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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Boeing CEO plans to step down after recent quality, safety concerns

Boeing CEO David Calhoun and the Boeing emblem on the side of a plane
ABC News & Reuters
Boeing CEO David Calhoun and the Boeing emblem on the side of a plane

April 5, 2024/ Midnight


Erie Pa.— The Boeing CEO David Calhoun has announced that he will be stepping down as president of the company at the end of the year. This news comes after numerous safety and quality concerns raised by employees and the public in recent months.

In a message to employees sent out by Calhoun, he explains that he had been considering this change for a while and that he and the board believed that now would be the best time for him to make the announcement. Within the message, Calhoun also announced that a number of other leaders within the company would be stepping down as well.

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Calhoun started his time at Boeing back in 2009, serving as a member of Boeing’s Board of Directors and eventually board chair for three months at the end of 2019. The board appointed Calhoun president and chief executive officer in January 2020, after the previous CEO Dennis Muilenberg was fired in late 2019 for mishandling the company’s response to two fatal Boeing plane crashes within a span of two years, according to the Seattle Times.

In 2018, a Lion Air Flight on a Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed into the ocean, killing all 189 people on board just 13 minutes after takeoff. Then in 2019, on the same Boeing model plane, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed close to the town of Bishoftu, Ethiopia just six minutes after takeoff, claiming the lives of all 157 people on board.

It is believed that issues within the Boeing upper head is most likely to blame for the number of concerning mishaps that occurred since the beginning of the year with the Boeing aircraft.

In January, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had to block dozens of flights from taking off after the door plug broke away from a 737 Max 9 (newer version than the used in the 2018 and 2019 crashes) in the air during an Alaskan Airlines flight, due to installation issues. The flight made an emergency landing in Portland, with all 174 passengers and six crew members onboard making it home safe, with only a few minor injuries endured. Similarly, to the crashes in 2018 and 2019, a class action lawsuit was filed against Boeing by the passengers.

The FAA issued a six-week audit of all 737 Max planes, which included an intricate examination of the manufacturing process. According to The New York Times, the FAA conducted 89 product audits, with Boeing only passing 59 of them, while failing the remaining 33. The FAA also conducted 13 audits on Spirit AeroSystems, the company which makes the body or fuselage of the Boeing Max planes, only 6 of which ended up passing.

A whistleblowing lawsuit against Boeing has uncovered some of the unfortunate truths about just how concerning the substandard conditions on the assembly line were. John Barnett, a former Boeing employee who worked for the aerospace company for 30 years prior to retiring in 2017 had spoken out numerous times after his retirement, exposing the company for being negligent with their safety standards. For example, in an interview with BBC in 2019, Barnett explained that there had been a few problems with oxygen systems, which meant one in four breathing masks would be dysfunctional in an emergency.

Barnett was found dead in his Charleston, South Carolina home earlier this month from an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Even after the FAA cleared all Boeing flights except for closer inspections prior to take-off by airlines who use the 737 Max 9, many flyers were still apprehensive to board these planes. “I just can’t step on that plane,” said Leila Amineddoleh, an art lawyer who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey told NBC news. “Even if the chance of getting hurt on a Boeing flight, even with all these incidents, is slim.”

Amineddoleh continued later telling NBC news, that although the possibility of another crash is low, that will not be enough to convince flyers to trust Boeing planes. “I really do hope that things change at Boeing, in part because it really makes my life easier,” She finished off saying, “When I fly to Europe, I always take direct flights. It’s the first time in years that I haven’t.”

Some travelers took it upon themselves to avoid airlines that flew the 737 Max 9 altogether. This includes the two U.S. airlines, United and Alaska, and several other international carriers including, Panama’s Copa Airlines, Aeromexico, Turkish Airlines, Icelandair, Flydubai and SCAT Airlines in Kazakhstan, according to NPR.

Boeing has not announced who will be taking over for Calhoun after his resignation at the end of the year. For now, the aerospace company seems to be focused on clearing up any issues related to the quality and engineering of their aircraft to avoid any more major incidents in the future.

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