Boeing appoints new head for 737 MAX program

Katie Ringgold (centre).

22nd February 2024 – (Arlington) Boeing Co. has announced a significant leadership reshuffle within its 737 MAX aircraft program, as the company strives to navigate through the turbulence of safety concerns and restore confidence in its manufacturing processes. In an internal memo distributed to staff on Wednesday, a top-ranking Boeing official disclosed that Katie Ringgold will be taking the helm as vice president and general manager of the 737 program, including oversight of the Renton, Washington facility where the aircraft are assembled.

This change in leadership comes on the heels of an alarming incident involving an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX aircraft, which experienced a door detachment during flight last month. The episode compelled the temporary suspension of the fleet, prompting rigorous inspections before the aircraft were cleared to return to the skies. Despite the restoration of service, the event has reignited concerns surrounding Boeing’s operations and regulatory supervision.

Stan Deal, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, indicated that the management adjustments are a direct response to Boeing’s intensified commitment to quality and safety. “Enhanced focus on ensuring that every airplane we deliver meets or exceeds all quality and safety requirements,” Deal stated, underscoring the imperative that these standards are not just met but surpassed, to align with customer expectations of the aerospace titan.

In a further bid to solidify its pledge to excellence, Boeing’s commercial sector has carved out a new executive role dedicated to quality assurance. The position of senior vice president for BCA Quality will be assumed by Elizabeth Lund, who currently serves as senior vice president and general manager for airplane programs at Boeing. Lund’s new role will centre on fortifying quality control measures within the company, a move that signals Boeing’s resolve to bolster its reputation following the setbacks faced by the 737 MAX program.

The 737 MAX, a critical segment of Boeing’s portfolio, has been subject to intense global scrutiny following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019, leading to a 20-month grounding of the fleet. The subsequent investigations unearthed issues with the plane’s design and software, as well as lapses in the regulatory oversight provided by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Boeing’s leadership transition and the creation of the new quality-focused executive post reflect a strategic effort to navigate the company through the aftermath of these incidents and to prevent future occurrences. The emphasis on safety and quality is not just a corporate mandate but also a key factor in rebuilding trust with airline customers, passengers, and regulators worldwide.

The aerospace manufacturer’s CEO has been proactive in addressing these challenges, recently taking to Capitol Hill to ensure that Boeing prioritises the safety of its aircraft. “We fly safe planes,” he asserted, reinforcing the message that safety remains the company’s foremost concern.