Boeing ousts 737 MAX chief – weeks after midair blowout

Boeing has ousted the executive responsible for rolling out its troubled 737 MAX planes – weeks after a panel on a new aircraft blew out in midair.

Ed Clark, who had been with the company for 18 years, is leaving effective immediately as the manufacturer battles to save its reputation and quell safety concerns.

He had overseen production at the factory in Renton, Washington, where final assembly took place on the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 that was involved in last month’s incident.

A series of other appointments have been made in the executive shake-up.

Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, said the changes are part of an “enhanced focus on ensuring that every plane we deliver meets or exceeds all quality and safety requirements”.

MAX 9 planes across the US were grounded for about three weeks so emergency door panels could be urgently inspected, with regulators expressing concern that inadequate attention is being paid to safety as Boeing tries to keep up with demand from airlines.

In response, the company has increased checks across all of its plants and suppliers – and hired a retired Navy admiral to assess quality management.

Shares in Boeing have plunged by almost 20% since the incident onboard the Alaska Airlines plane – losing about £21bn of their value.

Pilots had to make an emergency landing while passengers were exposed to a gaping hole at an altitude of 16,000ft.

Aerospace consultant Richard Aboulafia, a Boeing critic, said: “Firing the head of the MAX program was likely a matter of time, but I don’t think it means very much.

“The company’s problems are cultural, with the tone being set from the top.”