Boeing CEO points at predecessor for MAX mess

NEW YORK (AFP) – Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun largely blamed his predecessor for the crisis over the 737 MAX, which remains grounded after two deadly crashes, in an interview published on Thursday.

Calhoun, a longstanding board member who took over as Chief Executive on January 13, told the New York Times that the problems at Boeing were even bigger than he anticipated.

“It’s more than I imagined it would be, honestly,” Calhoun said. “And it speaks to the weaknesses of our leadership.”

He said predecessor Dennis Muilenburg had ramped up Boeing’s plane production too quickly.

“I’ll never be able to judge what motivated Dennis, whether it was a stock price that was going to continue to go up and up, or whether it was just beating the other guy to the next rate increase,” he said.

“If anybody ran over the rainbow for the pot of gold on stock, it would have been him.”

The MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following two crashes that killed 346 people. March 10 marks the one-year anniversary of the second crash on an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

A board member since 2009, Calhoun was named chairman in October when Boeing stripped Muilenburg of that role.

Last December 23, Boeing named Calhoun as CEO, finally ousting Muilenburg entirely, and saying the company needed to “restore confidence” and “repair relationships with regulators, customers and all other stakeholders.”

File photo shows a Boeing 737 flown by Southwest Airlines at Baltimore Washington International Airport. PHOTO: AFP