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

Rotary president Isabelle Simard, middle, and Rotary members Michele LaPointe and Bob Finnie are hoping the 12 days of Christmas shop local contest can help local businesses mitigate COVID-19. (Claire Palmer photo)
Rotary looks to support local businesses

The contest will kick off on Dec. 12

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Update: Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections, 4 in ICU

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital, 4 in intensive care

The Golden Nordic Club is working towards a COVID-safe winter ski season opening. (File photo)
Golden Nordic Ski Club working towards opening

While Dawn Mountain is provincially run and open, the chalet and Nordic Club are not as of yet

The Interact Club meets in 2019 for their annual Anti-Grinch project. This year, the club members will add the Angel Tree to their list of Christmas charitable causes. (Contributed)
Interact Club takes on Angel Tree

With changes to this year’s Anti-Grinch project, there is increased capacity for the Angel Tree

santa.
Morning Start: Santa Claus has an official pilot’s license

Your morning start for Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020

The Winnipeg-based app released its 2020 findings thus far showing the people of Vernon jumped at the opportunity to support its local favourites amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (SkipTheDishes photo)
Pandemic pushes 50% more Vernon eateries on SkipTheDishes

‘Vernon is a trendsetter,’ delivery app says after revealing city’s favourite takeout foods

Paule Moore, formerly known as Paule Seeger. (TNG Legal Services)
Kelowna lawyer to face disciplinary hearing over alleged misappropriated funds

Paule Moore, née Seeger, is accused of withdrawing client trust funds a number of times when she was not entitled to do so

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Access to a Bastion Road property in Sunnybrae was blocked with officers on scene on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (File photo)
Report clears RCMP actions that led to fatal shooting of Shuswap suspect

Independent Investigations Office of BC releases findings on Jan. 7 incident in Tappen

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read