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Boeing ousts the head of its troubled 737 Max program after quality control concerns

Boeing announced a management shakeup - including the ouster of the leader of the 737 Max production line. At the Singapore Airshow, miniature models of Boeing aircraft including the 737 Max (front) are displayed on February 21, 2024.
Roslan Rahman
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AFP via Getty Images
Boeing announced a management shakeup - including the ouster of the leader of the 737 Max production line. At the Singapore Airshow, miniature models of Boeing aircraft including the 737 Max (front) are displayed on February 21, 2024.

The Boeing executive who oversaw the company's troubled 737 Max program is out — part of a broader leadership change the company announced on Wednesday.

The shakeup comes amid intense scrutiny of Boeing's quality control after a door plug panel from a 737 Max 9 aircraft blew off during an Alaska Airlines flight last month.

Boeing executive Ed Clark, who was in charge of the 737 Max program, has left the company. Clark oversaw Boeing's factory in Renton, Washington where the plane that became Alaska Airlines flight 1282 was assembled.

His departure was announced in a memo to the company's staff from Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing's commercial airplanes division. Clark is leaving the company with "my, and our, deepest gratitude for his many significant contributions over nearly 18 years of dedicated service to Boeing," Deal wrote.

That's not the only leadership change Boeing announced. Elizabeth Lund will fill the newly-created position of senior vice president of quality, where "she will lead our quality control and quality assurance efforts, as well as the quality initiatives we recently announced," Deal said.

Katie Ringgold was named Clark's successor as vice president and general manager of the 737 program and Renton, Wash. plant.

No one was seriously injured in the Alaska Airlines incident, but preliminary findings by the National Transportation Safety Board found that four key bolts were not re-installed on the new jet before it left the Renton factory last year. The door plug had to be removed to fix rivet problems on the exterior fuselage when it was delivered to Boeing by contractor Spirit AeroSystems.

This follows two fatal crashes of 737 Max 8 aircraft in 2018 and 2019 which killed a total of 346 people.

The management shakeup at Boeing comes ahead of a planned meeting between CEO Dave Calhoun and Mike Whitaker, the head of the FAA. Whitaker traveled to Renton to tour the Boeing 737 plant and meet with FAA employees on the ground.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joel Rose
Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He primarily covers transportation, as well as breaking news.