Boeing Changes Leadership of 737 Program

The staffing changes are ostensibly designed to improve quality control and image with customers.

Boeing employees woke up Wednesday morning to an email from president and CEO Stan Deal outlining leadership changes designed to improve the quality of the company’s commercial aircraft.

“I am announcing several leadership changes as we continue driving BCA’s [Boeing Commercial Airplane] enhanced focus on ensuring that every airplane we deliver meets or exceeds all quality and safety requirements,” Deal said in the email. “Our customers demand, and deserve, nothing less.”

For starters, Ed Clark, the vice president of the 737 Max program in Renton, Washington, is leaving after approximately 18 years with Boeing. His departure comes just more than a month and a half after a Renton-built Boeing 737 Max 9 lost a door plug shortly after takeoff from Portland International Airport (KPDX) in Oregon.

According to the preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the bolts that were supposed to have been installed to hold the door plug in place had been removed in order to perform quality control maintenance at the Renton plant and were never reinstalled.

There were no serious injuries from the January 5 event. As the Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 passed through 16,000 feet, the door plug departed the aircraft. The blowout tore up the cabin, ejected loose objects, and twisted seat frames. Since the incident Boeing and its suppliers have been under the microscope as questions are raised about quality control and oversight at the aerospace manufacturing giant’s commercial aircraft division.

According to Deal’s email to employees, Katie Ringgold, who has enjoyed a long career at Boeing, including having spent the past four years as vice president of 737 delivery operations, will succeed Clark as vice president and general manager of the 737 program and Renton site.

“Ringgold’s replacement as vice president, 737 delivery operations, will be named soon,” Deal said.

The email goes on to name Elizabeth Lund to the new position of senior vice president for BCA quality.

“She will lead our quality control and quality assurance efforts, as well as the quality initiatives we recently announced, within BCA and the supply chain,” Deal said. “Elizabeth is uniquely qualified for this position, given her extensive leadership experience and knowledge of our airplane programs, production system, engineering, and supply chain.”

Lund will report to Deal and serve on the company’s executive council as chair of the Boeing Quality Operations Council.

Deal said Boeing’s Carole Murray, who has been with the company for 12 years as a key player in the 787 program as well as serving as vice president of BCA total quality, is “now on special assignment to help the company achieve a smooth transition and… focus on accelerating our quality initiatives.”

Mike Fleming, a leader in Boeing’s customer support division, is succeeding Lund as senior vice president and general manager of airplane programs. According to the company, Fleming is tasked with overseeing the 737, 767, 777/777X, and 787 production programs and will continue leading the customer support team with an emphasis on meeting operational needs while working to implement company quality initiatives to minimize rework and traveled work in Boeing’s factories.

Fleming will report to Deal and serve on the executive council as chair of the Program Management Operations Council. 

Don Ruhmann, formerly 787 chief project engineer, will succeed Fleming as vice president of development programs and will also report to Deal. Ruhmann’s replacement has yet to be named.


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