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)

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The regional jobs picture has improved. (Innovate Impact Media/Creative Commons photo)
Northwest unemployment rate dips again

Is now second lowest of any region in B.C.

Cedar Valley Lodge, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the LNG Canada Project site in Kitimat. The most recent outbreak among workers at the project site was just declared over. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Second COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site declared over

The outbreak was first declared on Dec. 16, 2020

The first of two massive turbines headed from Prince Rupert for the Site C Dam near Fort St. John on Jan 10. (Photo: Supplied by Tasha McKenzie)
Massive turbines begin trek across Northwestern B.C.

Turbines headed from Prince Rupert to Site C Dam to cause traffic delays week of Jan. 10 to 14

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Most Read