Executive In Charge Of Boeing 737 MAX Retires

Filed Under: Misc.

It has just been announced that Eric Lindblad, who is the Boeing Vice President in charge of the 737 MAX program and Renton assembly plant, will be retiring. Lindblad has been at Boeing for 34 years, though has only been in his current role since last August.

He was brought into the role to fix the supply chain and manufacturing issues that Boeing was having with the 737 MAX, though within months of him taking the role, the focus shifted quite a bit. As we all know by now, two Boeing 737 MAXs crashed, and the planes have been grounded globally since March, with no end for the groundings in sight.

Lindblad is 57 and said in a letter to employees that he had planned to retire last summer, but couldn’t turn up the opportunity he was given. He notes that 23 of his 34 years at Boeing were spent in Renton, and that this opportunity was like a homecoming for him. He also notes how it has been one of the most challenging times the Boeing 737 program ever faced.

Boeing Commercial CEO, Kevin McAllister, has made it clear that Lindblad isn’t being forced to retire.

He praised Lindblad’s “strong leadership and tireless drive over the past 12 months leading the 737 program, as he has navigated some of the most difficult challenges our company has ever faced.”

Bottom line

Frankly I’m surprised we haven’t seen more management changes at the top of Boeing (though Boeing’s CEO has since been fired), given the current 737 MAX disaster, and the amount of credibility that Boeing has lost as a result of this.

In this particular case, though, I do believe that Lindblad left voluntarily, and he certainly can’t be blamed for what went wrong here.

Assuming the story is true, I can’t imagine planning on retiring and then taking a job in hopes of helping with supply chain, only to have this disaster end up happening.

Then again, if he is leaving voluntarily, is he doing so because he thinks there’s someone better for the job, or he’s job at the point where he’s saying “screw it, I don’t want to deal with this anymore?”

Good luck to whoever takes his place…

  1. Boeing management seems so passive about all this. The CEO says “mistakes were made.” Really? They don’t make themselves. Who made them?

    And he ain’t leaving voluntarily. If he stayed on to fix something, you wouldn’t decide to re-retire until it was fixed.

    This seems to be getting worse. And is a textbook example of how not to manage a crisis.

  2. @Neil S
    He stayed on to fix the supply chain. At this point, that seems like the least of his concerns. Imagine being an electrician called to fix a wiring problem the day before he’s to retire.
    “Oh yeah sure that sounds easy”
    The whole house catches fire and now he’s being asked to rebuild the entire electrical system. That’s what it feels like

  3. @WP: Cool, so he goes and everything is right with the MAX again. Cool. See the problem? What’s the plan to get it fixed? What’s the PR and marketing plan to make people want to fly in it? And they just moved the head of the NMA program to the MAX program, so how many more NMA sales do they lose to the 320 family?

    The house is still ablaze. And no one seems to know the number for the fire department, to torture your analogy.

  4. It’s probably emotionally and physically exhausting to have that job given everything that’s happened since he took it. He most certainly didn’t sign up for this amount of stress.

  5. Boeing hasn’t shaken up management because they are still doing damage control and don’t want to admit that are systemic issues at the company. It will likely take more lost sales or another revelation of aircraft faults (likely) for investors to push or change.

  6. What a dumbass move.

    He should take the blame, “resign” and secretly get a fat paycheck from Boeing.

    This is a win-win.
    Boeing gets to show accountability Japanese style.
    Exec gets to retire with nice package.

  7. Probably Boeing is going to shut down 737 so they don’t need a supply chain manager anymore.

  8. I am confident the management shake up will happen. Boeing’s #1 priority right now is resolving this mess. Once a solution has been identified and implementation begins taking place (after regulatory approvals) heads will start rolling as they work on addressing the cultural and control issues (fixing the ship) that led to this fiasco while working to rebuild confidence from the aviation community.

    This is not a data breach or shady business behavior (I.e. Wells Fargo or Jeff Smisek/Port Authority) that can be resolved swiftly internally. Doing a shakeup now will throw Boeing further off the rails and will create a lot long term irreparable damage even potentially to the point of completely destroying the MAX business line.

    However – if a shake up does not happen then this will create an entirely new meaning of corporate greed IMHO.

  9. It looks to me that Boeings top management is still in denial and not working on the real fix. It is very clear to the whole world that this is a serious design mistake that they try to polish away with a few lines of software.
    As we say here: you can polish shit until it shines, but it will still be shit.
    They better cut their losses and forget about that 737Max thing.

  10. “It’s probably emotionally and physically exhausting to have that job given everything that’s happened since he took it. He most certainly didn’t sign up for this amount of stress.”

    His decisions directly lead to the deaths of 346 people. I hope that eats him up the rest of his life. Thought I doubt it will. He’ll collect some huge bonus in his not “forced retirement” and spend the rest of his time, sipping drinks out of coconuts on some island somewhere.

  11. @Golfingboy:

    “This is not a data breach or shady business behavior (I.e. Wells Fargo or Jeff Smisek/Port Authority) that can be resolved swiftly internally.”

    Except it absolutely is shady behavior. The moment a company places profits/sales before safety, we can call that shady. Continually bastardizing a design beyond its physical limitations to market a “new and improved” (though apparently unsafe) product is a shady business practice. Boeing decided they didn’t want the expense of a full re-design, so they overmodified an existing one then put software Bandaids over all the critical design flaws. That’s shady AF.

  12. @AR – I don’t mean to discount Boeing’s shady behavior with that sentence. I think the context of my post makes it clear that this situation is far far worse than what Wells Fargo/United did and Boeing’s crisis so bad to the point (very deep) that rolling heads now in the C-Suite in the middle of this mess will do more harm than good. Heads definitely need to roll, but has to be timed right.

  13. Every industry has a winning culture. For Aerospace it was always engineering. But the management and Board at Boeing now largely Defense types are used to lobbying with the govt and focusing on profitability. This has destroyed the engineering culture of Boeing as witness the battery issues on 787 to which they shifted engineers to and then cut corners on the MAX. I would not be surprised to see Boeing enter a long period of decline as the shortcomings of this culture manifest themselves surely albeit slowly and possibly needing a rescue from the govt.

  14. @Dave, he was in charge of the program for 12 months. The decisions that led to those deaths happened far before he took over. Your vitriol is misplaced.

  15. Good grief! So much “Monday morning quarterbacking” about what should be going on within Boeing’s management!

    Unless you have organizations that are staffed with fully redundant talents and personnel up and down the management hierarchy, it is seldom “beneficial” to just “fire” everyone involved, right away, just because some event(s) went awry within corporate operations! Boeing must be doing *much* more internally than just engaging in external “damage control” — they must be working feverishly to try and *resolve* the current crises issues ASAP, so that everything can get back on track! Merely doing “damage control” typically involves some sort of public relations “cover up” and/or “diversion” and does *not,* itself, actually “fix” anything from an engineering perspective!

    So here’s the operative question — is it easier to try and fix things ASAP with existing talents and personnel, who already know how to function within the current organizations, or with totally new groups of talents and personnel who need to first become familiar with the corporate infrastructures from scratch? Also … more rigorous management oversight efforts can be imposed upon existing talents and personnel in order to super-focus on the crisis at hand and accelerate resolutions without further undue delays and distractions!

    Management accountability can always come later *after* everything is back on track!

  16. I don’t know if Linblad’s departure is voluntary or involuntary. As with Labor Secretary Acosta, statements about personnel decisions are often misleading or just plain false. One thing I’d bet on is Linblad is leaving with a multi-million dollar severance package that will have him rolling in dough for the rest of his life even if he truly retires.

  17. I don’t understand why there is so much vitriol being shown against this guy.
    With 34 years at Boeing, “He was brought into the role to fix the supply chain and manufacturing issues that Boeing was having with the 737 MAX, though within months of him taking the role, the focus shifted quite a bit.”
    The supply chain is completely separate to (and largely subordinate to) the design, engineering and software steams that pushed this aircraft forward.
    It would be more charitable to see his decision to retire as being more aligned with a position that supply chain aside, the programme is in such an awful state that by remaining in his post his Boeing professional legacy would become tainted by the eventual outcome and likely recriminations that will fly.
    And why assume that he has any fiscal reward beyond the normal terms of service?
    Heck, if I was a supply chain specialist and then got to see the inside of the 737 MAX program, I think I’d head for Retirement Hills as soon as I could, without having my professional reputation sewered!

  18. Pathetic. Dump a few willing scapegoats but the fat cats at the top survive, despite having presided over the worst PR disaster ( and significant human tragedy) of the past 30 years.

  19. He wasn’t even in that role for more than 8 months… he is not the reason for the problems. Sorry to see his name being thrown out like its his fault – just not the case.

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