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Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg resigns amid issues with 737 Max

Posted at 6:21 AM, Dec 23, 2019

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has stepped down after a tumultuous period in which the company faced a series of setbacks, including two fatal crashes, delays and numerous issues with its 737 Max airplane. Boeing continues to struggle to get its most important product back in the air.

Chairman David Calhoun will take over as CEO, effective January 13, 2020.

Boeing said in a press release that its board of directors decided to part ways with Muilenberg.

"A change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders," the company said.

Muilenburg, 55, became CEO of the world's largest aerospace company in July 2015. He previously held the chairman role as well but relinquished that seat in October. He has worked at Boeing in a number of different roles since 1985.

Boeing's 737 Max, which was the company's bestselling commercial jet, was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two fatal crashes killed 346 people. It still hasn't returned to flight, despite Boeing's efforts to clear a software fix with regulators.

The company said earlier this month that it would halt production of the 737 Max starting in January. Boeing has continued to make the 737 Max during its grounding, but uncertainty about when the federal regulators will clear the planes for flight has made its continued production untenable.

A spacecraft the company is building to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station also malfunctioned last week during its first-ever trip to space. The uncrewed test flight, which came after years of delays and setbacks, was intended to be the final major test before it was finally ready to fly humans.

The company has also been roundly criticized by federal oversight officials over billion-dollar cost overruns and missed deadlines with another NASA contract: to build the Space Launch System, a massive rocket that the space agency wants to use to return humans to the moon.

Boeing still has a strong balance sheet, and its stock is up marginally this year despite all of its setbacks. But questions about the company's leadership grew louder as the company's missteps added up.

"Under the Company's new leadership, Boeing will operate with a renewed commitment to full transparency, including effective and proactive communication with the FAA, other global regulators and its customers," the company said in a statement.

Boeing's stock rose 3% in early trading Monday.

Incoming CEO Calhoun has served on Boeing's board since 2009. He has also served as a senior managing director at Blackstone Group and he previously was the chairman and CEO of Nielsen Holdings.