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Boeing CEO Resigns, As Ethics, Market Share Plague Company

By Leslie Wayne

The New York Times -- The Boeing Co., its reputation tarnished by charges of ethical misconduct and its share of the aircraft market falling, said Monday that its chief executive, Philip M. Condit, had resigned.

The company, the world’s largest aerospace company, called Harry Stonecipher, who led the McDonnell Douglas Corp. into a merger with Boeing six years ago, out of retirement to become its new chief executive. Stonecipher, 67, said his No. 1 priority would be to “restore credibility” with the Defense Department and Boeing’s civilian customers.

Condit’s departure comes just a week after the company dismissed its chief financial officer and another senior executive he helped recruit from the Pentagon. Their business dealings over a proposed $20 billion contract to supply aerial refueling tankers to the U.S. Air Force are now being investigated. Earlier this year, the Pentagon penalized Boeing’s satellite operations after finding that the company had stolen documents from a competitor, the Lockheed Martin Corp.

Condit’s resignation reflects the struggles of a company, long admired as one of the greatest American industrial successes, as it tries to expand its military business to compensate for losses to a European rival, Airbus, in commercial aircraft. It marks an abrupt end to a 38-year career at Boeing.

“Our challenge is to straighten out the reputation of the company,” Stonecipher, a former president of Boeing who retired 18 months ago, said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts. Unlike Condit, he will not be chairman of the board. That position was assumed by Lewis E. Platt, the retired chairman and chief executive of the Hewlett-Packard Co., who joined the Boeing board four years ago.

When Condit, now 62, took over, Boeing was clearly outpacing Airbus. But Airbus has eaten away at Boeing’s lead, and the decline in commercial aviation after the Sept. 11 terror attacks only worsened the situation. In the last few years, Boeing has laid off 30,000 workers and shut several production lines.