Boeing shuffles teams for work on newest aircraft

By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

The Boeing Co. is shaking up how the Commercial Airplanes division is structured, putting new emphasis on aircraft development.

The change comes as Boeing not only boosts jet production by 25 percent over the next 18 months but also works to introduce new aircraft derivatives, like the 787-9 and 767-based aerial-refueling tanker.

“Successfully balancing our production and development priorities is critical,” Ray Conner, president of Renton-based Boeing Commercial Airplanes, wrote in a message to employees Monday.

Conner appointed 777 program general manager Scott Fancher to lead the newly created airplane development group. Pat Shanahan will continue to oversee airplane programs, which is focused on production of existing models. And Lou Mancini remains in charge of airplane services.

Fancher’s new role will put him in charge of overseeing the development, testing and certification of aircraft like the 737 Max, which is to be built in Renton, and the Air Force tanker and the 787-9, which will be built in Everett alongside existing 747, 777 and 787 models.

Fancher also will still have a say in Boeing’s decisions on a bigger 787, known as the 787-10X, and a revamped 777, dubbed the 777X. Boeing has yet to offer either of those aircraft to customers. Fancher will continue to oversee the 777 and 777X until his replacement is named at a later date.

In airplane programs, Shanahan will be responsible for ensuring Boeing’s planned jet production increases go smoothly. The company will lean on him to make each plane program in regular production as profitable as possible.

Boeing’s South Carolina facility, which includes the company’s second 787 assembly line, will fall under the airplane-programs umbrella. That will allow Boeing South Carolina “to form one team focused on rate increases, quality and on-time deliveries for the 787 program,” Conner wrote.

The changes announced Monday aren’t the first this year within Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes group. It’s the second job change in less than a year for Fancher, who was moved in February from the 787 to keep an eye on the 777X. Conner also is relatively new in his role as president of Commercial Airplanes, taking over in June from Jim Albaugh, who plans to retire.

The Commercial Airplanes group also this year appointed a new vice president of sales, John Wojick, and a vice president of marketing, Mike Bair.

The changes on Monday should enable Boeing to “focus on our priorities and deliver on our commitments,” Conner wrote in his message to employees.

Boeing’s shares closed at $74.02 Monday, down 26 cents for the day.

Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454; mdunlop@heraldnet.com.