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Richland Student Media

Richland Student Media

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Richland Chronicle 5/07/24
Richland Chronicle 5/07/24

Boeing crashes and burns… again

CEO stepping down at end of year, raising questions about the company’s future
Boeing+mechanics+work+in+the+cabin+while+building+a+plane.
(Photo/Boeing.com)
Boeing mechanics work in the cabin while building a plane.

After ongoing safety concerns and production delays, Boeing finds itself in the middle of a significant leadership shake-up. It is raising questions about the future of the aircraft manufacturer.

CEO David Calhoun’s decision to step down by the year’s end comes along with growing pressure following a series of safety incidents, including a panel blowing off a Boeing 737 Max jetliner during a January flight.

Calhoun’s departure is part of a broader restructuring effort aimed at navigating through future complications. “The decision to leave was mine,” Calhoun said at a press conference emphasizing the need for a transition in leadership.

Meanwhile, Stan Deal, head of Boeing’s commercial airplanes unit, has already been replaced by Stephanie Pope, a seasoned insider who assumed the role of chief operating officer at the onset of the new year.

The leadership shuffle extends to the board level, with Chairman Lawrence Kellner opting not to stand for reelection in May.

Former Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf has been tapped to lead the search for Calhoun’s successor.

The aircraft manufacturer has been under intense examination since a door-plug panel detached from a brand-new Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 jet in mid-flight earlier this year. Investigations revealed missing bolts following repair work at Boeing’s factory, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to give failing grades to Boeing’s 737 factory near Seattle on nearly three dozen production aspects according to Associated Press.

In response to these challenges, Calhoun highlighted the necessity for a “total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company.” Boeing’s efforts to enhance quality include discussions about bringing Spirit AeroSystems, a key supplier, back into the company to exert more control over manufacturing processes.

However, the road ahead remains filled with obstacles. Delays in receiving new planes have driven United Airlines to request pilots to take time off in May, which showcases the ripple effects of Boeing’s production afflictions. Almost all of the shortfall in United’s orders consists of Boeing 737 Max planes, including the yet-to-be-certified Max 10 model.

The FAA has imposed restrictions on Boeing’s 737 Max production, leading to more financial difficulties for the company. Boeing’s stock has plummeted by over 40% since Calhoun took over, with recent financial projections indicating a larger-than-expected cash burn in the first quarter of the year.

While some view the leadership shake-up as a step in the right direction, critics argue that Boeing must prioritize safety over production quotas.

Calls for cultural reform within Boeing have gained traction, with former Boeing manager Ed Pierson stressing the importance of valuing and supporting employees in the pursuit of excellence.

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