Missile defense: the stepping stone to 787 stardom??

Boeing has just announced a management shake-up of sorts in the commercial airplanes division.

Scott Fancher, currently VP for missile defense, has been named the new program manager for the 787.

Fancher succeeds Pat Shanahan, who also came to the 787 after a stint as VP for missile defense. Boeing promoted Shanahan from the 787 post to head development for all airplane programs, including 787 and 747-8.

Both Shanahan and Fancher can be credited with executing a fairly impressive turnaround at the missile defense unit. In 2004, the division faced a lot of scrutiny after botching two missile defense tests due to basic quality assurance errors.

The 787 was in similarly bad shape when Shanahan arrived last October, having announced an 18-month delay. It looked like he had gotten the program back on track by May, but a 57-day strike by machinists and an unexpected fastener installation problem caused another roughly six month delay. Boeing announced this latest delay earlier this morning.

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