Boeing Gets New CEO


David Calhoun officially took over as president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company on Monday. Calhoun follows Dennis Muilenburg, who stepped down from the CEO position at the end of December amidst ongoing criticism for his handling of the problems surrounding the company’s grounded 737 MAX model. Upon assuming his new role, Calhoun published a letter outlining his initial priorities for the company, which include returning the 737 MAX to service safely, rebuilding stakeholder trust, focusing on company values and maintaining production health.

“With deep industry experience and a proven track record of performance, Dave is the right leader to navigate Boeing through this challenging time in our 104-year legacy,” said Chairman of the Boeing board of directors Lawrence W. Kellner. “We’re confident Dave will take Boeing forward with intense focus on our values, including safety, quality and integrity.”

Calhoun has held senior leadership roles at organizations such as the Blackstone Group, Nielsen Holdings and GE. He has served on the Boeing board of directors since 2009 and held the position of chairman of the board from Oct. 11 to Dec. 22, 2019. According to Boeing, it currently employs more than 150,000 people worldwide and has customers in over 150 countries.

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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. “In my first few days and weeks as president and CEO, I will be listening closely to you, our customers, our partners and our regulators to ensure we understand the expectations of our stakeholders and are on a path to meeting them. In doing so, we’ll become stronger as a company and as an industry.”

    Dave has been well groomed for his position as Damage Control Gumby #2. After Muilenberg was gone, but before his official coronation and installation, those company emails were made public. These emails did not occur nor made public on Dave’s watch. Instead, Dave is now the sympathetic, empathetic, always listening, rescuer, peace-maker, who will unite the company, and be the negotiator with the press, Congress, and FAA. Get the internal emails and flap track issues out in the public, let the press and public vent, see who in Congress responds. Getting the emails and flap track issues in the open before Dave’s coronation allows the FAA to save some face by slapping a couple of fines on Boeing to show the world they still rule the global aviation roost with authority. But these fines are not cast in stone. Nor were they issued on David Calhoun’s watch. Boeing has 30 days to respond and will negotiate them down with Dave at the helm. After all, Dave is now the benevolent, sympathetic consummate peace-maker.

    Using the new economic catch all word “stakeholders”, he can look like the company savior, appearing as someone concerned for all who has a stake in the success or failure of Boeing, internally or externally. He wants to “ensure we understand the expectations of our stakeholders and are on a path to meeting them.” He understands their expectations very well. So does Boeing. And are well on the path to meeting them meaning, Boeing will publicly make sure all stakeholder’s concerns are addressed enough to keep the supply chain available, placate the short attention span of the public about safety, allow congressional mouthpieces say what they need to say to appease their constituents for the next election cycle, be the new coach for the employees providing rallying pep talks, but most importantly, let the shareholders know, full steam ahead with no new cultural changes. The bottom line is still the bottom line.

    Dave explained in his letter, the economic road ahead ” includes preparing for the first CST-100 Starliner crewed mission, first flights of the 777X and 737 MAX 10, further growth of our Global Services business and finalization of our Embraer partnership.” The 737 MAX is not going away. The current MAX series has more growth planned for it with first flights of MAX 10 coming. So, MCAS, its fix, its future is here to stay. The current series of grounded MAX 737’s will be flying soon with more expansion of the 737 series already in the pipeline.

    Boeing may get smarter about how they deal internally with engineering, appear to be more transparent to the airline customer, flying public, and FAA, but this “new” transparency is only a result of getting caught. Boeing’s present and future path is geared to making sure the shareholders know they come first, and are the priority. The rest is simply the necessary window dressing for stakeholder appeasement. Dave is guiding Boeing through the appeasement time. When finished, a new “king” will be crowned.

  2. Jim, you forgot the next mousetrap waiting for its troubles. The 777X may become a headache. In essence, a highly symbolic act, no teeth, no claws. Americans love to forget and soon we’ll see red hats with MAPOBA (Make Americans Proud Of Boeing Again) hats. Cheap flights, thats all that matters for paying passengers.

    I wrote most of my thoughts in the MAX Emails article, it would just be be wasted time to copy and paste it here. The daily MAX beatings shall continue, at least until morale improves.

  3. As of this morning’s news, it’s likely that Alex Cora (field manager of our beloved Boston Red Sox) will suffer a larger financial penalty – for his role in a signal-stealing scheme – than Boeing will endure, for their slat track scheme.

    Cora will get what he deserves. His career in baseball probably is over. So, what does Boeing deserve? IMWO, a fine of $1 million for EACH installed shipset of known-to-be-non-compliant slat tracks, PLUS an additional $1 million fine for each shipset of non-compliant tracks that were approved for release to the production floor.

    And the persons responsible for this subterfuge should find that, like a Cora, their careers in aviation (not just at Boeing) are OVER. Period.

  4. This guy is ex GE MBA. For some reason, it doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy. Is Boeing the next GE? We all know how well the MBAs did at managing GE into a pretty worthless stock. The company needs a real leader who will go after the problem and severely punish the higher ups who created the schlock house that Boeing has unfortunately become.

    • Yes, my same thoughts: “deep industry experience and a proven track record” but not in aviation.

      “We’re confident Dave will take Boeing forward with intense focus on our values, including safety, quality and integrity.” sounds familiar if you replace that name with the last CEO’s.

      It seems Boeing is no longer the aviation engineering company it ones was but a financial one. They should just own up to it. It would be much easier for everyone and they will avoid public disasters again. This tarnishes the engineers and scientists in the aviation industry.

  5. Well, the flavor of the responses so far is fairly consistent. Another “money-man” had been put in charge with the stock value as the only real goal. Bean counters are necessary and important to any successful company, fact. That said, a truly acceptable product is needed for any manufacturing company. In this case, a successful engineering / manufacturing firm was run off the rails by the bean counter mentality and won’t be truly re-railed and successful until engineering and quality once again become the primary goals of the company.

  6. I saw this guy present in the room with the President during the signing of Phase I of the China Trade Agreement yesterday … just a few days after assuming his position. Instead of sitting in his office in Chicago or being escorted into the field area where the problems occurred (to um … fix things), he’s out hob knobbing … doesn’t portend well for the future. Well … well maybe he was in DC to beg the FAA for mercy and absolution? OR … maybe he’s hoping the President will order the FAA to act fast? MAPOBA … indeed!