensor control, a new, critically designed safety feature."
Muilenburg insisted that the 737 Max was not rushed. He said the plane took six years to develop and that the equipment was considered safe.
"I want to assure you safety is our top priority," Muilenburg said. "That said, we can always improve."
The safety feature forces a plane's nose if a sensor detects it is climbing too fast and at the risk of a stall. Apparently the sensor on the two flights gave false reading. Two weeks after the Ethiopian crash, Boeing announced the software fix would add data from the second sensor, which measures the horizontal plane of the plane.
– CNN's Glen Dacy contributed to this report.