Boeing Fires CEO Following 737 MAX Disasters

Dennis Muilenburg testifies before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee October 30, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Dennis Muilenburg testifies before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee October 30, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Photo: Getty Images

Boeing has fired its CEO, Dennis A. Muilenburg, and will replace him with its current chairman, David L. Calhoun. A new press release from the company claims that Muilenburg had resigned, but that same press release also says that it was the board’s decision. In short: Muilenburg got fired.

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“The Board of Directors decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the Company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders,” the press release reads.

Muilenbrg’s departure comes after a tumultuous 18 months for the company, following two deadly crashes of its new Boeing 737 MAX plane. The two crashes were just five months apart and all MAX planes around the world were subsequently grounded.

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Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on March 10, 2019, and killed all 157 people on board. Lion Air Flight 610 crashed shortly after takeoff just off the coast of Indonesia on October 29, 2018, killing all 189 people on board. Both flights were the new Boeing 737 MAX-8.

The plane’s central problem is the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which lowers the nose of the plane when it detects that the airplane might be pointing upward and stall. And as the Wall Street Journal reports, the FAA knew about problems with the plane and allowed it to fly anyway. Production of the plane was officially suspended last week.

Boeing CFO Greg Smith will serve as interim CEO until Calhoun “exits his non-Boeing commitments,” according to the company.

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“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I am pleased that Dave has agreed to lead Boeing at this critical juncture,” Lawrence W. Kellner, Chairman of the Boeing Board, said in a press release. “Dave has deep industry experience and a proven track record of strong leadership, and he recognizes the challenges we must confront. The Board and I look forward to working with him and the rest of the Boeing team to ensure that today marks a new way forward for our company.”

“I strongly believe in the future of Boeing and the 737 MAX,” incoming CEO Calhoun said. “I am honored to lead this great company and the 150,000 dedicated employees who are working hard to create the future of aviation.”

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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

Let’s see how much ‘golden parachute’ money he walks away with. CEOs like that getting fired isn’t like the rest of us getting fired. There’ll also undoubtedly be other companies ready to snap him up, because rich white dudes fail up.