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

Sylvan Lake Wranglers. File Photo
Sylvan Lake Wranglers ready for shorten hockey season

The HJHL will have a 20 game season, playing four games in a cohort and then going dark for 14 days

Decorate your vehicle for display at the second annual Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31 . (Blakc Press File Photo)
Sylvan Lake church to host a socially distanced Trunk or Treat on Halloween

Goblins and ghouls can go around to vehicles for their tricks or treats at the Alliance Church

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Alberta’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. The Alberta government is hoping to get more Albertans employed by moving to limit the number and type of temporary foreign workers it allows into the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to save jobs for Albertans

Temporary foreign workers already in the province won’t be affected

(Emily Jaycox/Bashaw Star)
Wreath laying ceremony held in Manfred, Alta.

Ceremony marks 64th anniversary of Hungarian revolution, honours settlers

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

Most Read