Boeing chief Dave Calhoun to step down amid safety scrutiny

Boeing president and chief executive Dave Calhoun will step down at the end of the year as the company continues to address safety and quality standards.

Board chair Larry Kellner has also announced that he will not stand for re-election, with Steve Mollenkopf to succeed him, while Stan Deal has retired immediately as president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). BCA will now be led by Stephanie Pope, formerly Boeing’s chief operating officer.

Calhoun (pictured), who was appointed chief executive in 2020, said he had been considering his departure “for some time”.

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He described the Alaska Airlines incident in January, in which a panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9, as a “watershed moment for Boeing”.

He said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

Boeing is facing a criminal investigation into January’s incident, as well as legal action from passengers who were on board, while the Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating.

No one was injured in the event, which happened shortly after take-off from Portland, Oregon.

Calhoun took on the role of chief executive after Dennis Muilenburg was fired following two crashes within the space of five months that killed 346 people. Calhoun had previously been chair of the board.

In a letter to employees, Calhoun wrote that he had been invited to become chief executive because of the “unprecedented circumstances” the company was facing at the time.

Reflecting on his roles as chief executive and chair, he wrote: “It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve in both roles and I will only feel the journey has been properly completed when we finish the job that we need to do.

“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.”

Kellner, who had served on Boeing’s board for 13 years and been chair since 2019, said it had been a “true honour” serving the company.

Mollenkopf, who will lead the process of selecting the next chief executive, has served on the board since 2020.

He said: “I am fully confident in this company and its leadership – and together we are committed to taking the right actions to strengthen safety and quality, and to meet the needs of our customers.”

Pope, who has already been installed as the new leader of BCA, had been serving as chief operating officer of Boeing since January. Previously, she was president and chief executive of Boeing Global Services, where she was responsible for leading the company’s aerospace services for commercial, government and aviation industry customers worldwide.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary welcomed the changes at Boeing.

He said: “Stan Deal has done a great sales job for Boeing for many years, but he’s not the person to turn around the operation in Seattle and that’s where most of the problems have been in recent years.

“We welcome and look forward to working with Stephanie Pope, together with Dave Calhoun and Brian West [chief financial officer], to eliminate Boeing delivery delays both for summer 2024 and autumn 2024, so hopefully we’ll have no delivery delays for summer 2025.”

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