Boeing is more than the 7-series programs built in Seattle. There is a large defense business around the country, services based in Dallas, and soon Embraer. The entire point of moving HQ to Chicago was to find neutral ground that did not favor one of the individual businesses.
Most of the comments on this thread ignore the fact that most operating decisions on airplane programs are made by BCA. The Boeing CEO and board launched MAX and received updates. But until the first incident, I doubt they made another consequential decision.
But hey, Dennis is a good fall guy.
I agree with all of the above.
A narrative has taken hold around Boeing moving to Chicago.
There was a lot of Boeing that did not operate out of Seattle before the McDD merger due to its need to service many industries and due to the Rockwell and Hughes acquisitions, and after the McDD merger happened there were even more sites (STL, Long Beach, Etc) that became a part of Boeing. If you want to see them, go to https://craft.co/boeing/locations
and it may be helpful to click the "United States" box to focus on the US.
The CEO of the time, Phil Condit, decided keeping HQ in Seattle was not optimal for many reasons. Chicago was picked because it was "a location central to our operating units, customers and the financial community -- but separate from our existing operations" ( ref: https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/on-thi ... 827067193/
). I'd add Seattle wasn't optimal if you needed to lobby the government. So the idea was have one central location that was not a traditional Boeing power base yet made it easy to commute by air to the others, as the CEO and C suite executives need to do.
The narrative formed because the Seattle area folks were butt hurt because they felt they lost prestige and control over the company, but the reality was that it was no longer a Seattle-centric business. Whether Boeing should have remained a smaller, Seattle area company focused on commercial airliners is obviously a topic for debate, but the fact is that it changed after the Rockwell, Hughes and McDD acquisitions and once those acquisitions happened there was no putting the genie back in to the bottle. The theory was that by adding all these defense oriented business they would be more independent of the ups and downs of the commercial airliner business, and I think the current crisis shows that the defense and space sides of the businesses are helping to carry the stumbling commercial side.
For those of you wanting an engineer as CEO, be careful for what you wish for:
(Condit) was born in Berkeley, California, and became an aviation enthusiast at an early age, earning his pilot's certificate at age 18. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963, a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University in 1965, a Master's in Management from the Sloan Fellows program of the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1975, and a Ph.D. in engineering from the Tokyo University of Science .
So Condit, the guy who decided to merge with McDD and decided to move the headquarters to Chicago, was not just an engineer, but was a Ph. D. level engineer who held patents on aspects of the Boeing SST, not to mention a pilot and an aviation enthusiast from a young age. Add that to Muilenberg whose recent performance was not up to snuff, and it's not clear to me that starting out as an engineer prepares one to become CEO very well at all.
I agree a lot of the decisions about MAX came out of BCA located in Seattle. I also think it probably was a good idea to move the corporate level people to Chicago so Seattle didn't dominate corporate level decisions. But I also think once the JT crash happened, it should have been obvious to DM that he had to go hands-on, or at the very least get one of his right hand men independent of BCA management to represent him in Seattle. It should have been obvious that such a high level deadly crash was a high profile event that was going to impact the whole company. As I wrote earlier, he did screw up even earlier in the time line by looking at the IMs and deciding they were a legal issue rather than a safety issue. And his performance before Congress was dreadful. So, yeah, fall guy, but he deserved to fall, he was not earning his fat pay packet.