Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg was ousted Monday in the turmoil that grounded the company’s 737 Max jetliner and will be replaced by board chairman David Calhoun, the company said.
“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 statement.
Boeing has been mired in crisis since two of its 737 Max planes ― its most popular product ― crashed within five months of one another, killing 346 people. Air safety regulators worldwide grounded the jets in March, crippling airline flight schedules and sending Boeing into a slowdown that climaxed with its decision this month to suspend production.
Muilenberg said in October at a Senate hearing investigating the company’s cozy relationship with regulators that he was sorry for families of those who died in the crashes. Senators, however, continued to hammer the CEO for Boeing’s handling of the disasters.
“I would walk before I was to get on the 737 Max,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said. “I would walk. There’s no way.”
Boeing reported zero new plane orders following the grounding in April and May, fueling deep concerns among stakeholders.
“Safely returning the 737 MAX to service is our top priority,” the company said in a statement when it suspended 737 Max production. “We believe this decision is least disruptive to maintaining long-term production system and supply chain health.”
There’s no indication when the jetliner may be cleared by regulators to fly again.
The company’s problems are so profound that President Donald Trump reportedly phoned Muilenberg last week ask about the crisis.
Trump has in the past criticizing Boeing’s costs, but also has used its facilities as a backdrop to brag about his massive corporate tax cuts.