Boeing has revealed a major change in its senior leadership as CEO Dave Calhoun announced he will step down at the end of 2024, during a tumultuous period for the aircraft manufacturer which has been hit by a series of criticisms of its quality control and safety culture. 

Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) President and CEO Stan Deal has also resigned from his role, effective immediately, to be replaced by current company COO Stephanie Pope, while Larry Kellner, chair of the company’s board, announced that he will not stand for re-election to his position. 

In a letter to employees, Calhoun described the door plug blow out on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX aircraft in January as a “watershed moment” for the company and said that while he believed Boeing was confronting the challenges it had faced, he had been looking for the “right time” for a CEO transition. 

He said: “We also must inculcate a total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company. The eyes of the world are on us, and I know we will come through this moment a better company, building on all the learnings we accumulated as we worked together to rebuild Boeing over the last number of years.” 

While Calhoun’s replacement was not revealed in the announcement, the board did elect former Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf as the replacement for Kellner and to oversee the search for new leadership.

Mollenkopf thanked Kellner and Calhoun for their “exceptional stewardship” of the company in recent years and said: “I am fully confident in this company and its leadership – and together we are committed to taking the right actions to strengthen safety and quality, and to meet the needs of our customers.”

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Calhoun, who has been a member of Boeing’s board since 2009, stepped into the role of CEO in 2020 after the ousting of his predecessor, Dennis Muilenburg, in the aftermath of two fatal crashes involving the company’s 737 MAX model.

The 2018 and 2019 crashes led to a 20-month grounding of all 737 MAX aircraft in the US and prompted the US Federal Aviation (FAA) to change its requirements for aircraft certification in an attempt to increase oversight of flight control systems after Boeing failed to disclose important details about the MCAS system that led to the two incidents. 

However, despite the 737 MAX taking to the air in the US again in 2020, the FAA has found a range of issues with Boeing’s safety culture and quality control in recent months, describing the former as “inadequate and confusing”. 

Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board has found that the door plug on the aircraft involved in the January blow out incident was likely missing key safety bolts when it left Boeing’s factory. 

The Department of Justice is investigating if the incident violated a deferred-prosecution agreement made with Boeing in 2021 after the crashes, which killed 346 people, and could lead to criminal prosecution. 

The executive shakeup at the company comes shortly after it also revealed changes to the management of its 737 MAX programme, saying goodbye to its head Ed Clark, who was also the general manager of the company’s Renton factory that was recently found to have failed more than a third of the tests conducted during an FAA audit. 

Following the announcement of Calhoun’s departure, Boeing stock jumped more than 3.5% in pre-market trading, though the share price has largely been unaffected by the recent issues at the company.