Heads at Boeing are finally starting to roll.
One week after the company split the role of CEO and Chairman, making it clear that the fate of Dennis Muilenburg will depend on how quickly he succeeds in putting the company’s raging scandal behind it (or not), the first, and most senior casualty of the Boeing 737 MAX scandal just hit: Kevin McAllister, the executive in charge of commercial airplanes, is expected to leave the company.
McAllister was at the center of the company’s efforts to fix the automated system that contributed to the two crashes and return the plane to service.
Stanley A. Deal, the head of global services for Boeing, is expected to replace Mr. McAllister.
Previously, the New York Times reported that he was under scrutiny inside the company for his poor handling of customer relationships and his management of the commercial division, which is Boeing’s largest business.
It is assumed that by throwing McAllister under the bus, this may ease some of the shareholder anger at the company, and its stock, which has tumbled in the past three days after messages became public that suggested a pilot working on the Max had voiced concerns about the automated system in 2016, months before the Federal Aviation Administration certified the plane. That system, known as MCAS, was found to have played a role in the accidents.
Those messages refuted Boeing’s long-held position that it had no indication that the Max was unsafe until the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia last October and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March. Since the Max’s grounding shortly after the second crash, airlines have canceled thousands of flights and lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
The Max’s return to service has been delayed multiple times in recent months as Boeing and global regulators have uncovered new problems with the plane. Airlines do not expect the plane to fly again until next year. Boeing has said that if the delays persist much longer, it may be forced to halt production of the Max, a drastic step that would disrupt Boeing’s enormous manufacturing work force and its vast network of suppliers.
Meanwhile, even if it resolves the 737 MAX issues, Boeing’s problems stretch beyond the Max and include claims of shoddy production at Boeing’s Charleston plant, cracking on the 737 NG, the Max’s predecessor, and the discovery of foreign objects inside the KC-46 tanker, a military aircraft that the group builds.