By Eric M. Johnson and Tom Hals
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 jetliner.
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 counsellor 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 defence over the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
In Luttig, Boeing has tapped a veteran judge who sat for 15 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He previously served as assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, Boeing said.
He also held senior roles at the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House and in private practice, the company added.
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.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del.; Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)