Out of the roll-out spotlight was the man who steered Boeing clear of its production problems, through the wake of 9/11 to the 787's launch. After 37 years, Alan Mulally left the company in September 2006 to be chief executive of Ford.

The move was sudden but not unexpected after Mulally was passed over for the role of Boeing chief executive in July 2005 when outsider Jim McNerney was appointed. Ethics scandals that claimed Phil Condit in December 2003 and Harry Stonecipher in March 2005 thwarted what was seen as Mulally's natural progression to Boeing chief executive.

But Mulally left an indelible mark on Boeing. He steered the company through the meltdown after 9/11, cutting jobs, selling plants and staying profitable. He revitalised product development, championing the Sonic Cruiser then effortlessy switching horses to the 787.

Source: Flight International