Monday, March 25, 2024

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to Step Down Alongside Other Executives

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to Step Down Alongside Other Executives 

Three senior Boeing executives, including CEO Dave Calhoun, are stepping down as the commercial airliner maker is embroiled in a deepening scandal over the quality of its products.

In a companywide message on March 25, Mr. Calhoun called it a “watershed moment” for Boeing when a door panel blew out on a 737-9 Max plane flown by Alaska Airlines in January.

“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,” he told Boeing employees.

“The eyes of the world are on us,” he said, referring to the increasing scrutiny from the public, government regulators, and flying industry over Boeing’s ability to make sure that its passenger jets are safe and functional.

While Mr. Calhoun expressed hope that Boeing will come through this particularly difficult period as a better company, he emphasized that both he and the board of directors believe that this is the “right time for a CEO transition.” As a result, 2024 will be the last year that he will act as the chief executive of the company.

“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve in both roles, and I will only feel the journey has been properly completed when we finish the job that we need to do,” Mr. Calhoun said. “We are going to fix what isn’t working, and we are going to get our company back on the track toward recovery and stability.”

The announcement of his departure at the end of this year was accompanied by some immediate leadership changes.

For one, Larry Kellner, Boeing’s board chairman, will not seek reelection for his position at the upcoming annual general meeting scheduled for April. According to Mr. Calhoun, after being the chairman for more than four years and 13 years on the company’s board, Mr. Kellner decided that it was an “appropriate moment” for him to turn over the reins.

The board has elected Steve Mollenkopf as the new chair. He is tasked with leading the process of finding a new chief executive for Boeing.

Stan Deal, CEO and president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, retired effective on March 25. He will be replaced by Stephanie Pope, who has been the chief operating officer of Boeing since January.

According to Mr. Calhoun, the company had over the past five years faced “some of the most significant challenges our company and industry have ever faced in our 108-year history.”

Mr. Calhoun took on the role amid what’s popularly known as the Boeing 737 MAX crisis, when the Federal Aviation Administration joined other major global aviation regulators to ground the 737 MAX for more than a year because of fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia just five months apart in 2018 and 2019.

The two disasters, which killed a total of 346 passengers and crew, were both found to be tied to a design flaw in the jet’s flight control system. The crashes also spurred numerous lawsuits against the plane maker, including one brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2021, Boeing paid a $244 million fine as part of a $2.5 billion settlement, in which the Justice Department agreed to not prosecute Boeing.

While Mr. Calhoun navigated Boeing out of the 737 MAX crisis, his successor would have to deal with the evolving fallout from the Alaska Airlines flight.

Most recently, passengers onboard the flight that suffered a mid-air door plug blowout have been told by the FBI via a letter that they may have been victims of a possible crime.

The letter, written by a victim specialist with the FBI’s Seattle office, states that the case is currently under FBI investigation, which “can be a lengthy undertaking.” But the FBI is unable to provide updates on its progress for the time being, it added.

“I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime,” the letter, which was received last week, reads, according to The Associated Press. “A victim of a federal crime is entitled to receive certain services.”

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