Boeing Company has fired its former CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, effective immediately. Muilenburg, who remained at the helm after two tragic Boeing 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people, was stripped of his chairmanship of the company’s board of directors in October. The crashes and the discovery of a faulty flight systems control software has been under scrutiny, including numerous federal investigations and at least one criminal probe.
“This step is long overdue and something victims’ families have been demanding for months,” said Beasley Allen’s Mike Andrews who focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation and currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims. “Only time will tell if it is a true change in the ‘win at all costs’ greedy corporate culture that resulted in the needless loss of hundreds of lives.”
In October, on the one-year anniversary of the first deadly crash, Muilenburg callously testified before Congress about Boeing, saying, “We don’t ‘sell’ safety; that’s not our business model.” Consistent with his messaging since the first crash, Muilenburg dodged accountability for the deaths. Despite evidence showing the company knew the system was faulty yet pushed to get and keep the aircraft in service, Boeing has maintained it did nothing wrong. Still, under intense questioning and posturing by lawmakers, Muilenburg reluctantly admitted Boeing violated its own principles and safety requirements and was less than transparent throughout the development and certification process, including with federal regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The announcement comes on the heels of yet another embarrassing incident for the company, a failed launch of its Starliner space capsule on Friday. Earlier this month, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson chastised the company when he testified before Congress. He refuted the company’s prediction that the MAX would gain approval by year-end, saying that the agency was taking steps to ensure something like the two fatal MAX crashes doesn’t happen again. Administrator Dickson also did not rule out the possibility that the FAA would fine Boeing for failing to disclose known problems with the aircraft, specifically its flight control software, identified as the likely cause of the two crashes.
Additionally, Boeing announced in December that it will halt production of the 737 MAX in January. Shortly thereafter, United Airlines announced it had pulled the planes from its schedule until June and Spirit AeroSystems, which manufactures fuselages for Boeing, said it would stop deliveries to Boeing.
The company’s Chief Financial Officer, Greg Smith, will serve as interim CEO. Dave Calhoun, the current board of directors’ chair, will become CEO on Jan. 13, 2020, according to an email Smith sent to Boeing employees, which was reported by various media outlets.
In addition to his Ethiopian Airlines crash clients, Mike has represented people seriously injured in a variety of aviation crashes, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes.