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Boeing removes head of 737 Max program in wake of safety incidents

A 2019 aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters/File via CNN Newsource) A 2019 aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters/File via CNN Newsource)
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Boeing removed executive Ed Clark, the head of its 737 Max passenger jet program, after a dramatic – and terrifying – midair blowout in January underscored ongoing problems with the jet.

The 737 Max is Boeing’s best selling plane, but has been a source of repeated problems over the last five years, starting with a 20-month grounding in 2019 and 2020 following two crashes that killed a total of 346 people. More recently, a door plug on a Boeing 737 Max flown by Alaska Airlines blew out soon after taking off, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the plane.

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the four bolts that should have held the door plug in place were missing when the plane left Boeing’s factory.

The NTSB report did not assess blame for the missing bolts and the accident but in a statement to investors before the findings were released, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun assumed responsibility for the incident.

“We caused the problem, and we understand that,” he told investors during a call after reporting the latest quarterly loss at the company. “Whatever conclusions are reached, Boeing is accountable for what happened.”

With the news of Clark’s departure, Boeing also announced a shuffling of a number of executives in its Boeing Commercial Airplanes unit. It created a new executive position, Senior Vice President for BCA Quality, and named Elizabeth Lund to that position.

Lund had been senior vice president and general manager of airplane programs for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, overseeing not just the 737 Max but other models of passenger jets made by the company.

Mike Fleming, who had been a senior vice president of development programs & customer support, will assume Lund’s previous job. And Katie Ringgold, who had been Vice President, 737 Delivery Operations, will take Clark’s former job overseeing the Max program.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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