MIAMI — In a shocking turn of events, President and CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg has decided to part ways with Boeing after four and half years in the cockpit of the aerospace juggernaut.
He will be replaced by David L. Calhoun, current Board Chairman, effective on January 13, 2020.
Current Chief Financial Officer, Greg Smith, will serve as interim CEO until Calhoun can exit his non-Boeing duties.
Lawrence W. Kellner, a fellow board member, will serve as non-executive Chairman of the Board after Calhoun’s promotion.
The news comes several months after the Boeing 737 MAX model was grounded worldwide as a result of two crashes that cost the lives of 346 passengers.
Under new management, Boeing hopes to reestablish confidence in its brand and better handle the return of the 737 MAX to service.
In regard to restoring confidence, Boeing appears positioned to do just that, with the company stock opening at $336.75 on Monday, above its closing price of $328.05 on Friday.
The leadership change is a long time coming for some, especially after the departure of Kevin McAllister, CEO of Commercial Airplanes, in October of this year.
Muilenburg has been criticized for his mishandling of the 737 MAX debacle by regulators and shareholders alike.
Just last week, the now former CEO was reportedly scolded by Federal Aviation Administration chief Stephen Dickson for attempting to accelerate the 737 MAX’s return timeline.
Muilenburg also continued to promise unattainable predictions on the aircraft’s return to service, leading to concerns from shareholders and regulators as to the company’s transparency.
Calhoun responded to the news by saying, “I strongly believe in the future of Boeing and the 737 MAX. I am honored to lead this great company and the 150,000 dedicated employees who are working hard to create the future of aviation.”
While Calhoun has served on the company’s board, he is still somewhat of an outsider in a company that tends to promote many of its leaders from within its own ranks.
The incoming CEO brings experience as Global Head of Private Equity at Blackstone, an American financial firm, and as the Executive Chairman of Nielsen, where he served as CEO from 2006 until 2013.
Calhoun also served as Vice Chairman at General Electric and CEO of General Electric Infrastructures, combining his financial background with some aviation know-how.
Lawrence Kellner brings additional financial expertise to the company as the current president of Emerald Creek Group and former CFO of both Continental Airlines and American Savings Bank. Such financial experience can prove crucial to Boeing, which has burned through over $3 billion in the last quarter alone.
While Boeing performed relatively well under Muilenburg, who began at the company in 1985 as an engineering intern, the company could benefit from an outside perspective as it grapples with returning its MAX fleet to service and the aftermath that may ensue.