Boeing’s Board of Directors separated the roles of company chairman and CEO on Friday, removing Dennis Muilenburg from the position of chairman but emphasizing that he will remain Boeing’s president, CEO, and director. Independent lead director David Calhoun was elected to serve as non-executive chairman. According to the board, separating the roles will “enable Muilenburg to focus full time on running the company as it works to return the 737 MAX safely to service, ensure full support to Boeing’s customers around the world, and implement changes to sharpen Boeing’s focus on product and services safety.”
“The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role,” said Calhoun. “The board also plans in the near term to name a new director with deep safety experience and expertise to serve on the board and its newly established Aerospace Safety Committee.”
As previously reported by AVweb, the establishment of the Aerospace Safety Committee is one of several recently announced changes at Boeing related to the fatal accidents of two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The company has also said it will start a Product and Services Safety organization along with implementing “extensive” recommendations made by the Board of Directors after the completion of “a five-month independent review of the company’s policies and processes for the design and development of its airplanes.”
What comes drifting up from the depths of the events surrounding the Max, is the way that management of economics has become leading above management of safety in the aviation industry. This is the case throughout the industry at the moment. Safety management systems seem like the bugee cords for profit…how flexible can we keep those cords before hitting bottom? The whole 737 evolution is driven by costs – type rating comonality and training. The aircraft is inherently safe – but a boundary has clearly been crossed and history has prooven that correcting this happens in the most unforgiving manner.
Well… at the very least, moving forward, the position of Chairman of the Board has taken a sidestep or two away from the decision-making “chain of responsibility”.
What a nightmare!
Why does Mr. Muilenburg still have a job? Why is the company taking so long to solve the problem? Perhaps there are more sleeping dogs that have been found. From an outsider’s point of view, it appears that Boeing is more interested in CYA than solving a systemic problem.
In a corporate environment, the leader at the top sets the standards for performance. In this case, there needs to be a new leader to change a poor corporate attitude. Withholding critical information from customers and pilots is inexcusable, those responsible in the decision change need to be removed. Airbus must be very pleased at the floundering going on within the organization. Meanwhile, the airline community and their customers are getting tired of whole fiasco.
Boeing’s Board of Directors has to come to grips with reality and stop damaging the company’s good name. As this drags on, the company is losing valuable credibility which could cause serious business consequences for years to come.