SEATTLE/WASHINGTON Boeing Co. on Tuesday ousted the top executive of its commercial airplanes division, Kevin McAllister, marking the first high-level departure since two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX jets.

The company named veteran Boeing executive Stan Deal to succeed McAllister effective immediately as president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). Deal had led Boeing’s recently formed Global Services division.

The world’s largest plane maker faces a growing crisis over the eight-month safety ban on its best-selling single-aisle jet prompted by crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.

Tuesday’s announcement, a day before Boeing was due to report quarterly results, shocked some Boeing employees, with one insider calling McAllister a “scapegoat” and noting he came to the helm of BCA late in the 737 MAX development.

It ends a relatively unusual experiment at Boeing of handing an outsider a prominent position, and places the crucial commercial airplanes division in the hands of a long-serving Boeing insider who has relationships with important customers such as Singapore Airlines.

McAllister, a regular figure at industry conclaves, had championed an analytical, data-based approach forged in his previous position selling services for General Electric.

He was credited in part with boosting Boeing sales as part of a roving double act with sales chief Ihssane Mounir with whom he regularly toured the world clinching deals at the expense of European rival Airbus.

That sales momentum slumped to a record nine-month low after the MAX was grounded in March.

McAllister also struggled to claw back a series of industrial delays or production quality problems including delays to a military tanker and the new 777X, analysts said. McAllister could not be reached for comment.

One person familiar with the matter said McAllister’s departure had been described to staff as a “separation,” a clear indication that he had been fired.

Another person said Boeing had asked McAllister to leave, giving no explanation other than saying it was the right move at the right time for the company’s leadership. He added that the decision was not purely related to the MAX.

Deal joined Boeing in 1986 and in 2017 was tapped to lead the company’s new Boeing Global Services unit, which sells analytics, parts and training services for airline customers. — Reuters