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Boeing ousts head of 737 Max program in management shake-up

Boeing EVP Stanley A. Deal announced Wednesday that Ed Clark, the head of the company’s Boeing’s 737 Max program, was leaving the company.
Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Wash., on March 21, 2019.
Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Wash., on March 21, 2019. Lindsey Wasson / Reuters file
/ Source: NBC News

Boeing announced Wednesday that the head of the company's 737 Max program is leaving the company in a management shake-up in the wake of a January mishap that has damaged the aircraft manufacturer's reputation and cost it billions of dollars in value. 

Boeing Executive Vice President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Stanley A. Deal announced several leadership changes in an email to employees Wednesday, including that Ed Clark, the head of the company's Boeing’s 737 Max program, has been replaced. 

“Ed departs with my, and our, deepest gratitude for his many significant contributions over nearly 18 years of dedicated service to Boeing,” Deal said. 

On January 5, a Boeing-manufactured Alaska Airlines plane door panel blew out midair over Portland, forcing an emergency landing. 

The incident prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to temporarily ground of all Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes operating in the U.S. and subsequently increase oversight over Boeing aircraft production.

Deal said the changes are part of the company’s “enhanced focus on ensuring that every airplane we deliver meets or exceeds all quality and safety requirements.”

“Our customers demand, and deserve, nothing less,” he added.

Problems with Boeing's Max planes predate this year's mid-air blowout. In 2018 and 2019, two Max 8 passenger jets crashed as a result of problems with a flight stabilization feature on the aircraft, killing a total of 346 people. Boeing 737 Max airplanes were subsequently grounded worldwide from March 2019 to November 2020.

Airlines worldwide have been operating Max 9s, the version of the 737 Max that succeeded the Max 8, without a major incident since it entered service in 2018. However, the FAA suspended all Boeing Max production expansion in the wake of the January incident.

While Alaska and United Airlines, the two U.S. carriers that operate Max 9s, have since returned them to service, Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci indicated in an interview with NBC News that his airline's future with Boeing Max planes, especially newer Max 10s, was now uncertain. Those doubts were echoed in separate comments made by United CEO Scott Kirby.