Boeing CEO Stepping Down Amid Safety Crisis

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 06, 2024

Roughly 6 million people fly in a commercial airplane every day, and that number grows every year. These people, of course, believe they are completely safe flying in essentially a metal box 40,000 feet in the air, but as it turns out, that is not always the case. 

Boeing has made more than 10,000 of commercial planes in the air, and in the past few years, it has become glaringly apparent the company prioritizes profits over safety. Now that people know the truth, Boeing has to make big changes, including hiring a new CEO. 

Boeing Has Been a Consistent Leader in Commercial Aviation

Boeing has existed since 1916 when William E. Boeing discovered his love for aviation. Over the next 100 years, the company has grown into one of the leading manufacturers of commercial airplanes and has experienced incredible success in the industry.

Portrait of William E. Boeing in front of one of his planes mid-flight

Source: Wikipedia

However, things started to go south for the aviation conglomerate in 2019 when not one but two of its planes crashed due to malfunctioning flight control software. 


The Unforgettable Boeing Crashes

In two separate but equally horrific accidents in 2018 and 2019, two Boeing planes crashed, killing everyone on board. 

Boeing 737 operated by Lion Air crashes in Indonesia

Source: Wikipedia

The first flight, operated by Lion Air, crashed in Indonesia with 189 people on board, while the second tragedy occurred only six months later when an Ethiopian Airlines flight plummeted with 157 victims. 

Boeing Took Full Responsibility for the Tragic Accidents

After a thorough investigation, it became clear that the two airplanes crashed due to flawed flight control software, and Boeing was forced to take full responsibility for the malfunctioning planes. 

Cockpit of a plane displaying the flight control software

Source: Freepik

Some argued that Boeing deliberately concealed the software issues from airline safety organizations to ensure its planes were still chosen by commercial airlines. However, while Boeing has admitted it was their fault the planes crashed, it has assured the world it never intentionally sent planes out with faulty programming. 

Boeing Attempted to Change Its Image in 2020

Of course, with these two extreme accidents back to back, Boeing knew it needed to make drastic changes if it wanted its planes to remain a popular choice for commercial airlines.

Boeing airplane taking off from a runway

Source: iStock

Therefore, in 2020, the company removed its CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, from his post and instated one of its board members, Dave Calhoun. 

Dave Calhoun Promised to “Rebuild Trust”

There’s no doubt that Dave Calhoun had a daunting task in front of him. After such a horrific scandal, it was his job to rebuild the world’s trust in Boeing airplanes. 

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun speaks to an audience in front of a plane

Source: @Inquirer/YouTube

He promised everyone at that time that he would not only “rebuild trust” but also improve the company’s “safety culture” right away. 


Boeing’s “Safety Culture” Was Called Into Question Yet Again

However, only a couple of years after Calhoun made sweeping promises to refocus on safety above all else, another Boeing accident made headlines around the world. 

Alaska Airline Boeing plane after the door blew off mid-flight

Source: Reddit

On an Alaskan Airlines flight, an entire door of the Boeing airplane flew off just seven minutes after takeoff, leaving a gaping hole. Terrifying winds ripped through the plane, and while no one was hurt, videos of the incident show extreme panic among the hundreds of passengers. 


Bowing Was at Fault… Again

The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the incident and proved that it was, in fact, caused by a malfunction in the plane; not by anything the pilot did. They noted that four bolts necessary to secure the door plug were missing before the flight even took off.

Logo for the National Transportation Safety Board/Photograph of Dave Calhoun, CEO of Boeing, looking frustrated

Source: @NTSBgov/Facebook/YouTube

After that, many people started to wonder if Calhoun had done anything at all during his three years as CEO to refocus the company’s priorities from profits to safety or if it was all a big lie.


The Federal Aviation Administration Is Extremely Concerned for Boeing

In March 2024, the Federal Aviation Administration conducted their own investigation on Boeing as a whole, and what they found is incredibly concerning. 

Logo for the Federal Aviation Administration against a cloudy sky/Logo for Boeing against a blue background


The FAA reported “multiple instances where the companies failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements.” Additionally, it noted there were signs that staff were unlikely to report problems due to a disconnect between the workers and senior management


Calhoun Announces His Resignation

While Boeing faces a criminal investigation for the door blowout, the company has announced it will be making big changes to its management once again.

CEO of Boeing Dave Calhoun announces that the Alaska Airlines door blowout was “Our mistake”

Source: @Aviation Entertainment/Facebook

CEO Dave Calhoun announced his resignation last week. He said the accident was a “watershed moment” and that while “the eyes of the world are on us, and I know that we will come through this moment a better company,” it won’t be with himself at the helm. 


A Complete Overall at Boeing

However, this time, it won’t just be letting go of its CEO but completely replacing its upper management team. 

Businessman gives a presentation at a board meeting and everyone applauds

Source: Freepik

While Boeing hasn’t announced who will replace Calhoun at the end of the year, they have reported that Stephanie Pope will take over as head of Boeing’s commercial airline division, and Steve Mollenkopf will be the new chairman. 


Will Boeing Bounce Back From So Many Mistakes?

At the moment, it’s hard to imagine Boeing bouncing back from so many egregious mistakes in just a few short years. However, if Boeing’s new leaders can enact real change, they may be able to save the century-old company from complete demise.

An airplane with lettering on the side that reads “How Boeing lost its way”

Source: @BloombergOriginals/YouTube

As Ed Pierson, executive director at the Foundation of Aviation Safety, explained, “The company deserves much better leadership, and the people who get on these airplanes deserve much better leadership.”