Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

Senior Boeing counsellor who oversaw 737 Max crisis to retire

The planemaker is struggling to win regulatory approval to return the grounded jet to commercial service

J Michael Luttig, counsellor and senior advisor to the Boeing board of directors, will retire this month. AP
J Michael Luttig, counsellor and senior advisor to the Boeing board of directors, will retire this month. AP

US planemaker Boeing has announced the departure of J Michael Luttig, who oversaw all legal matters related to deadly crashes involving 737 Max jetliners.

Mr Luttig, counsellor and senior advisor to the company’s board of directors, will retire at the end of the year, the company said in a statement, as it continued to make changes to its top ranks.

Earlier this week, Boeing announced the departure of it chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, who resigned from his position as the aerospace giant grapples with a series of setbacks after two fatal crashes grounded its best-selling 737 Max jet.

The US company’s board of directors appointed chairman David Calhoun as chief executive and president, starting on January 13.

Mr Luttig, who served as Boeing's general counsel from 2006 until assuming his current responsibilities in May 2019, has been managing legal matters associated with the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents.

“(Mr) Luttig is one of the finest legal minds in the nation and he has expertly and tirelessly guided our company as general counsel, counsellor and senior advisor," said interim Boeing president and chief executive Greg Smith.

The top management change comes as the world’s biggest aerospace company faced a grim year marked by the worst crisis in its 103-year history.

Its best-selling industry workhorse has been grounded for nine months after the two tragedies in Indonesia and Ethiopia within a span of five months claimed 346 lives.

The disasters rocked the aviation industry, leading to multiple regulatory and criminal investigations that have damaged Boeing’s reputation, shattered travellers’ confidence in the plane and also hurt airlines and suppliers.

The company is struggling to win regulatory approval to return the grounded jet to commercial service.

Since the 737 Max grounding in March, the question remains whether travellers will feel confident in the plane’s safety to fly in it once the jet resumes commercial flights.

The New York Times reported Boeing has repeatedly surveyed thousands of passengers around the world for an answer. The latest poll from this month found 40 per cent of regular flyers were unwilling to fly on the Max.

Boeing has prepared strategies for airlines to help win back the public’s trust and convince travellers the company’s most popular plane is safe, the newspaper reported.

Updated: December 27, 2019 11:09 AM

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