Boeing appoints cost czar for new airplanes

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Boeing has appointed Terry Beezhold Commercial Airplanes vice president of process, tool and affordability, a move that brings the development of a new commercial aircraft programme one step closer, with direct purview over reducing the cost for new products.

Boeing said Beezhold, who previously served as 787 airplane level integration team (ALIT) leader, "will work on affordability associated with the non-recurring process for future airplane product development."

The move is significant as it lays the groundwork establishing the business case for the coming spate of potential development programmes, including the stretched 787-10, 777 upgrade and clean sheet 737 replacement.

In light of the high cost of the 787, which will be delivered in the August or September to Japan's All Nippon Airways, the move begins a comprehensive rethink about how it pays for product development.

The airframer was forced to spend billions more than it intended to develop the 787, reconstituting its supply chain and making design changes. The original $5 billion investment for Boeing has ballooned with three and a half years of delays.

As a prelude to the product development studies on Sonic Cruiser and later the 7E7, in 1997, Boeing appointed Walt Gillette director of the Airplane Creation Process Strategy (ACPS) group designed to streamline development, making it faster and cheaper. The result was to target a 50% reduction in the 70-month, $7 billion 777 development timeline.

Beezhold is also tasked with aligning the processes and tools that will support the entry into service of the 747-8 freighter and Intercontinental, 787, as well as sustaining the company's legacy programmes and supporting rate increases on 737, 767 and 777 programmes.

Additionally, 737 chief engineer John Hamilton, 747 chief engineer Michael Teal, KC-46A chief engineer Dennis Egan and 777 chief engineer Bob Whittington, have been elevated to vice president-level positions for the programmes they support.