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Turbulence at Boeing: CEO Exits as Crises Mount Over Quality Lapses

By Jake Beardslee · March 25, 2024

In a major leadership shakeup, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun announced on Monday that he plans to leave the aircraft manufacturer by the end of 2024, according to CNN. The chairman and head of the commercial airplane unit are also departing.  NTSBgov/Narendra Modi/Wikimedia

The executive exodus comes as Boeing faces intensifying scrutiny and criticism over a string of concerning safety incidents and quality control lapses.  National Transportation Safety Board/Wikimedia

Most recently, the jarring event of a door detaching from a 737 Max midflight prompted harsh rebukes from airline CEOs and regulatory probes.  NTSBgov/Wikimedia

In a letter to employees, Calhoun called the Alaska Airlines fuselage rupture in January "a watershed moment for Boeing." He acknowledged, "The eyes of the world are on us. We are going to fix what isn't working, and we are going to get our company back on the track towards recovery and stability."  NTSBgov/Wikimedia

Calhoun attributed the decision to step aside as "100%" his own choice in a CNBC interview. However, the CEO has increasingly been a target of those criticizing Boeing's leadership. As aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia quipped, "He's the very best CEO that Airbus has ever had."  NTSBgov/Wikimedia

Airline executives had recently requested a rare direct audience with Boeing's board to voice their views over ongoing quality issues and delivery delays.  Boeing, Richard Burch Eiber/Wikimedia

Michael O'Leary of Ryanair condemned "a lack of attention to detail quality issues in Boeing," stating they routinely find problems like "tools under floorboards and missing seat handles" upon deliveries.  World Travel & Tourism Council/Wikimedia

Calhoun told investors after the Alaska scare, "we caused the problem, and we understand that. Whatever conclusions are reached, Boeing is accountable for what happened," according to CNN.  Narendra Modi/Unsplash

The company faces an FAA audit, NTSB inquiry, and potential criminal liability over the Alaska incident, which could jeopardize a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement stemming from the 737 Max crisis.  Original: United States Federal Aviation AdministrationVectorization: Fry1989/Wikimedia

Quality lapses have also halted 787 Dreamliner deliveries under Calhoun's tenure.  AndrĂ© Du-pont (Mexico Air Spotters)/Wikimedia

Calhoun, who has a finance rather than engineering background, plans to stay through year's end to help navigate "another mountain to climb" in addressing the latest problems and necessary changes.  mr_t_77/Wikimedia

On his successor, he stated, "I want somebody who clearly has the experience inside our industry."  Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Scalable Grid Engine/Wikimedia

The shakeup news sent Boeing's battered stock price surging 4% in premarket trading Monday.  Nicholas Cappello/Unsplash