Boeing’s New CEO to Focus on 737 MAX Return to Service

Dennis Muilenburg has resigned from his post as CEO of Boeing. Photo: Boeing

Boeing will have a new CEO starting Jan. 13, 2020, as the airplane maker announced current Chairman David L. Calhoun will take over for Dennis Muilenburg who has resigned.

The leadership change comes as the Boeing 737 MAX fleet’s grounding has reached nine months after separate Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air flights crashed and killed a combined 346 passengers and crew onboard. Calhoun will remain a member of Boeing’s board of directors, while Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith will serve as interim CEO during the transition period.

“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,” Boeing said in a press release announcing the change.

Calhoun taking over for Muilenburg is the latest update in Boeing’s efforts to return the grounded global fleet of 737 MAX aircraft back to service. On Dec. 16, Boeing announced its decision to temporarily suspend 737 MAX production to prioritize the delivery of 400 newly manufactured aircraft in storage and allow time for civil aviation authorities to approve updates and clear its return to service.

“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,” Calhoun said in Boeing’s press release announcing the leadership change.

Muilenburg had previously been targeting a fourth quarter 2019 return to service for the MAX, during an October speech at the Economic Club of New York. However, as FAA Chairman Stephen Dickson indicated during testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure earlier this month, there are still several hurdles Boeing must clear before returning the grounded aircraft to commercial passenger carrying service.

According to Dixon, the aircraft’s return to service relies upon a certification flight test and review by the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB), which is comprised of the FAA Flight Standardization Board (FSB) and its partners from Canada, Europe, and Brazil.

“The JOEB will evaluate pilot training needs. The FSB will issue a report addressing the findings of the JOEB and the report will be made available for public review and comment. Additionally, the FAA will review all final design documentation, which also will be reviewed by the multi-agency Technical Advisory Board (TAB). The FAA will issue a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community providing notice of pending significant safety actions and will publish an Airworthiness Directive advising operators of required corrective actions,” Dixon said during his testimony.

The FAA leader also wants to fly the 737 MAX himself with the updated flight control software before signing off on anything.


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