Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun Says He Will Step Down Amid Safety Fears

David Ryder/Reuters
David Ryder/Reuters

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun will leave the company along with two other top executives, the business announced Monday, amid intense scrutiny on the aircraft manufacturer following a series of high-profile safety problems.

The head of Boeing’s commercial aircraft business, Stanley Deal, is retiring immediately, while the company’s chairman, Larry Kellner, won’t seek re-election at an upcoming annual shareholder meeting.

“President and CEO Dave Calhoun today announced his decision to step down as CEO at the end of 2024, and he will continue to lead Boeing through the year to complete the critical work underway to stabilize and position the company for the future,” Boeing said in a statement.

Calhoun, who became CEO in 2020 in the wake of catastrophic 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019, used a letter to employees to say the business would “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.”

He began the message by addressing the crisis the company has faced since a door panel blew out of a 737 MAX plane during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, describing the terrifying incident as a “watershed moment for Boeing.”

Boeing Executives Can’t Keep Getting Away With This

“We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency,” Calhoun wrote. “We also must inculcate a total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company. The eyes of the world are on us, and I know we will come through this moment a better company, building on all the learnings we accumulated as we worked together to rebuild Boeing over the last number of years.”

“We have been working together for the last five years to address some of the most significant challenges our company and industry have ever faced in our 108-year history,” Calhoun told workers. “I am confident that the way we have confronted these challenges, and how we are responding to this specific moment, is establishing standards for future generations of employees and will be woven into the fabric of how we operate for decades to come.”

Boeing’s share price plunged more than a quarter this year amid the recent safety issues, according to The Wall Street Journal. Rising anxieties about the company’s manufacturing processes has even reportedly led some passengers to rebook flights in an effort to avoid traveling on Boeing planes.

The Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 incident involving a Max 9 plane prompted a six-week audit from the Federal Aviation Administration which found a slew of issues with Boeing’s production methods. The FBI has also contacted passengers on board the flight to tell them that they may be victims of a crime, and that the case is currently being investigated.

The latest crisis comes after Max 8 plane crashes killed a total of 346 people. Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff in Indonesia in October 2018, while Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in central Ethiopia less than five months later. The incidents led to the grounding of 737 Max aircraft around the world in 2019 and 2020, with Boeing admitting that its Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) had played a role in both disasters.

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