The man leading the 787 is one of a long line of Boeing engineers turned executives. Having joined the company in 1979 as an engineer on the 767, Mike Bair took the lead in marketing Boeing's future products in 2000. He was a key player in the events that led to cancellation of the 747X, the birth and death of the Sonic Cruiser and launch of the 787 in its place.

Named vice-president and general manager of the 7E7 programme in January 2003, Bair was tasked with building the business case to launch the first all-new Boeing in a decade, including securing risk-sharing partners, running a high-profile competition for the final assembly site, and finding customers.

After the false steps of the 747X and Sonic Cruiser, the 7E7 moved quickly under Bair's leadership. Approval to offer came in December 2003, and in April 2004 Boeing launched the 787 with a 50-aircraft firm order from All Nippon Airlines.

Source: Flight International