Boeing Co. said its board had stripped chief executive Dennis Muilenburg of his chairmanship title, as the aerospace giant works to return its 737 Max jet to service.
Lead Director David Calhoun, a senior managing director at Blackstone Group, will take over as non-executive chairman, Boeing said on Friday, adding that the board had “full confidence” in Muilenburg, who will retain the top job and remain on the board.
Boeing has been struggling to put its best-selling 737 Max jet back in the air after two fatal crashes led to its global grounding in March.
The announcement came the same day an international aviation panel criticized U.S. regulators and Boeing over the certification of the plane.
An internal review in August revealed that the company was working to reorganize its engineering reporting lines company-wide and ensure higher ranking officials, including its CEO, get faster feedback about potential safety concerns from lower levels of the company.
Boeing’s board said on Friday it was working to ensure full support to Boeing’s customers, and bring changes to sharpen the company’s focus on product and services safety.
“This decision is the latest of several actions by the board of directors and Boeing senior leadership to strengthen the company’s governance and safety management processes,” it said.
It also plans to name a new director with deep safety experience and expertise to serve on the board and its newly created Aerospace Safety Committee in the near term, Boeing said.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported a key certification test flight would likely not take place until at least Nov. 1, a move that will push its approval to resume flights until at least December.
On Friday, United Airlines Holdings Inc. became the latest U.S. airline to say it would not resume 737 Max flights until January.
Shareholder advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services Inc and Glass Lewis had urged Boeing to split the role of chairman and CEO in April, saying shareholders would benefit from a robust form of independent oversight.
Muilenburg is set to testify before a U.S. House panel on Oct. 30. Lawmakers have raised questions about Boeing’s actions prior to the 737 Max certification.