Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg has been removed from the role of board chairman as part of a move to separate the company's chairman and CEO roles, the company announced Friday evening.
Muilenburg will continue as chief executive while David Calhoun assumes the role of non-executive chairman.
In its announcement, the company emphasised that the move does not reflect a loss of confidence in Muilenburg's leadership.
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"The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labour will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role," Calhoun said in a press release. In the same press release, Muilenburg emphasised that the company is "laser-focused" on returning the 737 MAX jetliner, which was grounded by regulators worldwide after two deadly crashes killed 356 people, to service.
The move is an important C-suite reshuffling for Boeing in the run-up to the anticipated re-certification of the MAX, as the company seeks to convince global regulators, pilots and fliers that it is committed to product safety.
Late last month the company announced the creation of a new internal product safety organisation to be headed by a 34-year Boeing veteran named Beth Pasztor. And the company plans to add a new board member who has "deep safety experience" in the near future.
For almost a year Boeing has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration on a set of software fixes designed to account for an automated feature that played a role in two deadly crashes. After initially announcing that it would submit the fix for FAA review no later than April, the timeline for returning the MAX to service has been continually pushed back. Some airlines are now preparing for a 737 MAX grounding that could extend into 2020. The FAA has not committed to a firm timeline to lift the grounding order.
In the meantime, Boeing and its suppliers have been suffering financially. Boeing recently experienced its worst quarterly loss in company history, with a US$3.38 billion ($5.3b) loss in the most recent quarter.