departure of 737 MAX program manager faced with series of problems

In the midst of turbulence, the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced, Wednesday February 21, the immediate departure of the program manager for the 737 MAX model which faces regular problems.

In a letter sent by the general director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), Stanley Deal, to the group’s employees, which Agence France-Presse was able to consult, the group announced the departure of Ed Clark, vice-president and, since 2021, general director of the 737 program, after “nearly eighteen years of dedicated service to Boeing”.

Katie Ringgold, currently vice president in charge of 737 delivery operations, will succeed Mr. Clark. The group also announced a reorganization of BCA’s management, including the appointment of Elizabeth Lund as vice-president in charge of quality.

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Mr. Clark was also head of the Renton factory, not far from the group’s historic headquarters in Seattle, in the northwest of the country, where the final assembly of the 737 Max 9 involved in an incident in January 2024 takes place. During an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon to California, a locked door came loose from the cabin.

The incident caused only a few minor injuries, but the American Civil Aviation Regulatory Agency (FAA) suspended 171 of the 218 737 MAX 9 planes already delivered. A preliminary report from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that four bolts supposed to secure the door were missing.

Economic consequences

The CEOs of Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the two American companies affected by the grounding of the model, had expressed their indignation and frustration with Boeing, asking what the company planned to do to improve quality of its production.

“We are the cause of the problem and we understand itDavid Calhoun, CEO of Boeing, said on January 31. We understand why they are angry and we will work to earn their trust. »

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Mr. Calhoun said the company had strengthened inspections at its factories and suppliers and had appointed a retired Navy admiral to review quality management. It also shut down the 737 MAX assembly line for a day so workers could discuss quality and safety.

The 737 MAX had already been grounded for almost two years after the crashes of two aircraft, the first, at the end of 2018, of the Indonesian company Lion Air, the second, at the beginning of 2019, of the Ethiopian company Ethiopian Airlines, causing more than 350 dead. In both cases, a problem with new software was the cause of the crashes.

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Criticisms and economic consequences overwhelm the aeronautical company. Boeing shares closed down 1% on Wednesday. They have lost 19% – and around $27 billion (around €25 billion) in stock market value – since the door incident.

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Le Monde with AP and AFP

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