Boeing president and chief executive Phil Condit will be appointed chairman, on 1 February, 1997. The surprise board decision was made known at the company's year-end press conference on 9 December, when Boeing revealed orders for 621 commercial aircraft for the year to date, almost double the 1995 tally and a more than fivefold rise over 1994.

Condit will relinquish the title of president, for which no replacement has been named, while increasingly relying on Boeing Commercial president Ron Woodard and Boeing Defense and Space president Jerry King for operational and executive support. Long-serving chairman Frank Shrontz will remain on the board as chairman emeritus.

Details were also given of the planned rise in production required to meet the surging demand. Boeing started 1996 producing an average of 18.5 aircraft a month and will virtually double that to 36 a month by the third quarter of 1997.

An extra 20,000 staff, are expected to be working for Boeing by the end of the year, compared to the start of 1996. This does not include around 21,000 who have joined the company as a result of the Rockwell Aerospace and Defense take-over. Further growth in employment is forecast for 1997, "but not as great as this year's", adds Condit.

Boeing hopes that the more conservative trend of airline purchases during the current recovery will help smooth out the extremes of the business cycle and avoid the drastic job cuts seen at Boeing during the last recession, when the market does turn down. Acquisition of the Rockwell defence businesses should also help to balance Boeing's exposure to the civil aircraft cycle says Condit.

"Looking at the backlog of orders as a percentage of the total number of aircraft out there, then we are at about one-third of the order rate we had at the peak of the last cycle," he says.

Source: Flight International