NEW YORK • Boeing has replaced the chief of its commercial plane unit, the most significant executive departure since the 737 Max grounding plunged the company into crisis seven months ago.
Mr Kevin McAllister, head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), will leave the company effective immediately, Boeing said on Tuesday.
Quarterly results released yesterday showed the company's profits were down 53 per cent.
Mr McAllister will be replaced by Mr Stan Deal, who has been chief of Boeing Global Services.
The announcement came as the Max crisis appeared to be deepening following disclosures last week of text messages between two Boeing pilots in 2016 that suggested the company was aware of problems with a flight handling system that has been blamed for two crashes.
The top-selling plane has been grounded since mid-March, following the two crashes that killed 346 people.
Efforts to win regulatory approval for the plane to resume flying have dragged on much longer than originally expected.
Boeing's chief executive Dennis Muilenburg was stripped of his title as chairman earlier this month but kept on as CEO and a board member. Some analysts believe the shift was a prelude to the CEO's eventual departure, most likely after the Max is brought back into service.
Mr McAllister, who joined Boeing in November 2016 after leading General Electric's aviation division, is the most senior figure to exit Boeing in the wake of the crisis. The Max was first announced by Boeing in 2011, long before Mr McAllister's arrival, and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration in March 2017.
Mr Richard Aboulafia, a vice-president at the Teal Group, said Mr McAllister has kept too low a profile during the crisis.
"He was not at all in public at a time when they seem to need someone in public at BCA," Mr Aboulafia said. "I don't see that (McAllister) had anything to do with the Max's development."
Mr Aboulafia has predicted more departures from Boeing.