Boeing boss and chairman head for exit amid safety crisis

By John Mercury March 26, 2024

Boeing has revealed its under-fire chairman and chief executive are leaving their roles while pledging to “fix” the safety crisis engulfing the planemaker.

The company said Dave Calhoun, who has been CEO for just over four years, planned to step down by the year’s end as part of a management shake-up.

It will also see Stan Hope, the head of its commercial airlines division, retire – and chairman Larry Kellner stand down from the board.

The changes were revealed as Boeing customers, including Ryanair, pile pressure on the company over the fallout from its latest safety issue, which has resulted in further delays to plane orders.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said he would play a role in the appointment of his successor

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Airlines have endured years of disruption related to 737 MAX aircraft variants.

The MAX 8 fleet was grounded globally for almost two years after two fatal crashes that left 346 people dead – accidents that were blamed on faulty flight control software.

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What’s going on at Boeing?

The return to the skies in 2021 was knocked by the collapse in demand for international travel due to the COVID pandemic.

But Boeing’s safety record came under close scrutiny again in January this year when a panel blowout occurred on a 737 MAX 9 plane while at 16,000 feet, forcing an emergency landing.

Read more:
Ryanair boss declares passengers are safe despite Boeing issues
Boeing axes 737 MAX chief after mid-air scare
US regulator increases oversight of Boeing

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US aviation regulators have since placed strict production limits on Boeing as part of efforts to ensure confidence in its manufacturing quality.

“For years, we prioritised the movement of the airplane through the factory over getting it done right, and that’s got to change,” chief financial officer Brian West said last week.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, who had previously been critical of quality control at Boeing, said in reaction to the company’s statement: “We welcome these much-needed management changes in Seattle.

“We look forward to working with Stephanie Pope to accelerate B737 aircraft deliveries to customers, including Ryanair in Europe, for summer and autumn 2024.

“We also look forward to continuing to work with Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and CFO Brian West, and to helping Boeing recover its aircraft deliveries so that Ryanair can continue to grow strongly as Boeing’s No.1 customer here in Europe.”

Long-suffering Boeing investors also welcomed the announcements, with shares rising 4%.

Mr Calhoun told Sky’s US partner CNBC it was “100% my decision to go”, insisting he had not been pushed.

“Why now? I’ve entered my fifth year. The end of this year, I’ll be close to 68 years old.

“I’ve always said to the board and the board has been very prepared, I would give them plenty of notice so that they could understand and play in succession in, in regular order. And that’s what this is about. It’s me giving them notice that at the end of this year, I plan to retire. And then and then them taking the actions that they’ve taken.”

He added that he would play a role in the appointment of his successor.

In an email to Boeing staff, he said: “As we begin this period of transition, I want to assure you, we will remain squarely focused on completing the work we have done together to return our company to stability after the extraordinary challenges of the past five years, with safety and quality at the forefront of everything that we do.”


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