Boeing CEO Resigns amid Ongoing 737 Max Scandal

POLITICS & POLICY
Boeing Co Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg pauses while speaking at a news conference at the annual shareholder meeting in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., April 29, 2019. ( Jim Young/Reuters)

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg resigned Monday, the latest turmoil in a string of ongoing problems for the company over its flawed 737 Max aircraft.

The board’s current chairman David Calhoun will officially take over on January 13, the company also announced. In October, Boeing stripped Muilenburg of his chairman role and gave it to Calhoun, a senior executive at Blackstone Group and longtime board director.

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

“Dave has deep industry experience and a proven track record of strong leadership, and he recognizes the challenges we must confront,” Keller said in a statement. “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.”

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A critical profile published Sunday in the Wall Street Journal found Muilenburg had struggled with “public relations, technical hurdles and restoring passenger confidence” amid the fallout over a series of crashes, and had been slow to accept that the company was at fault for design flaws that contributed to the accidents.

Two 737 Max planes crashed within five months of each other, one in Indonesia in 2017 and another in Ethiopia in 2018, killing a total of 346 people. The planes have been grounded worldwide since the incidents, which many have blamed on faulty software that was installed to prevent the jets from pitching up — but had caused some to nosedive instead.

According to the Journal, Muilenburg and Calhoun had become increasingly at odds over production rates of the 737 Max, with Calhoun urging a slowdown in production. Around 400 finished planes have piled up at Boeing facilities since the aircraft was grounded in the wake of the crashes.

Boeing had been attempting to win approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to let the plane fly again. However, the F.A.A. has pushed back against the company’s efforts. Earlier this month, the Journal reported that the Federal Aviation Administration allowed Boeing 737 Max jets to remain in the air, despite analysis predicting more crashes.

Last week, Boeing decided to discontinue production of the 737 Max in January, despite it being the best-selling airplane in history.

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