Boeing Top Management Purged


Boeing is cleaning house at the top with its top executives leaving the company by the end of this year. CEO Dave Calhoun announced his retirement effective at the end of 2024 and Chairman of the Board Larry Kellner is not running for reelection at the annual meeting in May. Stan Deal, CEO of the commercial airplane unit, is leaving the company immediately. Calhoun told staff in a memo that the company needs to rally itself to meet the challenges that have arisen in the last five years.

“As you all know, the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 accident was a watershed moment for Boeing,” Calhoun wrote to employees on Monday. “We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency. 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.”

The hunt for a new CEO will be launched after the annual meeting, where Steve Mollenkopf is expected to be named the new Chair. Mollenkopf is the former CEO of Qualcomm and has been on the Boeing board for four years and will lead the effort to find a successor for Calhoun. Deal will be immediately replaced by Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Pope. Calhoun said he decided to resign voluntarily. He came to the job to turn Boeing around after the disastrous 737 MAX debacle. The announcements were met on Wall Street with a 1% bump in stock value.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. This is a start, but I feel there are additional upper-level management heads that will need to roll before Boeing truly fixes their decades-old issue.

  2. Wondering how much Mr. Calhoun and Kellner got to depart gracefully? Mr. Deal seems to have been made to be the whipping boy.

    Is it acceptable these days to use the term “whipping boy”?

  3. I doubt Boeing will do what it takes to really turn around this disaster. Not everything can be fixed. Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to take the upfront losses and start from scratch. The only question is, will the company be built on merit and skill, or, will they continue to play games with social engineering?

  4. The money people think this is good news… maybe it is. Is the swamp being drained? How highs the water momma?

  5. Russ’ editorial, “Boeing Top Management Purged,” really hits the mark. The consensus in the comments is clear: everyone’s pretty much on board with this big shake-up at the top. It’s a step in the right direction for Boeing, but it’s probably not enough by itself. CEO Calhoun’s pushing hard on safety, quality, and being open about things, which everyone appreciates, but folks are shouting out for even bigger changes throughout the whole company. The reactions are all over the place—from people doubting moves to others feeling a bit hopeful, me. It shows just how tricky the situation is for Boeing, balancing quick fixes with the bigger picture of winning back public and stakeholders’ trust and staying solid. This is a key moment for them, trying to get the mix right between fixing stuff internally, keeping everyone else happy, and sticking to what the aerospace world expects. And yeah, Boeing’s gotta make it through. It is too crucial for America to let it flop.

    • There is no key moment here Raf. This is a slow motion train wreck unfolding before our very eyes. All you have to do is look at the short history of what has happened over the last year. It’s so evident it’s blinding.

      • You’re right that Boeing’s problems didn’t just pop up overnight; it’s been like watching a slow crash happen. Over the last year, there have been a lot of issues, one after another, from mistakes, to regulatory troubles, and even purges.

        But it’s not all doom and gloom. It is not terminal. When things go wrong, it’s also a chance for Boeing to fix what’s broken and get better. I have faith that they’re working on making airplanes safer, improving how they’re built, and making sure their team is strong and does the right thing. Ask yourself, what can I do to solve the problem?

        Even though it seems really bad right now, this tough time serves as a reminder for Boeing that even though there are many qualified employees, some are not. It’s a chance for them to show Boeing can overcome these challenges and come out stronger. We just have to wait and see, with the eyes of the world watching, how they deal with these problems to turn things around. On Leadership: “Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way” (Gen. George Patton)

  6. This makes for good window dressing, but the core of Boeing’s issues lie squarely with the BOD who have neglected their oversight of the C suite for quite some time. Unfortunately, it will take quite a while to turn the ship around to return credibility, quality, and consumer/customer confidence, not to mention the delay in designing/developing a NMA (797). While Airbus may be laughing all the way to the bank, this is not healthy for the industry.

  7. You know when they say “retire” or “did not elect to return” that’s corporate speak for “Very Large Payout and benefits package”. So until we hold executives to a form of punishment, i.e. “you loose your retirement and benefits package” this will continue to be a problem. We punish the “hamburger flipper” to a harsher reality for poor service than we do these “FAT CATS” that are milking America dry at the expense of LIVES.

  8. Good riddance. Firing is too good for these people after screwing up an institution like Boeing. If CEO’s were personally liable for data breaches, they would prioritize IT investments. Likewise if CEO’s were personally responsible for doors blowing off airplanes the Total Quality program would never have been cut.

    Needs to be more consequences for CEO’s decisions other than golden parachutes.

  9. Head of safety, Mike Delaney, needs to go to. He was head of Commercial Engineering during the Max development and was mostly responsible for the culture of that program. At least IMHO.

  10. I think the chances of Boeing either selling off major divisions, merging, or being taken over outright continue to increase and it’s accelerating. Beancounters, not engineers, run the board and the company and have done so for too long. They have a vested and overriding interest in maximizing profits from their investment in Boeing shares. The engineers and management who gave us the B-17, B-52, 707, and 747 must be spinning in their graves. We’re witnessing the end of a once-magnificent company. There’s no reason to be optimistic about its future any more.

    • My sentiments exactly. What they also need to do fire many in the production leadership for their incompetence. As a retired A&P I’m appalled at the slipshod work coming out of the shop. If Tex Johnston were still with them he’d have raised Hell over what has been happening at Boeing.

  11. What’s changing in mind set? Deal, with an engineering BA and MBA has been replaced by Pope with an accounting degree and an MBA to run the manufacturing side; Calhoun, with bachelor’s in accounting, remains in overall charge of operations during a search for a replacement; Kellner, with a bachelor’s in accounting, is expected to be replaced by Mollenkopf, who actually was an engineer for a while, as Board Chair. So, now an accountant is in charge of building airplanes, while an engineer is expected to be in charge of a bunch of accountants, if he can get them vote the way he wants — in 2 months.

    For some reason I’d like Boeing to have a few more people in the right places who are likely understand how, why and when to spin a wrench — and when to not spin the wrench before calling for another set of eyes.

  12. The culture at Boeing has been skewed in favour of profit over engineering quality over many years. A systemic rot emanating from the top and driven by greed in the form of boosting the share price to achieve huge bonuses led to cost cutting in engineering . The 737Max bodged certification to save on pilot retraining costs and attempt to retain customers and market share against Airbus ended in catastrophic disaster– ultimately all to do with management’s greed and the share price.
    NOTE:This is DC10 deja-vu– McDonnell Douglas- the FAA and the disastrous “old boy’s agreement” between both to not issue an AD but nod through a weak notice to modify the aft baggage door mechanism within a distant time frame.
    Again it was all about money over safety–and guess who surfaces from the collapsed MD and becomes a senior exec at Boeing. Non other than the disgraced Ex MD director Harry Stoncipher. When MD collapsed, and Boeing took it over, he joined Boeing – he systematically cut costs and did his hatchet job on engineering. A greedy bean counter, He was a key architect in the slow demise of Boeing’s quality and safety first reputation and its culture.
    Finally he was fired for his secrete affair with an employee -but his greedy legacy continued with a string of a CEO’s desperate to maintain the upward price of Boeing’s share price.
    -Want to read about the shocking corrupt background of MD– buy the book -‘Destination Disaster,’ still available on Amazon long after the deaths of almost 300 innocent people . Demolishing something is easy- rebuilding it to attain its former quality and reputation takes time . Clear out the Agean stable- divert the river,it stinks.

    • The best book to understand how Boeing ended up in the present is “Flying Blind” by Robison.
      Available at Amazon. A lot to read, but a real eye opener.

  13. As an ex McDonnell Douglas and Boeing technician it is clear Boeing has forgotten about fundamentals in Aviation Maintenance. How do Maintenance Technicians perform work on an aircraft without completing proper documentation. How does QA buy off the work without records. I believe there is more to the story and all of the layers have not been exposed. To clean house at the top which they all receive massive golden parachutes, will not fix the problem and is just window dressing. Boeing will soon realize the issues are basic fundamentals which they need to return to.

  14. Ms. Post, the new head of Commercial Aircraft, is another finance person (according to her LinkedIn page), not an engineer.

    I’m skeptical that things will improve until Boeing puts engineers back in charge.

  15. Putting engineers in charge of Boeing just because there’re engineers is not the answer. Placing the “best” engineers in appropriate positions and giving them responsibility and authority to do their job is.

  16. Qualcomm is a semiconductor company. Boom! Another mistake. Why is a semiconductor company guy considered worthy of leading an aircraft company?? I was in semiconductors for 40 years and while I have the utmost respect for Qualcomm (and they were one of my competitors) the two businesses are totally different. Sigh. Seems like people at the top are incapable of solving real-world operational problems.

  17. I believe Boeing needs to get back to its roots and establish a leadership team made up of primarily technical types.

  18. Once again the entrenched myth of expertism/credentialism would have the World believe that people qualified to run one type of business are qualified to run any type of business. It’s not just in the business environment where this exists, but business is where the practice took hold long ago and it’s spread to much of today’s culture. In Boeing’s case addressing the rot at the top does not fix the company-wide failings of policy and middle-management. If they are serious, this is just a start.

    • I couldn’t have said it better. You are right on. The myth of “I am an expert” and I have “credentials” is a farce. But, like you have said, people have bought into this garbage for decades and still do. It’s so easy to see this stuff unfold. These so called “experts” are “experts” at draining companies of money for themselves. Just as Van’s Aircraft.

  19. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” (The Who or the Guess Who)
    Whenever an upper level boss talks all those that work on the floor roll their eyes because what they say has no real meaning. They try to sound intelligent but they show how out of touch they are with reality. And how does working for Qualcomm qualify you to run an aircraft factory? What a joke Boeing, the FAA, and the airlines are these days.

    • We the sheeple have voted for lower seat prices. We got them. At great expense.

      We have met the enemy. He are us!

      Then there is TSA. Where every customer is considered a criminal until his innocence can be proven.

  20. This sounds like the US Auto Industry did from 1980-2020 – management out of touch and focusing on non-value added nonsense, anti-USA, anti-success.
    Tell-tale it was when Boeing moved corporate headquarters to the DC swamp in 2022.

  21. This same situation has happened in the pharmaceutical business world where major companies hire ‘business people’ for the c-suite exec teams and CEOs, those with no scientific or technical experience at all. They ended up buying smaller biotechs who were innovative and and the expertise to discover new drugs. The BODs have also been an incestuous bunch within the investment world. To build large commercial aircraft that can fly safely continuously has got to be the most technically challenging endeavors ever. So much institutional knowledge needed to build aircraft. Corporate leadership has to be knowledgeable of aircraft design and manufacturing, otherwise how can you ensure at all levels that tech standards are being executed and maintained??

    • Another trouble with engineers is that good enough is not. They don’t known when to stop. At some point design has to be put into the production of parts.

      • Yes, but it takes an former engineer who has become a manager to know”….. when to shot the engineers and start production” Howard Hughes

  22. Whenever the new CEO is hired, his first act should be to relocate back to the Pacific Northwest where most of these aircraft are produced. He needs to get his hands dirty down on the production floor with the guys that know how it is done. They might have to move the Charleston, SC operation back to Seattle. Remember that their motivation to move there in the first place was lower cost labor in a Non- Union state. How is that working out? Boeing was once the gold standard of airframers prior to the Douglas merger, because Engineers ruled. You can always hire accountants to balance the books.

    • In a similar vein, Lockheed was held in higher esteem prior to the merger with Martin Marietta. Becoming Lockheed Martin. Should have been Martin Lockheed. Lockheed has never been the same.

  23. There’s a lengthy trickle down effect in large organizations. When new people come in at the top, they pick subordinates who they trust. This effect moves downward throughout the organization and takes some time. Until the key slots are filled, no one wants to make a big decision so I wouldn’t expect any major changes in Boeing for a couple of years. Meanwhile Airbus will eat their lunch in market share. The problem with non-technical people in key management positions is that they don’t know enough about the products and processes that produce them to guide the technical decisions. So they rely on their more technical subordinates, who may have a narrow or differing technical view from other technical people in the organization. It’s really hard to find top executives with both the business expertise and technical expertise needed for a large organization like Boeing. Usually, this works best by promoting people who have been in the organization for a while and have a track record of making good technical decisions. If you make the right technical decisions, the business side of things may take a short term hit but the products will be better in the long term. You have to get the board and top executives out of the mode of watching quarterly earnings statements.

  24. The 737 and it’s variants is an incredibly popular series of aircraft. To begin building trust in Boeing one of the first moves must be to undertake very thorough inspections of the fleet aircraft and identify all discrepancies. If it is too costly to remediate then a shared cost/buyout of affected airframes needs to happen. When passengers and airline managers are comfortable profits will return. If not the commercial side is probably finished.

  25. The other big parts of the problem cannot so easily be dealt with. Where are you going to get talented and innovative management who have better opportunities that do not involve the union and FAA hassles? I seriously mean this. There are several types of leaders who simply realize they can accomplish more with fewer people actually trying to make a name for themselves by thwarting your best ideas.
    Just like voters inevitably get what they deserve, union laborers do as well. Also, I am used to the inability of union fanatics, Marxists, and institutional partisans to not be able to deal with it, but I’m not actually anti union. I’m just anti unions in our present legal, cultural, and political mindset. A union that actually looks after the long term well being of laborers is not necessarily a problem. It just seems we’ve made it so here.
    The combo of dealing with two sick institutions empowered by law to prevent you from doing your best is not a great attraction for talent.

  26. IAM needs to take some accountability for this latest fiasco too, but I haven’t heard a peep out of them. Until they take ownership of the hardware they deliver, it won’t matter what the C-suite folks espouse.

  27. The best book to understand how Boeing ended up in the present is “Flying Blind” by Robison.
    Available at Amazon. A lot to read, but a real eye opener.

  28. We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency. Golden parachutes are are a remarkable elixir for press releases.

  29. According to some articles I have read on another site, it looks like the airline CEO’s are the ones demanding management changes with Boeing. United is supposedly in talks with Airbus after giving up on getting the 737-10 MAX. Nothing like losing confidence of your customers!

  30. Speaking of leadership changes, was that Guillaume Faury driving around Renton I just saw? But I digress. Boeing’s ongoing melodrama with Dave Calhoun, Dennis Muilenburg, James McNerney, and Harry Stonecipher teaches us the gritty reality of what it means to steer a giant through thick and thin. For heaven’s sake, there’s got to be a down-to-earth whiz out there who gets it right! The tough lessons hammered home the necessity for a hands-on skipper who not only talks the talk but walks the walk on safety, quality, and clear-as-daylight communication, all while keeping in step with the survival of the company. The workers should be ashamed, as well as “still under the radar,” IAM, for their apathy and those whom the shoe fits. Sorry-ass incompetence. For Boeing to rise from their comatose state again, it’s about more than just boardroom strategies; it’s about pride in their work, truly understand the nitty-gritty of aerospace, and connect with the crew on the ground.

    Speaking of leadership changes, was that Guillaume Faury driving around Renton I just saw? But I digress. Boeing’s melodrama with Dave Calhoun, Dennis Muilenburg, James McNerney, and Harry Stonecipher teaches us the gritty reality of what it means to steer a giant through thick and thin. For heaven’s sake, there’s got to be a down-to-earth whiz out there who gets it right! The tough lessons hammered home the necessity for a hands-on skipper who not only talks the talk but walks the walk on safety, quality, and clear-as-daylight communication, all while keeping in step with the survival of the company.
    The saga underscores a pressing need for a leader who embodies the principles of safety, quality, and transparency in communication. This leader must be fully aligned with the company’s core mission and capable of motivating the workforce towards achieving excellence. It’s disappointing that both the workers and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) seem to have displayed a concerning level of indifference, contributing to the company’s struggles.
    For Boeing to rise from their comatose state, involves more than strategic maneuvering in the boardroom; it demands a leader with a genuine passion for aerospace, a comprehensive understanding of the industry’s intricacies, and a commitment to fostering a strong connection with the employees on the front lines. This approach isn’t just about salvaging a corporate image—it’s about pride in their work, truly understanding the nitty-gritty of aerospace, and a connect with the mostly talented crew on the ground.

  31. Apparently the fertilizer companies are doing quite well. Maybe a CEO from one of them might fit the bill as they would be quite familiar with the product…

  32. When an engineering company is led by accountants, it will have the same success as a person who can’t cook running a restaurant. Or the mob running a casino in Vegas. The individuals running the show are not the problem; the problems stem from the wrong types of people running the show. .

  33. What the industry and general public would really like , is to see a move that is not intended to calm the investors but a move intended to secure safety and integrity.