Boeing Announces Major Leadership Changes

Boeing has announced several leadership changes, with various CEOs to depart in 2024 due to mounting pressure on the manufacturer.

Boeing has announced several fundamental leadership changes as it attempts to reshape its future and respond to ongoing criticism.

The changes unveiled on March 25, 2024, announced that Dave Calhoun, the current CEO of Boeing, will step down as of the end of 2024. Before stepping down for the remainder of 2024, Calhoun will lead the manufacturer through arguably its most important year in company history.

Meanwhile, long-standing Boeing Commerical Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal will retire effective immediately, with Stephanie Pope appointed in his place.

Additionally, Independent board chair Larry Kellner has announced his decision to no longer stand for re-election at the upcoming annual meeting, with Steve Mollenkopf appointed as the new chair in a shakeup to the executive level at the manufacturer.

Calhoun called the opportunity to serve Boeing “the greater privilege of my life.” Still, with the world focusing intently on the manufacturer, Calhoun’s departure is an essential move for the future.

Dave Calhoun (Photo: Boeing)

Problems At Boeing

Boeing has long been in the headlines for the wrong reasons, spurred by a double incident involving brand new 737 MAX jets in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

These incidents at the time had much uncertainty around them, with many questioning how new aircraft could easily fall out of the sky. However, the following revelations highlighted poor business practices conducted at Boeing that saw a focus on safety slips and a culture shift that meant profits became the sole focus.

737 MAX jets were grounded for years, and Boeing was forced to change the popular series to return to the skies safely. In addition, the manufacturer needed to rebuild its relationship with the flying public, customers, suppliers, and all other relevant parties.

Since 2019, there have been several hiccups in this rebuild process, with new problems being identified, a global pandemic to deal with and several other external factors. However, mainly looking in from the outside, Boeing was putting forward an image that it was recovering.

2024 was earmarked as another critical year for the planemaker to continue improving, rebuilding and closing the gap with Airbus, who, thanks to Boeing’s faults, were able to pull away in several sectors. However, in the first week of January, any plan to continue its turnaround would collapse, with the planemaker undoing everything it had said it had done across a multi-year period.

The January 2024 Incident

In the first week of January, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX would experience a door blowout shortly after departure. The aircraft would safely return to Portland without severe injuries to anyone aboard.

While immediately after the incident, concerns were present on how a door could so easily blow out, there were no immediate pressing concerns about the integrity of the planemaker and the aircraft, for this could happen to any plane.

Alaska Airlines has announced the grounding of all Boeing 737-9s following a major incident occurred on one of its aircraft mid flight.
Photo credit: Rick Webb

As a precautionary measure, the 737-9 was grounded, and airlines began to conduct preliminary inspections to determine what had gone wrong and whether this was a widespread problem. During these preliminary inspections, loose bolts were found on many of the same aircraft types at other airlines.

This problem only increased when it became apparent that the door that blew out had been improperly reattached. Once more, Boeing and its suppliers were under pressure for allowing such a thing to happen.

Subsequent investigations into Boeing, formal audits, and much more were launched, with the situation quickly spiralling out of control and the manufacturer placed back in despair.

The FAA went as far as barring any production increases and key airline customers exploring alternatives away from Boeing as they battled with new delays.

A Board Under Pressure

It quickly became apparent that 2024 was a year to forget for Boeing, so the focus dramatically shifted to the board, which had failed over several years to follow through with its promises.

With whistleblowers, employees, and others speaking out at upper management, it was hard to imagine a scenario in which Boeing would seek to retain executives who were increasingly under pressure.

Many welcome the announcement that several executives are departing; however, it doesn’t undo years of failures, poor decisions, and other issues.

However, the only way to move forward is not to look back, and board changes are viewed as a means to instil a new culture that will once and for all put Boeing back where it needs to be, not just for itself as a company but for the broader aviation industry.

As Airbus states, Boeing’s problems impact all aspects of the industry, and while a better Boeing will increase competition, it will also lead to a better aviation landscape.

Daniel Fowkes
29 Mar 2024
· Aircraft 

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