Jim Albaugh, 62, the successful chief of Boeing’s Commercial Airplane business announced he is stepping down October 1 after 37 years with the company.
Replacing Albaugh is 57-year-old Ray Conner, who began his career at Boeing as an aircraft mechanic and member of the Machinists Union 34 years ago. Conner is leaving his job as head of Boeing Sales, Marketing and Commercial Aviation Services. He has worked his way up through the ranks.
Albaugh took the reins in September 2009, as the company struggled to get its new technologically advanced 787 Dreamliner into the air and delivered to airlines. He also took over following a long strike by Boeing’s biggest union.
During Albaugh’s tenure, aircraft orders took off, the company has hired thousands of new workers and production rates for the 737 and 777 airliners are setting records. Albaugh is the former head of Boeing’s defense business, and after moving to Commercial Airplanes helped land a massive deal to build new aerial refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force based on the Everett-built 767 jet.
Also on Albaugh’s watch, Boeing established its first airplane factory outside of the Puget Sound area, a second line to build 787s in North Charleston, South Carolina. The Machinists union tried fighting the South Carolina factory by bringing a case before the National Labor Relations Board, a case dropped after the company and its biggest union reached a four year contract extension deal in the fall of 2011.
Albaugh is an engineer and a native of Eastern Washington with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Willamette University; he also holds a master’s in civil engineering from Columbia University.
“We thank Jim for his many years of service in our defense, space and security businesses and, most recently, to Boeing Commercial Airplanes where he helped ensure the certification and successful entry into service of the 787 Dreamliner and 747-8, and the launch of the 737 MAX,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney.
Conner began his career as an airplane mechanic on the 727 program in 1977. His tenure as an executive centered both around manufacturing, as the head of the 747 and 777 production lines and sales. He has long relationships with many of Boeing’s airline customers, and in 2008, took over as chief of Supplier Management, Fabrication and Propulsion Systems as well as quality assurance.
His responsibilities have included overseeing the development of Boeing’s new production and assembly facility in South Carolina. Last year, he played a lead role in negotiating a landmark, four-year contract extension with Boeing’s largest union.
“Ray’s breadth and depth of experience in commercial airplanes is unmatched in our industry,” said McNerney. “He has built airplanes, sold airplanes, serviced airplanes, managed our largest programs, knows our customers extremely well, and is respected by our employees. He is the natural next leader of our growing commercial airplanes business and this move is consistent with our executive succession plan.”
The leadership change is effective immediately. Albaugh will assist in the transition to Conner until he retires on October 1. Conner’s replacement will be named at a later date.
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KING 5's Glenn Farley and Liza Javier contributed to this report.