Today, Boeing announced Dennis A. Muilenburg has resigned from his position as company CEO and board director effective immediately. In a nod to the fact that he was essentially fired, the company said that the company board “decided that a change in leadership was necessary.”
His replacement is current chairman, David L. Calhoun, who will start his new position on Jan. 13, 2020.
This news follows Boeing’s announcement last week of its decision to indefinitely suspend all production of the 737 MAX airplane.
A company press release regarding the matter states:
The Board of Directors decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the Company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders.
Under the Company’s new leadership, Boeing will operate with a renewed commitment to full transparency, including effective and proactive communication with the FAA, other global regulators and its customers.
“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. He added, “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.”
Mr. Calhoun said, “I strongly believe in the future of Boeing and the 737 MAX. I am honored to lead this great company and the 150,000 dedicated employees who are working hard to create the future of aviation.”
Muilenburg was director of the Boeing board since 2015, according to a company profile. The essential firing comes as a result of the disastrous 737 MAX situation, where a software issue resulted in two widely publicized crashes which 346 people died in 2018 and earlier this year.
Aviation authorities worldwide grounded the planes after the issue was discovered. The Federal Aviation Administration followed suit soon after. It was the biggest crisis the company had ever faced.
For months, Boeing’s inability to make the plane safe has prevented approval from aviation authorities, keeping it from being returned to service. Delays are still expected, the New York Times reported last month:
While Boeing has said publicly that it expects the Federal Aviation Administration to begin the process of ungrounding the plane this year, that now appears unlikely, according to a government official familiar with the process. Instead, it is increasingly likely that the grounding will continue into 2020, given the series of tests Boeing must complete before the regulator clears the plane to fly.
Muilenburg’s dismissal, however, comes in the wake of the delays and his inability to get the planes repaired on time. It’s worth pointing out he wasn’t fired immediately after the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.
The writing was on the wall over the weekend, though, according to the New York Times:
Last week, Boeing said it would temporarily shut down the 737 Max factory. Mr. Muilenburg’s relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration was badly damaged after he was seen to pressure the agency to return the planes to service. And on Friday, a Boeing space capsule designed for NASA failed to reach the correct orbit, a crushing blow to company morale.
The Starliner spacecraft was unmanned, but designed to carry people.
It’s unclear what Muilenburg’s golden parachute will be, if there will be one at all.