The first casualty of repeated delays of the is former 787 GM and VP Mike Bair who will be replaced by Pat Shanahan. Last week, a spokeswoman told Design News no changes would be made as a result of the delay. Shanahan moves over from a VP spot in Boeing Missile Defense Position.
It was clear a week ago when Boeing announced a six-month delay in deliveries that top Boeing executives such as CEO James McNerney expressed displeasure about the most recent delay, its third for the . “We are disappointed about the schedule changes,” he said several times. He went on several times during a teleconference to convey how upset he was about failing to meet customer commitments.
On the day of the delay announcement a week ago (Oct. 10), Design News asked a Boeing spokeswoman if management changes would be made as a result of the new schedule. This reporter asked specifically about Mike Bair and was surprised that he was not on the delay teleconference call given he had lead other calls on the progress of the 787.
“There are no management changes with this announcement. Mike Bair was with the 787 team, delivering the news and answering their questions,” she responded. Whether Bair was history then with respect to his 787 role is open to speculation. At this writing, the spokeswoman had not returned inquiries to synch what she said last week and Bair’s transfer yesterday to a Boeing marketing position.
In previous calls, Bair repeatedly downplayed problems that now are clearly bigger than he had said.
The Chicago Tribune labeled Shanahan a “rising star” and said he is the type to deliver results that CEO McNerney, a former GE and 3M executive, demands. Clearly, Bair didn’t, choosing to remove all margin from the schedule and still try to maintain the original first deliveries for May 2008. Initial deliveries now will not be made until the end of 2008 and the 787’s first flight will occur at the end of Q1 at the earliest. August and then late summer were the last two missed dates for first flight.
Commenting at this reporter’s blog on the latest delay, a Boeing employee working on 787 composites materials said the following prior to Bair’s transfer: “it was clear to everyone but senior management that there would be a delay. Boeing should have simply revealed this six months ago instead of repeatedly stating the aircraft would fly on schedule to keep their stock price in tact,” the blogger said, adding that he blamed “mismanagement” of the supply chain instead of the official reason of a fastener shortage.
Officially, Boeing is blaming out-of-sequence manufacturing, parts shortages and a lag in avionics software development.