SEATTLE/PARIS --- Boeing Co has reassigned the head of its next airplane project to run the troubled 737 program, according to a memo seen by Reuters on Thursday, as the grounding of its 737 MAX in the wake of two accidents commands the U.S. planemaker’s full attention.
Kevin McAllister, chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, stressed in the memo that the so-called new mid-market airplane (NMA) project would remain as a program.
But the management shakeup marks a shift in the U.S. planemaker’s immediate focus toward getting its best-selling 737 MAX, the jet that was grounded after two crashes killed nearly 350 people in the span of five months, back in the air and generating cash.
Boeing’s 737 program manager, Eric Lindblad, will retire in a matter of weeks after roughly 12 months on the job, McAllister told employees in the memo. Lindblad, a respected engineer who had also run the 777X wide-body program, has been with Boeing for about 34 years and had mentioned retiring last year, McAllister said.
Taking Lindblad’s place as the lead of the 737 program and the Renton, Washington, factory will be Mark Jenks, who has been leading Boeing’s potential new mid-market airplane project, McAllister said.
Jenks faces daunting challenges, including untangling a backlog of undelivered planes, getting production back on course for planned output increases, and finishing development of the 737 MAX 10, the largest Boeing single-aisle jet, sources said.
The stakes are high as the 737 is the backbone of Boeing’s profits and must generate cash for new projects like the NMA. (end of excerpt)
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