Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to step down at end of year amid plane-maker’s woes

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to step down at end of year amid plane-maker’s woes

The top executive at embattled plane-maker Boeing will step down this year amid a broader shakeup of the company’s leadership, capping a tumultuous five-plus years that have shaken faith in one of America’s most storied manufacturers.

In a letter to employees announcing his departure, CEO Dave Calhoun wrote that the company is focused on returning Boeing “to stability after the extraordinary challenges of the past five years, with safety and quality at the forefront of everything that we do.”

Board chair Larry Kellner has also told the company he doesn’t plan to stand for re-election. Stan Deal, president and CEO of its commercial airplanes unit, will retire from the company. Stephanie Pope will now lead the division.

Boeing has come under intense scrutiny over its manufacturing process since a pair of its marquee aircraft crashed, killing hundreds of people in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Those problems have snowballed and The Federal Aviation Administration recently ordered an audit of assembly lines at a Boeing factory near Seattle, where the company builds planes like the Alaska Airlines 737 Max, which suffered a door-panel blowout on Jan. 5.

Investigators say bolts that help keep the panel in place were missing after repair work at the Boeing factory.

Calhoun took over the company after CEO Dennis Muilenburg was ousted following the two crashes. 

Boeing under intense pressure from airlines

Boeing is also under intense pressure from the CEOs of various airlines, who have been outspoken in their frustration with Boeing’s manufacturing problems, which have slowed deliveries of planes that the carriers were counting on.

Southwest Airlines recently said it was re-evaluating its financial expectations for this year because of related delays in the delivery of planes.

WATCH | Is Boeing any safer 5 years after the 737 Max crashes?: 

5 years after 737 Max crashes, is Boeing any safer?

Five years after a pair of deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max-8s and the mass grounding of the jets, the door blew off a Boeing jet mid-flight. CBC’s Susan Ormiston breaks down the aviation giant’s struggle to salvage its reputation after the Max-8 crashes and ongoing questions about the safety of some of its jets.

Calhoun acknowledged that Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 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,” he said.

The board has elected Steve Mollenkopf to succeed Kellner as independent board chair. In this role, Mollenkopf will lead the board’s process of choosing Boeing’s next CEO.

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