MAX CRISIS: Kevin McAllister forced out as head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes
Troubled plane maker Boeing has ousted its head of the Commercial Airplanes division as the crisis involving the company’s 737 MAX continues to cloud Boeing’s future.
McAllister had been head of the division for threes years before being fired by Boeing and replaced by Stan Deal, the former head of Boeing Global Services. Taking over for Deal in that position will be Ted Colbert, the former chief information officer (CIO) for Boeing. Taking over as interim CIO will be Vishwa Uddanwadiker.
Boeing, in a statement released on Tuesday (22 October), was at pains to make clear the company was focused on safety and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said: “Our entire Boeing team is focused on operational excellence, aligned with our values of safety, quality and integrity, and we’re committed to delivering on our commitments and regaining trust with our regulators, customers and other stakeholders. Stan brings extensive operational experience at Commercial Airplanes and trusted relationships with our airline customers and industry partners; and Ted brings to our Global Services business an enterprise approach to customers and strong digital business expertise—a key component of our long-term growth plans. We’re grateful to Kevin for his dedicated and tireless service to Boeing, its customers and its communities during a challenging time, and for his commitment to support this transition,” said Muilenburg. “We also thank Vishwa for stepping up to this important role.”
Earlier on 22 October, Boeing had also issued a statement touting its safety credentials and its efforts to get the 737 MAX back in the air. The company has been put on the back foot by recent revelations that it may have known as long ago as 2016 that it knew about problems with the MCAS system that has been implicated in two crashes that killed 346 people. The company said text messages between pilots that recently came to light only highlighted problems with a simulator and not with the 737 MAX itself.
It its 22 October statement, Boeing said it has “made significant progress over the past several months in support of safely returning the 737 MAX to service as the company continues to work with the FAA and other global regulators on the process laid out for certifying the 737 MAX software and related training updates. The company has also made significant governance and operational changes to further sharpen its focus”.
Boeing said it is working to provide assistance to the families of those killed in the two MAX crashes, was working with suppliers who have been affected by a slowdown in MAX production and is working with airlines who have seen their MAX fleets grounded, costing millions of dollars.
On the MCAS, or Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation Software, Boeing said it has added three additional layers of protection that will prevent accidents like those of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights “from ever happening again”. The company said it has conducted more than 800 test and production flights with the updated software, totalling more than 1,500 hours.
The company also said it has taken “steps to implement previously announced actions that will sharpen our focus on product and services safety”. These include setting up a board committee to implement safety recommendations following a five-month investigation and it also stripped Muilenburg of his chairman’s role.