Boeing CEO stepping down after series of accidents

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Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun will step down from his role at the end of this year as the plane manufacturing company faces increased scrutiny following a series of high-profile accidents, the company announced Monday.

Calhoun, in a letter to employees Monday, announced his plans to step down and revealed he had been “considering for some time” the appropriate point for a CEO transition at the company.

The letter opened with a nod to the Alaska Airlines midair blowout in January, when a fuselage panel on a Boeing 737 Max 9 blew off and left a gaping hole while the aircraft was 16,000 feet above Oregon. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing, and though no serious injuries were reported, the incident prompted a series of investigations into Boeing’s production and safety compliance measures.

“As you all know, the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 accident was a watershed moment for Boeing. We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency. We also must inculcate a total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company,” Calhoun wrote in his letter. “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.”

Calhoun, 66, told employees he initially agreed to the role of CEO at the request of Boeing’s board and said it has been the “greatest privilege of his life.” He began serving in the role in 2020.

A series of other staff and board changes will also take place at the company, including the immediate departure of Stan Deal, the president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He was replaced Monday by Stephanie Pope, who recently became Boeing’s chief operating officer and has nearly 30 years of experience at the company, Calhoun said.

Board Chair Larry Kellner will step down from his post later this year and will not stand for reelection at Boeing’s annual meeting in May, Boeing added. Steve Mollenkopf, who has served on the board of directors since 2020, will succeed Kellner as chair and will lead the board process in selecting Boeing’s next CEO.

Boeing is facing multiple probes into its production and manufacturing process in the wake of the January blowout.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — which is investigating both the blowout and the changes made after two fatal Boeing crashes in 2018 and 2019 — called the company’s safety culture “inadequate and confusing” in a report last month. The crashes in 2018 and 2019 involved Boeing 737 Max jetliners and killed 346 people.

The Justice Department also launched a criminal investigation into Boeing earlier this month after the company admitted it could not find records sought by the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the work performed on the blown-off panel.

Three lawsuits were filed earlier this year over the blowout, including two separate cases involving a group of passengers and a third from shareholders over “serious safety lapses.”

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