Boeing replaces Ed Clark, leader of 737 Max program, in wake of midair incident

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(NEW YORK) -- Boeing has announced it is replacing the head of its 737 Max program as part of a reshuffling of the company in the wake of the much-publicized incident of a door plug blowing out of an Alaska Airlines flight last month.

Katie Ringgold will be replacing Ed Clark – an 18-year veteran of the company – as vice president and general manager of the 737 Max program and Renton site, Boeing said.

The company also announced other leadership changes.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Stan Deal said, "I am announcing several leadership changes as we continue driving BCA's enhanced focus on ensuring that every airplane we deliver meets or exceeds all quality and safety requirements. Our customers demand, and deserve, nothing less."

The door plug fell off a few minutes after Alaska Flight 1282 took off from Portland International Airport on Jan. 5. Passengers captured footage showing a hole where the door plug came loose on the Boeing 737 Max 9 plane. The plane safely made an emergency landing and no one was seriously injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Feb. 6 saying four bolts designed to prevent the door plug from falling off the plane were missing before the plug blew off.

Records reviewed by the NTSB showed that damaged rivets on the edge frame forward of the plug were replaced by Spirit AeroSystems employees at Boeing's factory in Renton, Washington, on Sept. 19, 2023, according to the agency's report. Boeing had to open the plug by removing the two vertical movement arrestor bolts and two upper guide track bolts for the rivets to be replaced, but photo documentation obtained from Boeing showed evidence that the plug was closed with no bolts in three visible locations, according to the NTSB report.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun took responsibility for the incident during an earnings call on Jan. 31.

"Boeing is accountable for what happened," Calhoun said. "Whatever the specific cause of the accident might turn out to be, an event like this must simply not happen on an airplane that leaves one of our factories. We simply must be better. Our customers deserve better."

The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive on Jan. 6, temporarily grounding certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes while operators conduct specific inspections before returning the aircraft to service. The decision affected more than 170 planes worldwide.

Alaska Airlines returned its fleet of 737s to the air on Jan. 26, two days after the FAA released final instructions to airlines to begin conducting inspections of their 737 Max 9 planes.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso and Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 3:16PM by Amanda Maile, ABC News Permalink