Embattled Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has resigned with immediate effect. Muilenburg’s resignation comes just days after the company’s Starliner spacecraft failed a key orbital flight test.
According to a December 23 Boeing press release, the company’s Board of Directors drove the change in leadership replacing Muilenburg with current Chairman, David Calhoun. The release explained that the company hoped the change in leadership would usher in a “renewed commitment to transparency.”
“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I am pleased that Dave has agreed to lead Boeing at this critical juncture,” said Board of Directors Chair, Lawrence Kellner. “The Board and I look forward to working with him and the rest of the Boeing team to ensure that today marks a new way forward for our company.”
The change in leadership comes at one most tumultuous periods in Boeing’s history. Earlier this year, two fatal 737 Max crashes lead to the plane being grounded worldwide as the cause of the accidents was investigated. The ensuing investigation uncovered damning evidence that Boeing had cut corners to save time and money.
Early last month, a report from NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed that Boeing had received an additional $300 million more than originally outlined in its commercial crew contract to develop the Starliner spacecraft. The report claimed that the money had been awarded after the company threatened to drop out of the program, which would leave SpaceX as the sole commercial crew provider.
On Friday, December 20, Boeing prepared for the first orbital flight test of the Starliner spacecraft. The company was likely hoping that a successful flight would result in some positive press at a time when Boeing desperately needed it. However, just moments after being deployed from the upper stage of an Atlas V, it was clear that something had gone wrong.
Following several anxious moments, NASA and Boeing confirmed that the Starliner spacecraft had experienced an off-nominal orbital insertion. Although the spacecraft was able to achieve a stable orbit soon after, the extra fuel it consumed correcting the mistake resulted in it being unable to rendezvous with the ISS, a key requirement of the flight test.
With this latest, highly visible mishap, a change in leadership likely became inevitable.