May 1, 2019 / 3:56 PM / 19 days ago

Boeing names special adviser to CEO amid 737 MAX crisis

SEATTLE/WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - Boeing Co on Wednesday named a new senior adviser to Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg and the board of directors as the world’s largest planemaker faces its biggest crisis in years after two deadly crashes of its 737 MAX.

FILE PHOTO: Employees walk by the end of a 737 Max aircraft at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

Crashes in Ethiopia in March and Indonesia in October have triggered the grounding of Boeing’s fastest-selling plane, lawsuits, investigations and lingering concerns over the 737 MAX’s safety.

The company named Michael Luttig, who has served as general counsel since joining the company in 2006, to the newly created position of counselor and senior adviser to Muilenburg and the Boeing board of directors.

Luttig, who is often listed among the highest paid general counsels of publicly traded companies, will anchor Boeing’s legal defense over the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

Boeing also said Brett Gerry, who has been president of Boeing Japan since 2016, is succeeding Luttig as general counsel.

Both changes are effective immediately.

The two executives are expected to play a central role in Boeing’s campaign to restore the trust of customers, passengers and regulators following the crashes.

Muilenburg survived calls to break up his three-pronged job as chairman, president and CEO at an annual shareholders’ meeting on Monday.

Luttig was appointed at age 37 to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, after working as assistant counsel to former President Ronald Reagan and as a law clerk to Antonin Scalia before he joined the U.S. Supreme Court. He also served as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger.

Among those who served as clerk for Luttig were Ted Cruz, who is now a U.S. Senator from Texas, and Joel Kaplan, now Facebook Inc’s vice president of global public policy.

Gerry, who joined Boeing in 2008, formerly served as chief of staff to the attorney general and deputy assistant attorney general in the National Security Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, and in the White House as associate counsel to the president, Boeing said.

He also worked in private practice and as a law clerk at both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, the company said.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del.; Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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