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Boeing re-elects outgoing CEO as search for replacement continues amid safety culture crisis

Boeing’s shareholders voted to re-elect its outgoing CEO, contrary to the proxy adviser’s recommendation, amid an ongoing safety culture crisis. 

Proxy Adviser Glass Lewis last month recommended against shareholders reelecting Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun at this week’s annual meeting, but they ignored the guidance and passed the measure, according to a preliminary tally. 

Lewis raised concerns over dissatisfaction with efforts to change the safety culture at the company, which has come under intense scrutiny this year after a number of high-profile incidents – including the death of a whistleblower and several high-level malfunctions and issues, Reuters reported.

A door plug on an Alaska Airlines flight blew out midflight in January, followed by a plane that was forced to land without front landing gear and a plane skidding off the runway in Senegal. Calhoun announced earlier this year that he would resign from his position at the end of 2024 as a result of the crisis. 

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Boeing has also faced multiple whistleblowers, such as Sam Salehpour, who testified to a culture of “effectively… putting out defective airplanes” and suggested that the planes could “fall apart at the joints” if issues do not receive immediate attention. 

Plane safety crisis

Dave Calhoun, CEO of Boeing, leaves a meeting with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., in the Hart Senate Office Building, on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. Calhoun was meeting with senators about recent safety issues including the grounding of the 737 MAX 9 plan (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Salehpour, who spent 40 years at Boing as a quality engineer, has claimed that he received physical threats for trying to raise the concerns during his time at the company. 

“My boss said, ‘I would have killed someone who said what you said in a meeting,’” he testified. “This is not safety culture when you get threatened by bringing issues of safety concerns.” 

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also opened an investigation into the company after it came to light that several 787 Dreamliner planes had missed vital inspections before distribution, leading to accusations of falsified records. 

NTSB official analyzes Alaska Airlines blowout

Investigator-in-Charge John Lovell examines the fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX. (NTSB / Fox News)

Boeing shares have dropped 30% in value this year as a result of the ongoing issues, according to The Guardian. 

Boeing’s newly-appointed Chairman Steve Mollenkopf will continue to seek a permanent replacement for Calhoun, drawing on his own experience as the former Qualcomm CEO and an engineer. 

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He has held discussions with Boeing suppliers and airline customers about their concerns so that he can appropriately frame the challenges the new CEO will face, with his search in the early stages, The Seattle Times reported. 

Sam Salehpour testifies to Congress

Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour testified in April at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on investigations hearing titled “Boeing’s Broken Safety Culture, Focusing on Firsthand Accounts” (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Mollenkopf assured the shareholders that the company remains “committed to a process that will identify the next CEO to lead Boeing through our current challenges and into the future.”

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“The months and years ahead are critically important to our company as we take the necessary steps to regain the trust lost in recent times, get back on track and perform like the company that we all know Boeing can and must be every day,” Mollenkopf said at the meeting.

FOX Business’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report. 

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