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Comment - 787 troubleshooter has right ammunition

Pat Shanahan left Boeing's missile defence programme office in Washington DC last week to head back to Seattle, Washington to take over another programme that is missing its targets. Shanahan has assumed leadership of the 787 programme - and responsibility for restoring Boeing's reputation as a premier builder of commercial aircraft.

To some within bipolar Boeing this was someone from the defence side taking over a key commercial programme. But Shanahan was actually returning to Seattle, where he had led the 757 and 767-400ER programmes before moving over to head up - and turn around - Boeing's military rotorcraft and missile defence businesses.

He follows the lead set by Alan Mulally, who headed the 777 programme then was moved over to briefly command Boeing's defence business before being called back to lead the commercial aircraft unit out of its deepest-ever production crisis.

Is Shanahan a Mulally in the making? He worked closely with Mulally, who left Boeing for Ford he faces a similar make-or-break challenge with the 787 programme and he is one of the new breed of Boeing managers with experience on both sides of the business.

He will need it. Getting the 787 back on track and into customers' hands will take the best of Boeing's resources - from both sides of the business.


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