Boeing’s board of directors on Friday removed its top executive from the chairmanship position in the wake of the 737 MAX safety crisis, the company announced Friday evening, Defense News reported.
Dennis Muilenburg will continue to lead the company as chief executive officer, president and a director. David Calhoun, currently the independent lead director, was elected by the board to serve as its non-executive chairman.
The board made the decision to separate the CEO and chairman positions in order to allow Muilenburg to focus on day-to-day operations, particularly the task of returning the 737 MAX airliner to commercial service, according to a Boeing statement.
The 737 MAX has been grounded since mid-March due to two crashes — one in Oct 2018 and another in March 2019 — that resulted in the deaths of 346 people.
According to Travel Pulse, it is strongly suspected that Muilenburg was moved because of a report released on Friday by the Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) panel that concluded the plane’s flight control system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was at fault for the crashes but was not evaluated properly.
In short, the design was flawed as was the approval process, with the bulk of the blame going to Boeing since the MCAS “was not evaluated as a complete and integrated function in the certification documents that (Boeing) submitted to the FAA.”
The review did not find any evidence of a deliberate effort by Boeing to mislead regulators; instead, it was poor communication.
“The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role,” Calhoun said.
“The board also plans in the near term to name a new director with deep safety experience and expertise to serve on the board and its newly established Aerospace Safety Committee.”
Through the Boeing statement, Muilenburg said that he supported the board’s decision and was focused on returning the 737 MAX to service.
Meanwhile, United Airlines announced it is extending cancellations of Boeing 737 MAX flights until January 6, 2020, ensuring that the troubled aircraft won’t resume operating passenger flights in the until next year at the earliest.
“We have cooperated fully with the FAA’s independent review of the MAX aircraft, and we won’t put our customers and employees on that plane until regulators make their own independent assessment that it is safe to do so,” the company said in a statement on Friday.