The Boeing executive who managed the assembly of the company’s troubled 737 MAX model of passenger jets is retiring, according to a report.
Eric Lindblad, 57, who has been with the company for 34 years, will depart amid a crisis resulting from deadly crashes of the plane model in Indonesia and Ethiopia that resulted in a total of nearly 350 deaths.
Preliminary reports blamed the accidents on new flight-control software that pushed the planes’ noses down. Boeing plans to propose a fix for the problem to federal safety regulators in September, according to the Associated Press.
Lindblad ran the Boeing assembly plant in Renton, Wash., taking over less than a year ago, the Seattle Times reported. The vice president was not being forced out, having shared his retirement plans with the company a year ago, the company said, according to the Times.
He will be replaced by Mark Jenks, a vice president who previously managed the Boeing 787 program.
After the Ethiopia crash, many countries, including the United States, brought the 737 MAX models under closer scrutiny, with many countries ordering the planes pulled from service.
Meanwhile, a group of consumers from across the U.S. filed a lawsuit in Texas this week, asserting that Southwest Airlines and Boeing knew about potential dangers with the 737 MAX model but still allowed passengers to fly on the planes.
“People would not have purchased tickets on an airline with planes that would kill them,” Yavar Bathaee, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the Dallas Morning News. “If you look at what the companies knew and when, it's quite distressing.”
Southwest officials denied the lawsuit’s allegations, while Boeing officials declined to comment, the report said.
“We intend to vigorously defend against the claims in the filing and strongly believe that the allegations made are completely without merit," Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King told the newspaper. "Safety has always been Southwest's most important responsibility to both our customers and our employees and we stand ready to fully comply with all requirements to safety return the MAX aircraft to service."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.