Fresh off announcing a months-long delay to its 787 Dreamliner, Boeing ( BA) has named a new general manager for the program. The company said Tuesday it will replace Mike Bair, who had overseen every aspect of the 787 program since its 2004 launch, with Pat Shanahan. Shanahan had led both the 757 and 767-400ER programs and most recently was vice president for missile defense systems. The switch, which took effect immediately, came six days after Boeing said the first 787 delivery would be pushed back by six months. Because of problems in completing the assembly of the first airplanes, initial delivery was put off from May 2008 until November or December. "Pat's experience and proven record managing demanding and complex programs will allow him to build on the 787 team's success as we tackle the challenges we face in bringing our new production system fully on line," said Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, in a prepared statement. "He knows how to deliver results, understands our customers and their requirements, and has the leadership skills to get the job done. Bair will become VP of business strategy and marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, where his experience "will help us immeasurably as we take our next steps with future products, services and business strategy," Carson said. It appears that Bair "is paying for the delay anticipated on the aircraft's first delivery," said Bank of America analyst Robert Stallard in a report.
"While investors may be glad to see senior management taking decisive action on 787 after the recent questions posed on credibility, a significant body of knowledge will depart with Mike Bair and it will take time for Mr. Shanahan to get up to speed on the program," Stallard wrote. "We are also aware that there may be a suspicion among investors that problems on the 787 may be greater than currently understood." Stallard said he is neutral on the change and that Boeing's stock is "worth a look in the mid-90s." The shares traded Tuesday at $95.65, up 82 cents, or 0.9%. They have dropped about 10% this month. Bank of America has a financial relationship with Boeing that includes ownership of 1% or more of the company's equity securities and providing investment banking services.