Ursula: Boeing has finally taken a step in the right direction

Mar 25, 2024, 2:15 PM

Photo: The Boeing Co. logo is displayed outside of company offices....

The Boeing Co. logo is displayed outside of company offices. (Photo: Patrick T. Fallon, Getty Images)

(Photo: Patrick T. Fallon, Getty Images)

It’s about time, Boeing.

The company announced early Monday that three senior executives, including CEO David Calhoun, were stepping down. In a statement posted on Boeing’s website, Calhoun acknowledged that the mid-air blowout of an Alaska Airlines door panel was a watershed moment that changed the company. He’s leaving at the end of the year.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal is retiring, effective immediately. Board Chair Larry Kellner announced he will not run for re-election at the next shareholders’ annual meeting.

Good! This is finally a step in the right direction.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been saying on The Gee and Ursula Show that I don’t understand how Calhoun still has his job. I’ve also questioned why Boeing’s Board has largely been silent during these turbulent times.

Background story: Boeing CEO, president step down amid company turbulence

Calhoun was brought in as CEO in 2020 after the two 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people but there’s no evidence that the culture has improved during his tenure. If anything, it seems to have gotten worse. And this is a guy who made $22 million dollars in 2022!

On CNBC this morning, Calhoun said the decision to step down was 100 percent his own. He pointed out that he’ll be close to turning 68 at the end of the year.

“I’ve always said to the Board, and the Board has always been prepared, that I would give them plenty of notice so that they could plan succession in regular order. And that’s what this is about. It’s me giving them notice that at the end of the year, I plan to retire,” he explained.

Frankly, I don’t think Calhoun or Boeing had a choice.

While Boeing is dealing with the recent string of disasters, Airbus has been eating the company for lunch when it comes to orders and deliveries.

Boeing’s shares have dropped more than 25 percent this year. That’s not all.

Airline CEOs are hacked off because Boeing’s troubles are also affecting their bottom line. The FBI has now informed passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 that they may be a possible victim of a crime.

The National Transportation Safety Board is accusing Boeing of dragging its heels in the investigation of that incident. The lawsuits are piling up and plaintiffs are sharing their horror stories of almost getting sucked out of the plane at 16,000 feet.

Other Boeing news: Attorney ‘stunned’ to see similar Boeing quality control problem 6 years later

Late last week, we learned that Boeing’s most important airline customers asked to meet with the company’s board of directors without Calhoun present.

Sorry, I’m not buying that this was Calhoun’s decision. But it’s a way to ensure that he gets a golden parachute on his way out.

During the CNBC interview, Calhoun acknowledged the ongoing production challenges at Boeing.

“We have this bad habit in our company,” he said. When you move it down the line, it sends a message to your own people that ‘Wow, I guess the movement of the airplane is more important than the first-time quality of the product.’ And we have got to get that in a way more balanced. Without a doubt.”

Wow! A bad habit? It’s more like a serious issue with your company’s culture and the buck stops with Calhoun, and all the others in the C-Suite.

This seismic change in leadership is an opportunity for Boeing to undergo a drastic overhaul and return to an emphasis on safety and quality over profit.

I’m still rooting for Boeing and for the first time in a while, I feel optimistic about the company’s future.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m.- noon on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.



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Ursula: Boeing has finally taken a step in the right direction