Boeing’s CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg is CEO no longer, the company announced today. Effective January 13, 2020 current Board Chairman David L. Calhoun takes over the top executive officer spot at the aerospace company, and becomes President as well.
This is far from a surprising decision: Boeing’s year has been marked primarily by its handling of the 737 Max issues if faced, which stemmed from aircraft failures that resulted in crashes and the deaths of passengers. Boeing has taken steps to address the crisis and its fallout, including putting $100 million into a fund to be distributed to the families and communities surrounding the victims of 737 Max crashes. It also recently halted production of new 737 Max aircraft, pending its recertification for service.
In a statement announcing the leadership change today, Boeing’s new incoming CEO Calhoun said in a statement that he “strongly believes in the future of Boeing and the 737 MAX,” and one of the headline priorities listed by the companies was “safely returning the 737 MAX to service.” The release also declared a “renewed commitment to full transparency, including effective and proactive communication with the FAA, other global regulators and its customers.”
Autonomous aircraft transportation seems like a sure thing at this point – in particular for cargo, where safety concerns around potential harm to people isn’t as much of an issue. One company pursuing this goal is Elroy Air, which has developed a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft that can carry over 300 lbs of cargo for up to 300 miles – a good distance for replacing some medium haul ground freight routes.
Now, Elroy Air is demonstrating some new aspects of their system, including the ability to pick up cargo containers on its own without any loading processes needing to be handled by humans. That’s a mighty interesting feature, and one that could potentially make possible a lot of efficiency gains in a cargo operation, like round-the-clock operation and relatively low-lift urgent deliveries of large volumes of emergency supplies.
Elroy is betting that its approach, which includes the autonomous cargo loading and loading features, as well as a hybrid fuel system that offers efficiency but also doesn’t require any major charging infrastructure to operate, could help it commercialize its services ahead of other types of designs. It’s aiming to serve a range of customers across commercial, humanitarian and military industries, and completed its first test flight earlier this year.