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Boeing CEO Stepping Down

Major corporate shakeup at crony capitalist aerospace firm …

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The chief executive of embattled crony capitalist aerospace giant Boeing will resign at the end of the year, according to a news release from the company. 

Dave Calhoun, 66, of Philadelphia, will step down effective December 31, 2024, but “will continue to lead Boeing through the year to complete the critical work underway to stabilize and position the company for the future.”

Calhoun took the reins of the company in January 2020 after its former CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, was fired following the global grounding of the company’s 737 Max passenger jet in the wake of two fatal crashes.

Ongoing issues with the plane – exposed by the apparent suicide of corporate whistleblower John Barnett – appear to be the impetus for Calhoun’s ouster. Barnett was discovered dead outside of his Charleston, South Carolina hotel two weeks ago after failing to appear for the final day of an extended deposition related to a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit.

Barnett was exposing manufacturing defects and cultural issues at Boeing following the mid-air blowout of a door panel on a 737 Max jet operated by Alaska Airlines on January 5, 2024.

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RELATED | THE WHISTLEBLOWER AND THE CORPORATION

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“The eyes of the world are on us, and I know that we will come through this moment a better company,” Calhoun wrote in a letter to employees. “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.”

Safety and quality have clearly not been at the forefront of everything Boeing has done in recent years, though, as evidenced by the ongoing issues with the 737 Max – and persistent reports of shoddy workmanship on its 787 Dreamliner.

The 737 Max was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on March 13, 2019 after two crashes left a combined 346 people dead. In both instances, problems with the planes’ automated flight-control systems were singled out as being to blame. The automated flight-control system was intended to prevent the aircraft from stalling, but faulty sensor data reportedly forced pilots to struggle against its unintended activation. The 737 Max returned to flight on December 29, 2020, but has continued to be dogged by problems.

“Once you understand what’s happening inside of Boeing, you’ll see why we’re seeing these kinds of issues,” he told Nadia Daly of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “This is a Boeing issue, this is not a 737 issue.”

“Their culture is all about speed and production,” Barnett added. “Any issues, any concerns that you bring up are going to slow them down.”

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As for the Dreamliner – which is manufactured in North Charleston, S.C. – Barnett has been consistently calling out serious safety issues with the plane.

“I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I would consider safe and airworthy,” Barnett told Daly in January 2020.

In his letter to employees, Calhoun called the recent Alaska air incident “a watershed moment for Boeing.”

“We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency,” he wrote. “We also must inculcate a total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company.”

Complete transparency?

That’s also been a serious problem for Boeing. Earlier this month it was revealed the company “accidentally” overwrote security footage of factory work done on the Alaska Airlines jet. Meanwhile, Boeing claimed the crew manager who oversaw the work on the plane would “not be able to provide a statement” to the National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) – or give its investigators an interview – owing to his “medical issues.”

On the day of Barnett’s death, The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a criminal investigation into the company in the aftermath of the incident – seeking to determine whether Boeing violated the terms of its January 2021 settlement with the agency following the two fatal crashes. Two days after Barnett’s death, The New York Times reported Boeing had failed 33 of 89 performance audits tied to the 737 Max’s manufacturing process.

In addition to Calhoun’s departure, Boeing board chairman Larry Kellner announced he would not seek reelection to his post. He is being replaced by former Qualcomm chief executive officer Steve Mollenkopf – who will “lead the board’s process of selecting Boeing’s next CEO,” according to the release.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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2 comments

Capitalism Rewards Failure March 26, 2024 at 8:05 am

How much is it costing Boeing for their early retirement?

Man I sure wish I could royally screw up and make bank doing it. Guess if it worked that way for all the people who actually work for a living, nothing would exist, huh? But God forbid a worker need food stamps, or they’re a leech. This CEO though, captain of industry. Just works harder and smarter than the rest of us!

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JustCallMeAva Top fan March 26, 2024 at 12:59 pm

I could point out that Trump rolled back industry safeguards and basically allowed the airline industry to inspect themselves. I think we are seeing the end result of that right now with Boeing, plus Boeing decided that it was more important to keep their shareholders happy and began cutting corners. Who cares about safety? It’s only a mass transportation vehicle they produce–what could possibly go wrong? This is the typical CEO mentality these days–let’s cut costs to the freaking core while raising our income levels to ensure we can afford that 2nd or 3rd yacht. Most of the Corporate suite types have no actual experience doing the work or even a remote understanding of their own companies. All they know is cut, cut, cut and reward the shareholders and themselves. Deregulation is also an issue and thanks to Trump’s sham of a presidency, airlines aren’t the only industry making gambles with people’s lives now they no longer have to put up with trifle concerns like inspections/safety.

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