FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2019, file photo Boeing Company President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg appears before a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on ‘Aviation Safety and the Future of Boeing’s 737 MAX’ on Capitol Hill in Washington. Muilenburg is resigning amid ongoing problems at the company over the troubled Max 737 aircraft. The board of directors said Monday, Dec. 23 that Muilenburg is stepping down immediately. The board’s current chairman David Calhoun will become president and CEO on Jan. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

After deadly crashes of marquee aircraft, Boeing CEO is out

Boeing said last week that production of the Max would be wound down in January

Boeing’s CEO is stepping down with no end in sight for a crisis that has enveloped the manufacturer and its marquee aircraft, the Max 737.

The Chicago manufacturer said Monday that Dennis Muilenburg will depart immediately. The board’s current chairman David Calhoun will officially take over on January 13.

The Max was grounded worldwide after two crashes — one in October 2018 off the cost of Indonesia and another in March 2019 in Ethiopia — which killed a combined total of 346 people. The company’s board said a change in leadership is needed to restore confidence in the company as it works to repair relationships with regulators and stakeholders.

“This is something that we have been asking and struggling for quite some time,” said Ababu Amha, who lost his wife, an flight attendant, in the second crash involving an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft. “The CEO reluctantly and deliberately kept the aircraft in service after the Lion Air crash. The Ethiopian Airlines crash was a preventable accident.”

READ MORE: Canadian airlines to feel pinch of Boeing 737 Max 8 production halt

The resignation, however, is not enough, Amha said. “They should further be held accountable for their actions because what they did was a crime.”

The Max is crucial to Boeing and it’s been unable to get approval from regulators to put the plane back in the air. Sales at Airbus, Boeing’s top rival, surged 28% during the first half of the year.

Investigators say that in both crashes, a faulty sensor caused the plane’s MCAS system to push the nose of the plane down and pilots were unable to regain control.

Boeing declined to make Calhoun or other executives available Monday. An email to employees said Greg Smith will serve as interim CEO. “This has obviously been a difficult time for our company, and our people have pulled together in extraordinary ways,” Smith said in the email.

Earlier this month, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration expressed concern that Boeing was pushing for an unrealistically quick return of the grounded 737 Max.

Calhoun says he strongly believes in the future of Boeing and the 737 Max.

Boeing said last week that production of the Max would be wound down in January. The shutdown will likely ripple through Boeing’s vast network of 900 companies that make engines, bodies and other parts for the 737.

Then United Airlines said it would pull the Boeing 737 Max from its flight schedule until June. The same day, Spirit AeroSystems, which makes fuselages, said it would end deliveries intended for the Max in January, and Boeing’s new Starliner capsule went off course on a planned trip to the International Space Station.

READ MORE: Boeing replaces executive who oversaw 737 Max, other planes

Board member Lawrence Kellner will become non-executive chairman of the board.

“On behalf of the entire board of directors, I am pleased that Dave has agreed to lead Boeing at this critical juncture,” Mr. Kellner said in a prepared statement. “Dave has deep industry experience and a proven track record of strong leadership, and he recognizes the challenges we must confront. The board and I look forward to working with him and the rest of the Boeing team to ensure that today marks a new way forward for our company.”

The crashes and the decisions that were made leading up to those tragedies have shaken Boeing.

“The company appears to have known about safety issues for quite some time. This indicates that there might be more fundamental cultural issues at the company,” said Tim Hubbard, assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. “Furthermore, the recent failure of a rocket test launch indicates that the company might not be as innovative as they once were. Increasing innovativeness and changing the culture of a company the size of Boeing is challenging. One way to jump start changes at Boeing could be new leadership.”

Boeing’s new Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit after lifting off on its first test flight Friday, a blow to the company’s effort to launch astronauts for NASA next year.

Trades of Boeing shares were halted before the announcement but the stock jumped 3% after the opening bell.

Muilenburg’s departure was long overdue, said Robert Clifford, a Chicago lawyer representing several people who are suing Boeing after losing relatives in the second crash, which occurred March 10 in Ethiopia.

“Mr. Muilenburg and other Boeing leaders deliberately put the desire for a heightened stock price and profits over safety by allowing the 737 Max 8 to stay in service after the Lion Air crash” in October 2018, Clifford said. Boeing directors, he said, deserve no praise for ousting Muilenburg now.

___

Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Dave Koenig in Dallas contributed.

Cathy Bussewitz, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Victoria new mom group navigates challenges of motherhood in a pandemic

Monarch Moms meet once a week for physically-distanced connection

Courtenay artist Bill Bolten recently presented Dr. Bonnie Henry with this carving of a yellow warbler. Photo supplied.
Courtenay carver creates gift for Dr. Bonnie Henry

Bill Bolten presented the carving to B.C.’s public health officer in person

Painters Jim Tulip, Doug Mackenzie and Gary Henslowe were painting the exterior of the Duncan Butcher Shop and Apple Press printing shop, located between the Trans Canada Highway and Whistler Street, on Oct. 8 as part of neighbourhood painting project. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan’s Whistler Street sees a fresh lick of paint in opioid battle

Group wants to help clean up community, one street at a time

Maureen Cue, owner of Disguise the Limit costume shop, models – maybe the most obvious – pandemic costume. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Vancouver Island costume expert showcases pandemic-safe Halloween looks

Maureen Cue models the best masked Halloween costumes

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Visitors stroll through Goldstream Provincial Park on a calm, crisp Sunday. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Visitors flock to Goldstream Provincial Park for 2020 salmon run

‘I wanted to come here before I move back to Australia,’ says visitor

File Photo
Planned power outage in Port Alice Oct. 27

BC Hydro crews to work from midnight to 4 a.m. replacing substation equipment

Greg Duerksen and his family. (gofundme photo)
Firefighter prepares for stem cell transplant

Friends rally to help raise funds for Duerksen family

Legendary Vancouver-based blues and jazz guitarist and vocalist Jim Byrnes will perform live at the Tidemark Theatre in a concert that will also be streamed. Contributed photo
Legendary blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes hits the Island

Playing Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre for a hybrid live/online show

Conservation officers hope the public can provide information about who shot and left a bull and cow Roosevelt elk near Spruston Road, south of Nanaimo. (Facebook photo)
Pair of Roosevelt elk shot and left in woods south of Nanaimo

Conservation officers hope public can help find who killed the animals near Spruston Road

Most Read