Boeing removes CEO from chairman role, names replacement

Oct 12, 2019

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Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has been removed from his role as chairman of the company after Boeing’s board of directors voted to separate the roles of CEO and chairman, the latest step in the ongoing saga of the 737 MAX that’s seen the plane grounded after two fatal crashes that claimed the lives of 346 passengers and crew.

Muilenburg will remain on Boeing’s board of directors, while lead director David Calhoun will assume the role of nonexecutive chairman. Calhoun emphasized that this decision does not reflect a loss of confidence in Muilenburg’s ability to run the company, saying in a statement that, “The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role.” In the same release, Muilenburg supported the board’s decision and said that the “entire team is laser-focused on returning the 737 MAX safely to service.”

Both MAX crashes were tied to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a piece of software designed to automatically stabilize the pitch of the airplane in the event of a stall. Boeing is now the subject of multiple federal inquiries and even civil suits from the family of victims into the process by which MCAS was designed and tested.

Last month, Boeing announced the creation of a new product safety division within the company, and has announced plans to add a board member with safety experience in the near future.

Boeing has lost billions of dollars in canceled or delayed orders in the six months that the 737 MAX has been grounded, adding extra pressure as the company tries to convince regulators and passengers worldwide that its software updates are sufficient to get the plane safely flying again. The three biggest North American operators of the MAX, United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have all extended their flight cancellations into 2020.

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