Written by David Gelles and Natalie Kitroeff
Boeing ousted one of its top executives Tuesday, the most significant management change the airplane maker has made as it struggles to contain the crisis after the crashes of two 737 Max jets that killed 346 people.
The executive, Kevin McAllister, was the head of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division. He had been at the center of the company’s response to the crashes and its troubled efforts to return the Max to service after regulators grounded it. This month, The New York Times reported he was under scrutiny inside the company for his poor handling of relationships with airlines and his management of the commercial division.
The ouster was Boeing’s most direct effort to hold someone in senior leadership accountable for the bungled handling of the Max crisis. The company’s board stopped short of removing Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, though it stripped him of his title of chairman just over a week ago. The decision to remove McAllister was made while the Boeing board met in San Antonio on Monday.
The Max jets have been grounded since March, costing Boeing at least $8 billion and roiling the global aviation industry. The company is also facing intense pressure from lawmakers in Washington.
On Friday, messages became public that suggested a pilot involved in the development of the Max had voiced concerns about the automated system in 2016, months before the Federal Aviation Administration certified the plane. That system, known as MCAS, was found to have played a role in the accidents. Those messages are expected to be of central importance when Muilenburg testifies before Congress next week.
Stanley A. Deal, who had been acting as the head of global services for Boeing, will replace McAllister immediately. Deal, who has spent more than three decades at the company, has held several senior roles throughout the company.
McAllister took over the commercial division in November 2016, after much of the development on the Max was completed but before it was certified by the FAA.
Boeing is facing multiple investigations and lawsuits related to the crashes. The company reports quarterly earnings Wednesday, which are expected to show further slumps in sales and profits.