A restructure of US aerospace giant Boeing has surprised industry observers after the company brought an outsider to head of its key commercial aircraft arm.
Boeing announced on Monday that GE Aviation materials engineer Kevin G. McAllister would replace retiring Boeing stalwart Ray Conner as the chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, a position Conner has held since 2012.
Boeing chairman and chief executive Dennis Muilenburg also announced that company veteran Stanley A. Deal would head a new business unit called Boeing Global Services and drawing together customer services groups from the existing commercial aircraft, defence, space and security business units.
The new unit is slated to begin operating as the company’s third major business unit by the third quarter of next year and will provide “broad portfolio of advanced services’’ that will incorporate subsidiaries such as parts and repair services provider Aviall and flight specialist Jeppesen. However, some defence and commercial customer fleet support will remain with the two existing business units.
The aerospcace company said 61-year-old Conner would remain as Boeing vice-chairman through 2017 and would work with McAllister to ensure a successful transition. He would also help with the formation of integrated services business and be involved in product development strategy at BCA.
Conner began his career with Boeing as a mechanic on the Boing 727 program and rose through the ranks to take on a variety of roles spanning production, program management, supply chain management as well as sales and marketing.
As head of BCA, he has overseen a surge in demand for aircraft and was also at the helm when the company’s delayed 787 program garnered international headlines over problems with overheating batteries.
"With Ray Conner's retirement timeline in sight and an expanding global services market to pursue, these moves will further strengthen and grow Boeing and better serve our customers, employees, shareholders and other partners in the years ahead," Muilenburg said in a statement. "We are immensely grateful to Ray for his leadership and contributions to Boeing over nearly four decades, and we will continue to rely on his vast experience and keen insights in supporting the leadership and business transitions underway."
McAllister, 53, spent 27 years with GE Aviation, most recently as the head of GE Aviation Services and before that as vice president and general manager of global sales and marketing. A graduate of the University fo Pittsburgh, he joined GE in 1989 from aerospace supplier Howmet Corporation.
Muilenburg described the former GE executive as a passionate leader with decades of aviation knowledge and experience.
“He knows Boeing well, shares our values and commitment to our people, and has the results-oriented operational and business experience needed to lead this vital and growing part of our company,’’ he said.