The future Boeing CEO David Calhoun faces an immense challenge. His predecessor Dennis Muilenburg just couldn’t manage to restore confidence in the 737 MAX and get Boeing, the world’s largest aircraft maker, back on track.
And as a result, more than half a year after Calhoun, as chairman of the board, still expressed confidence in Muilenburg, the Boeing CEO had to leave the field. Last Sunday, the Boeing board allegedly held a conference call that Muilenburg was not present in and decided to send the driver out.
As icing on the cake, a space capsule from Boeing, the Starliner, failed to reach the international space station ISS last week. The Starliner had to supply astronauts in the ISS. Due to an error with an internal clock, the capsule ended up in the wrong job. This again raised questions about the competence of the engineers at Boeing.
Gain confidence from the regulator
Point one on Calhoun’s agenda is to gain the confidence of the US Aviation Authority, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA decided at the end of November to inspect all 737 MAX aircraft individually.
A few weeks before that, Boeing stated that it was expected that the planes could be launched again at the end of this year, but after the statement it soon became clear that this was impossible. It is also unclear when the green light will come from the FAA. The authority says it takes as much time to test the model as needed, without specifying a timeframe.
Reportedly, Calhoun called the FAA early this week without involving other Boeing directors. According to The Wall Street Journal This personal approach emphasizes the strategy that the new director wants to use for the regulator.
Technician who climbed inside Boeing
Dealing with the outside world was difficult for Muilenburg, analysts say. Muilenburg is primarily a technician who rose to the highest position within Boeing. More is expected from Calhoun. And the authorities are just the first hurdle, followed by airlines and travelers.
Calhoun, now Boeing’s chairman of the board, is no stranger to the aircraft maker. Fifteen years ago, he was reportedly seen as a possible candidate to lead Boeing. Boeing chose another and Calhoun ended up with the American conglomerate GE. Here he led, among other things, the branch that makes aircraft engines after the terrorist attacks in 2001. He then held various roles at publishers such as Nielsen and investor Blackstone.
But none of his managerial roles have prepared him for the criticism his predecessor Muilenburg has received. Against Financial Times says an experienced aviation analyst that it is doubtful whether everything is changing now. “We have a new face. But whether we will get a completely new approach remains to be seen.” Some critics also note that Boeing might have been better off appointing an outsider.
The interests are huge. The problems are not limited to Boeing alone. The group is one of the largest American exporters and the problems therefore affect the entire American economy. Hundreds of suppliers, at home and abroad, are involved in the construction of the 737 MAX. The influence is so great that the economic growth of the United States can even be a few tenths of a percent lower due to the production stop.