Boeing replaces head of 737 MAX programme amid safety issues at planemaker

Boeing replaces head of 737 MAX programme amid safety issues at planemaker

Ed Clark oversaw the Renton factory where the Alaska Airlines plane involved in blowout was completed.

The head of Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX programme has left the planemaker, according to a company memo, amid scrutiny around production and safety measures following a mid-air blowout on a plane last month.

The company also reshuffled its leadership team at the Commercial Airplanes division, according to the memo sent to staff by Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) CEO Stan Deal and first reported by the Seattle Times on Wednesday.

Ed Clark, an 18-year Boeing veteran who was vice president of the MAX programme, will leave the company, the memo said. The Seattle Times reported that he had been pushed out.

Clark is being replaced by Katie Ringgold as vice president and general manager, according to the memo.

Boeing has been scrambling to explain and strengthen its safety procedures after the January accident on a brand new Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9, in which a cabin panel became detached and flew off in midair.

Clark was general manager at the company’s factory in Renton, Washington, where the plane involved in the accident was completed.

In the memo, Deal said the leadership changes were intended to drive BCA’s “enhanced focus on ensuring that every airplane we deliver meets or exceeds all quality and safety requirements”, The Seattle Times reported.

The leadership changes come in advance of Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun’s planned meeting with US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Administrator Mike Whitaker next week after the regulator travelled to Renton to tour the Boeing 737 plant.

The FAA grounded the MAX 9 for several weeks in January and has capped Boeing’s production of the MAX while it audits the planemaker’s manufacturing process.

The door panel that flew off the jet appeared to be missing four key bolts, according to a preliminary report from the US National Safety Transportation Board in early February.

According to the report, the door plug in question was removed to repair rivet damage, but the NTSB has not found evidence the bolts were re-installed.

The panel is a plug on some 737 MAX 9s instead of an additional emergency exit.

This is the second crisis involving Boeing in recent years, after two crashes of MAX planes that killed 346 people.

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