Boeing replaces head of troubled 737 Max program

A person walks past an unpainted Boeing 737-8 MAX parked at Renton Municipal Airport adjacent to Boeing’s factory in Renton, Washington on January 25, 2024. 

Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

Boeing is replacing the head of its 737 Max program less than two months after a panel blew out on one of the jet models during an Alaska Airlines flight, prompting a brief federal grounding of the aircraft type and heightened scrutiny of the plane maker’s operations.

The company’s 737 program head, Ed Clark, is leaving the company, Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, said in memo to employees. Katie Ringgold will become president and general manager of the program and the company’s Renton, Washington, site, Deal said.

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

Boeing named Elizabeth Lund to a newly created position of senior vice president of quality for the commercial airplane unit, Deal said in the note. Lund will continue to report to him, it added. The leadership changes are effective immediately.

“Ed departs with my, and our, deepest gratitude for his many significant contributions over nearly 18 years of dedicated service to Boeing,” Deal said.

The Jan. 5 accident aboard the Alaska Airlines flight is the latest crisis for Boeing that has been trying to find its footing after fatal crashes of its Boeing 737 Max 8 in 2018 and 2019 that killed all 346 people on board the flights.

It is also the latest and most serious in a string of quality flaws on Boeing planes that have delayed deliveries to customers. A month after the Alaska Airlines flight, Boeing said misdrilled holes on some Max planes would delay handovers of the aircraft to airlines.

CEOs including those of Alaska and United have publicly expressed frustration with Boeing as they await new planes to capitalize on a boom in post-pandemic travel.

The door plug that blew out of the almost brand-new 737 Max 9 used for Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 has already brought increased scrutiny and restrictions from federal regulators.

The bolts on that panel, which plugs an unused emergency exit, appeared not to be reinstalled before it was handed over to Alaska Airlines last year, a preliminary investigation from the National Transportation Safety Board found.

The Federal Aviation Administration has said it’s stepped up direct inspections of Boeing’s Max production lines and said it would prohibit the manufacturer from increasing output until the agency is satisfied with its quality controls.

As Boeing struggles to fix flaws along its production line, rival Airbus has ramped up both production and deliveries of new planes.

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