Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg Fired Following 737 Max Crisis
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has been fired effective immediately, the company’s board of directors announced Monday, as the plane maker continues to battle the fallout from two 737 Max crisis that left its best-selling plane in crisis.
Muilenburg will be replaced by David L. Calhoun, Boeing’s chairman, on January 13, according to the news release.
The aviation giant has this year been gripped by a huge crisis over its handling of two crashes involving the 737 Max plane. The two crashes, in October 2018 and March 2019, killed a total of 346 people. At the time, Muilenburg said the company expected the plane to return to service within six weeks.
“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,” the news release said.
Shares of Boeing rose more than 3% in early trading following the announcement.
The statement did not explicitly mention the 737 Max crisis beyond Calhoun saying he believes in “the future of Boeing and the 737 Max.”
There’s still no set return date for the plane, as in-progress planes sit idle near Boeing’s factories. Airlines continue to push back their estimated dates of service, with United Airlines now estimating a June return.
“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,” the statement said. “Dave has deep industry experience and a proven track record of strong leadership, and he recognises the challenges we must confront.”
The FAA said it does not comment on personnel decision, but that it “continues to follow a thorough process for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service.”
“We expect that Boeing will support that process by focusing on the quality and timeliness of data submittals for FAA review, as well as being transparent in its relationship with the FAA as safety regulator,” the agency said.
In the week before Muilenburg’s departure, Boeing faced big news for two of its other major products. Its CST-100 Starliner spaceship veered wildly off-course during its maiden flight, eventually having to return to earth without docking to the International Space Station.
The company’s KC-46A aerial refuelling tanker for cargo and passenger operation was reinstated for service by the US Air Force after a three-month ban.
Also last week, Moody’s and S&P downgraded Boeing’s debt to A3 and A-, respectively.
“I am honoured to lead this great company and the 150,000 dedicated employees who are working hard to create the future of aviation,” Calhoun said in the statement.
Two major labour unions representing flight attendants at major airlines said that Muilenburg’s resignation was long overdue.
“The Boeing 737 MAX grounding was the result of not only tragedy, but also a loss of public trust. Boeing has engaged earnestly with Flight Attendants over the past year and recognised the critical importance of our trust in the aircraft that is our workplace,” the Association of Flight Attendants said in a joint statement with a Transportation Workers United group that represents flight attendants. “But real change requires humility, transparency, and leadership that demonstrates a willingness to change.”