Boeing CEO to Step Down, President to Retire

The leadership shake-up is the latest for the aircraft manufacturer in the wake of an incident where a door plug dislodged from a Boeing 737 Max 9 midflight.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun will be stepping down at the end of the year, the company announced. [Credit: Shutterstock]

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun will be stepping down at the end of the year, the aircraft manufacturing giant announced Monday.

Calhoun's departure was not the only leadership change, according to the company.

Board chair Larry Kellner will not seek reelection at the upcoming shareholders meeting and will be succeeded by Steve Mollenkopf. Stan Deal, who serves as president and CEO of commercial airplanes, has retired effective immediately, and Stephanie Pope has been named the CEO of the division.

The company said its board has picked former Qualcomm CEO Mollenkopf to replace Kellner as independent board chair and lead the search for Calhoun’s replacement.

Calhoun and Boeing have been under intense scrutiny since Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 lost a door plug shortly after takeoff from Portland International Airport (KDPX) in Oregon on January 5. Investigators said bolts that are supposed to keep the door plug secure were missing after repair work at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington.

Rapid decompression led to injuries on the flight, and several of the passengers are part of a lawsuit against Boeing and the airline.

Following the incident, the FAA grounded all 737 Max 9 aircraft for several weeks amid a National Transportation Board (NTSB) investigation and initiated an audit of Boeing's production practices. The audit found Boeing deficient in several areas, and the agency put a limit on production of 737s and gave the company 90 days to come up with a plan to address the deficiencies and show improvement.

Since the door plug blowout, even minor incidents involving Boeing aircraft have attracted a great deal of attention.

In a letter to employees, Calhoun called the event a "watershed moment for Boeing."

"We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency,” Calhoun wrote. “We also must inculcate a total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company. The eyes of the world are on us, and I know we will come through this moment a better company, building on all the learnings we accumulated as we worked together to rebuild Boeing over the last number of years.

“As we begin this period of transition, I want to assure you, 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."

Calhoun has held the position of CEO at Boeing since January 2020, when Dennis Muilenburg was fired in the aftermath of two 737 Max crashes that killed 346 and resulted in the grounding of the aircraft for more than a year, resulting in thousands of canceled flights. 

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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