Boeing has appointed a new head of the 787 programme, barely a week after it announced it was delaying first deliveries of its new widebody airliner by six months.

The new 787 programme lead has come from Boeing's defence business, where he earned a reputation for successfully turning around troubled programmes.

Pat Shanahan, formerly head of Boeing missile defence programmes, has taken over from Mike Bair as vice-president and general manager of the 787 programme.

Bair, who has led the 787 since its launch in 2004, has become vice-president, business strategy and marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing Pat Shanahan
Pat Shanahan                  © Boeing

BCA president Scott Carson says Shanahan's "experience and proven record managing demanding and complex programmes" will enable him to tackle the challenges Boeing faces bringing its new production system on line.

"He knows how to deliver results," says Carson.

Boeing has postponed first deliveries of the 787 to November-December 2008 because delays in completing the first aircraft have pushed its maiden flight back to end of the first quarter of next year.

Shanahan is returning to BCA, where he led both the 757 the 767-400ER programmes. He moved to Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems business in 2002, initially to head the rotorcraft division.

He took over leadership of Boeing's missile defence programmes in 2004 and is credited with getting the Ground Based Missile Defence programme back on track, leading to two successful interceptor tests in a row.

Bair is taking over the job vacated by Mike Cave, who has been appointed senior vice-president business development and strategy at Boeing's corporate office in Chicago.

Boeing Mike Bair
Mike Bair                     © Boeing          

Bair was previously BCA's marketing and strategy vice-president, and as such he headed the effort that led to the birth and death of the Sonic Cruiser and the launch the 787.

Carson says the experience Bair brings from the 787 programme, "as well as the insight and knowledge of our new business model and supplier base", will help "immeasurably" with BCA's future products, services and business strategy.

Cave, meanwhile, takes over from Shep Hill, who has been named president, Boeing International, replacing Laurette Koellner, who is retiring.