Skip to main content

U.S. Business Boeing reshuffles management of troubled 737 Max program

Boeing Co. has reassigned the head of its next airplane project to run the troubled 737 program, according to a memo seen by Reuters on Thursday, as the grounding of its 737 MAX in the wake of two accidents commands the U.S. plane maker’s full attention.

Kevin McAllister, chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, stressed in the memo that the so-called new midmarket airplane (NMA) project would remain as a program.

But the management shakeup marks a shift in the U.S. plane maker’s immediate focus towards getting its bestselling 737 MAX, the jet that was grounded after two crashes killed nearly 350 people in the span of five months, back in the air and generating cash.

Story continues below advertisement

Boeing’s 737 program manager, Eric Lindblad, will retire in a matter of weeks after roughly 12 months on the job, Mr. McAllister told employees in the memo. Mr. Lindblad, a respected engineer who had also run the 777X wide-body program, has been with Boeing for about 34 years and had mentioned retiring last year, mr. McAllister said.

Taking Mr. Lindblad’s place as the lead of the 737 program and the Renton, Wash., factory will be Mark Jenks, who has been leading Boeing’s potential new midmarket airplane project, Mr. McAllister said.

Mr. Jenks faces daunting challenges, including untangling a backlog of undelivered planes, getting production back on course for planned output increases and finishing development of the 737 MAX 10, the largest Boeing single-aisle jet, sources said.

The stakes are high as the 737 is the backbone of Boeing’s profits and must generate cash for new projects such as the NMA.

Described as a “quiet, get-on-and-do-it” engineer, Mr. Jenks spent half of his 36-year Boeing career on the 787 and an earlier alternative that was never launched, the Sonic Cruiser.

Boeing has been running its 737 supply chain at different speeds to keep it “hot” or ready to resume full-rate production as soon as possible after the crisis ends, posing logistical problems last seen on such a scale when the 787 Dreamliner was ramping up.

NMA DELAYED

Mike Sinnett, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of product development and future airplane development, will assume the role of vice-president for NMA in addition to his current role, the memo said. Mr. Sinnett, who originally led preliminary work on the NMA, has been seen a figurehead of the program.

Story continues below advertisement

“Let me be clear – the NMA team will continue to operate as a program, and I am looking forward to Mike’s leadership in this important effort,” Mr. McAllister said in the memo.

In naming Mr. Jenks and Mr. Sinnett to run marquee projects at such a crucial time, Mr. McAllister is choosing two of Boeing’s most high-profile engineers.

Mr. Jenks is among those credited with turning around the 787 Dreamliner program, and his appointment on the NMA was seen as key to putting the potential twin-aisle aircraft on a path to a rapid launch.

But industry sources say the launch of the NMA has been delayed by the 737 MAX crisis. The NMA program, if it goes ahead, will most likely not be launched before spring or summer of next year, the sources said.

It was the second management reshuffle in four months. In March, Boeing said John Hamilton, formerly both vice-president and chief engineer in Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes division, will focus solely on the role of chief engineer.

At the same time, Boeing said Lynne Hopper – who previously led Test & Evaluation in Boeing’s Engineering, Test & Technology group – had been named vice-president of engineering for Commercial Airplanes.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter