Boeing starts management overhaul as CEO departs

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Boeing’s board has finally tried to assert its authority in its continuing quality control problems and dud machinery by forcing CEO Dave Calhoun to leave the company.

It will be a long goodbye for the man who took control in 2019 - after the two 737 Maxx crashes took the lives of 319 people in indonesia and Ethiopia - but then presided over a series of scandals involving the 787 Dreamliner, the company's workforce jet, the 777 and the 737 where bits of the plane fell off or were not installed before delivery.

Calhoun’s departure though is part of a sweeping overhaul at the embattled US aircraft manufacturer which will also see two other senior officials go -

Boeing said Calhoun will be joined by Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal, who is also leaving the Arlington, Virginia-based company.

Larry Kellner, Boeing's chairman of directors, is also resigning and will leave the board at the company’s annual meeting in May.

“The board of directors decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders,” Boeing said in a statement announcing the clean out.

The clean out came after a string of high-profile problems with its aircraft that has seen Boeing face tougher oversight from US regulators.

After problems in 2022 and 2023 with the 777 program and the 787 Dreamliner, 2024 started badly for Boeing when a door plug blew out of a 737 Max 9 jet minutes into an Alaska Airlines flight in early January.

Calhoun referred to that in his letter to staff on Monday, writing “As you all know, the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 accident was a watershed moment for Boeing.”

“We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency. We also must inculcate a total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company.”

“The eyes of the world are on us, and I know we will come through this moment a better company, building on all the learnings we accumulated as we worked together to rebuild Boeing over the last number of years,” he added.

Calhoun was a decade long insider on the Boeing board before taking the top job. He replaced Dennis Muilenburg who had resigned over the two 737 Max crashes. That plane was grounded for 20 months while safety and other problems were sorted.

That’s a lifted thumbs up for the changes from the market.

The problems with its jets, especially the 737, has worried Boeing’s customers with major US and European operators increasingly unhappy, led by Ryanair, United, American and Southwest Airlines.

In the wake of Monday’s announcement from Boeing, Ryanair, Boeing’s largest airline customer in Europe, said in a statement it welcomes the management changes.

“Stan Deal has done a great sales job for Boeing for many years, but he’s not the person to turn around the operation in Seattle, and that’s where most of the problems have been in recent years,” Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in a video posted to social media platform X.

United’s CEO, Scott Kirby, earlier this month said he urged Boeing to stop making yet-to-be-certified Max 10 planes for the company because it wasn’t clear when the FAA would clear those aircraft.

Last week, airline CEOs started scheduling meetings with Boeing directors to voice their displeasure at the lack of manufacturing quality controls and lower-than-expected production of 737 Max planes. The meetings were to include Kellner and one or more other board members.

Boeing shares rose 1.33% on Monday after the news. 

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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