Boeing has replaced the head of its commercial airplanes business as the global grounding of the 737 MAX stretches into a seventh month.
The company on Tuesday (US time) named three-decade veteran Stan Deal to replace Kevin McAllister as Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive. The appointment was effective immediately.
Previously, Deal was chief executive of Boeing Global Services, which was established in 2017 and brought together the company’s previously separate aerospace and defence services in supply chain management, engineering, modifications and maintenance, digital analytics and training.
Deal, who joined the Chicago-headquartered company in 1986, has also spent time at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, including as general manager of supply chain management and operations, as well as vice president of Asia Pacific Sales.
However, the 737 MAX program was launched in 2011, when McAllister was at GE Aviation and the Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive was Jim Albaugh.
McAllister said in the statement it had been an honour to work with “such a professional team for the past three years”.
Chairman David Calhoun said the board fully supported these leadership moves.
“Boeing will emerge stronger than ever from its current challenges and the changes we’re making throughout Boeing will benefit the flying public well into the future,” Calhoun said in a statement.
The leadership change at Boeing Commercial Airplanes followed the board’s recent decision to separate the chairman and chief executive roles into separate positions.
While Dennis Muilenburg retained his position as chief executive and president, the board named independent lead director Calhoun as chairman.
The global fleet of the 737 MAX has sat grounded for seven months following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
An anti-stall feature on the 737 MAX, known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, was implicated in both the Lion Air crash in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019.
The company has said previously it expected to aircraft to be back flying by the end of calendar 2019.
However, airlines such as Air Canada and Southwest have extended cancellations of the 737 MAX from their schedules until February 2020.
In a separate statement on Tuesday, the airframer said it had made “significant progress over the past several months in support of safely returning the 737 MAX to service”.
It noted three extra layers of protection had been added to MCAS to “prevent accidents like these from ever happening again”.
“To date, we have conducted more than 800 test and production flights with the updated software, totalling more than 1,500 hours,” the statement said.
“The company is making steady progress on the second software update announced in June for additional flight control computer redundancy.”
Boeing said it had successfully conducted a dry-run of a certification flight test in the past week.