Boeing has announced that President and CEO Dave Calhoun will stand down at the end of 2024, in a seismic shakeup of the company board.

The decision was confirmed by Boeing on March 25, 2024, and comes at a time when Boeing is under increasing pressure over safety following the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 door plug blowout on January 5, 2024.

The company said that Calhoun will lead Boeing “through the year to complete the critical work underway to stabilize and position the company for the future.”

Dave Calhoun

Stan Deal, the Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO, often the face of the company following the Alaska Airlines incident, has also announced that he will retire and will be replaced by the current Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Pope.

“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve Boeing,” Calhoun wrote in a letter to employees. “The eyes of the world are on us, and I know that we will come through this moment a better company. We will remain squarely focused on completing the work we have done together to return our company to stability after the extraordinary challenges of the past five years, with safety and quality at the forefront of everything that we do.”

In addition, Chair Larry Kellner has informed the board that he does not intend to stand for re-election at the upcoming Annual Shareholder meeting.

Steve Mollenkopf was elected by the board to succeed Kellner as independent board chair and will lead the search for a new CEO.

‘I think it really shows how the mindset has been on production’

Pressure has been mounting at Boeing after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began investigating safety processes at Boeing and the US Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into the Alaska Airlines incident.

In an interview on ‘NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt’ on March 19, 2024, the FAA head said that Boeing’s “mindset” around production needs to “shift.”

FAA chief Michael Whitaker spoke of a recent visit to Boeing’s facilities in which he saw for himself that the company’s focus appears to be on production rather than safety and quality.

“There are issues around the safety culture in Boeing,” Whitaker told the NBC show. “Their priorities have been focused on production and not on safety and quality. And so, what we are really focused on now is shifting that focus from production to safety and quality.”

NTSB plug door Alaska Airlines

When Whitaker was asked during the interview specifically what he saw at the Boeing facilities that concerned him, his response was stinging of the planemaker.

“Well, really looking for that indicator of a safety culture,” Whitaker explained. “So before going out on the floor of a manufacturing floor, you would expect a thorough safety briefing. That wasn’t part of the process. And then reviewing the floor, expected a lot of conversation around quality assurance and safety and again, that wasn’t there. It was all about production. And there’s nothing wrong with production, but it has to follow safety.”

“I think it really shows how the mindset has been on production, and I think you would have expected at least more of a show of focus on safety and that was lacking,” Whitaker concluded.

Dave Calhoun’s letter to Boeing staff

Announcing his departure to Boeing staff, Calhoun sent a long letter explaining the decision in which he described the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 accident as a “watershed” moment for the company.

“I want to thank each and every one of you for how you have stepped up to this challenge and for the work now underway to make sure we demonstrate to all stakeholders that the Boeing of the future is everything they should expect it to be. We have been working together for the last five years to address some of the most significant challenges our company and industry have ever faced in our 108-year history,” Calhoun wrote.

The CEO added: “I am confident that the way we have confronted these challenges, and how we are responding to this specific moment, is establishing standards for future generations of employees and will be woven into the fabric of how we operate for decades to come.”

In the letter Calhoun said that he had been “considering for some time” with board members about the “right time for a CEO transition at Boeing”.

Calhoun also thanked his colleagues that were stepping into new executive roles of leaving the company.

He also praised the Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Pope who will become the Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO.

“Stephanie knows our company inside and out and has a proven track record of superb leadership, including an innate talent for listening and responding to our people. Stephanie is a third-generation Boeing employee. She is deeply committed to our company, to our employees and to our shared future; and she is the perfect person to take on the leadership of our commercial airplanes business at this moment,” Calhoun wrote.

Boeing factory Everett Washington

FAA chief says factory visit shows Boeing’s focus on production over safety

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