Boeing promotes Muilenburg and Conner, names new defense head

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Boeing has promoted the top two executives from its commercial and defense divisions, and named a new chief for its defense business.

The promotion of Dennis Muilenburg and Raymond Conner will allow them to work more closely with Boeing chairman, president and chief executive Jim McNerney.

Muilenburg will become president and chief operating officer of Boeing effective 31 December, leaving his current position as head of Boeing Defense, Space and Security. He will join Boeing's corporate team at the company's Chicago headquarters and "will share with McNerney oversight of the company's business operations and focus on specific growth enablers, including important global relationships and development programme performance", says the company.

Muilenburg, a 28-year veteran at Boeing's defense division, will also assume the position of vice-chairman at Boeing.

Conner, now chief executive and president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, was also named Boeing vice-chairman effective 31 December. Conner has worked for Boeing for 35 years and has led the commercial business since June 2012. He will remain based in Seattle.

"In their new roles as corporate vice chairmen, Conner and Muilenburg will join with McNerney in managing a number of core Boeing corporate processes and activities," the company says.

Boeing named Christopher Chadwick, who has worked at the company for 31 years, as its new head of the defense, space and security division.

Since March 2009, Chadwick has been president of Boeing's military aircraft unit, which has 20,000 employees and operates from 11 locations worldwide, Boeing says.

Chadwick was also previously vice president of the F/A-18 programmes and manager of the Bell-Boeing MV-22 and CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft programmes.

Shelley Lavender will succeed Chadwick as head of Boeing's military aircraft unit. A 25-year Boeing employee, Lavender is currently vice president and general manager of integrated logistics for Boeing's global services and support business, a unit of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

The executive shuffle comes amid a time of potential leadership uncertainty at Boeing, which has rules requiring its top executive to step down at age 65.

McNerney reaches that milestone in August 2014, although he hinted in June that he may seek to stay longer and that the rules could be waived.

The leadership announcements also follow the October 2012 retirement of former Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Jim Albaugh, a move that caught many people in the industry by surprise.