Kevin McAllister, Boeing’s commercial aircraft chief since 2016, has become the first management casualty of the ongoing 737 Max drama which has grounded all of the next-generation aircraft for the past eight months after two accidents killed 346 people.
McAllister, under fire for his handling of the crisis, resigned on 22 October, and will be replaced by longtime Boeing insider Stan Deal, chief executive of Boeing Global Services, effective immediately, the aircraft manufacturer says.
Deal will be replaced by Ted Colbert, the company’s chief information officer and senior vice-president for information technology and data analytics.
"We're grateful to Kevin for his dedicated and tireless service to Boeing, its customers and its communities during a challenging time, and for his commitment to support this transition," Boeing chief executive Denis Muilenburg says in a statement. "Our entire Boeing team is focused on operational excellence, aligned with our values of safety, quality and integrity, and we're committed to delivering on our commitments and regaining trust with our regulators, customers and other stakeholders."
"Stan brings extensive operational experience at Commercial Airplanes and trusted relationships with our airline customers and industry partners; and Ted brings to our Global Services business an enterprise approach to customers and strong digital business expertise—a key component of our long-term growth plans," Muilenburg says.
Deal has been with the company since 1986 and has held numerous leadership roles within Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Global Services. Colbert is a 10-year veteran of the company.
While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is targeting a fourth-quarter return to service for the 737 Max, European regulators said earlier this week that the soonest they may be able to certificate the aircraft to return to service would likely be in January 2020. That would follow flight tests independent of the FAA’s flight certification process.
McAllister's exit comes after last week’s revelation of text messages between two Boeing tech pilots about the company’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was implicated in the crashes in Indonesia in October of 2018 and Ethiopia in March 2019.
One pilot wrote to another employee that the MCAS is "running rampant in the sim" – referring to the flight simulator – and that the system's performance was "egregious". He added: "So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)."
In the days following the publication of these messages, Boeing said the messages had been misinterpreted and reflected a reaction to a simulator program that was not functioning properly, rather than the MCAS system.
Muilenburg, who was stripped of the company’s chairmanship earlier this month, is scheduled to testify before the House Transportation Committee on 30 October about MCAS and the 737 Max.