A month of huge leadership changes in U.S. aerospace

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It’s been a month of huge leadership shake-ups in U.S. aerospace, portending a generation shift for some of the industry’s biggest players.

Monday, Dec. 11, brought the unexpected appointment of Stephanie Pope as Boeing’s chief operating officer, elevating the finance-focused executive from the unit-CEO position of Boeing Global Services to the newly created role. Pope’s promotion has reportedly placed her as a likely successor to CEO David Calhoun, who is 66 and has been granted an five-year extension by the board of directors to remain at the top of the company. Boeing’s usual mandatory retirement age is 65.

The new role for Pope, 51, set off a chain of changes, including the appointment of sustainability chief Chris Raymond as Pope’s successor at BGS. Raymond has held a wide variety of executive positions at Boeing, including responsibility for the abandoned integration of Embraer commercial, its autonomy strategy, and defense unit business development. Both Pope and Raymond began their Boeing careers with McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s in St. Louis and Long Beach, respectively.

Brian Moran will take over as Raymond’s successor, which comes three weeks after the announced departure of Boeing strategy chief Marc Allen. With his exit, Boeing is in the process of a significant reduction in the strategy organization Allen built, according to The Air Current and Reuters reporting, moving those corporate analytical and planning functions down to the individual business units.

Related: RTX CEO: Pratt reputation will hinge on handling of GTF woes

On Dec. 14, RTX Corp., formerly Raytheon Technologies, named Chris Calio as successor to Greg Hayes, who has served as CEO of a series of consolidated companies that became RTX over the past nine years. Calio, 50, is currently the RTX chief operating officer and was president of Pratt & Whitney before that. The RTX engine unit remains mired in required inspection and rework on its PW1100G-series that has slammed the operations of A320neo-family operators around the globe. The formal handover will come in May at RTX’s shareholder meeting when Hayes will become the company’s executive chairman.

In Wichita, Spirit AeroSystems formally added retired Boeing executive Mark Jenks and retired Spirit CTO John Pilla to advisory and consulting roles assisting interim CEO Pat Shanahan as he strategically, operationally and financially reconstitutes the key supplier, reports Bloomberg News. Jenks, prior to his 2022 retirement from Boeing, was senior vice president of airplane programs and was vice president and general manager of the 787 program (roles both held by Shanahan) at a time when the company was introducing the 787-9 and -10 and accelerating production. Jenks also took the reins of the 737 Max program after the jet was grounded in 2019.

Related: Spirit AeroSystems settles back into Boeing’s orbit

Those appointments, which have been planned since Shanahan’s October hiring, follow the Nov. 28 departure of Spirit’s COO Sam Marnick, who had been the strategic architect of the acquisition of Bombardier’s A220 manufacturing operations in Belfast and Morocco. Terry George, a longtime Spirit and Boeing operations leader, came out of semi-retirement to serve as interim senior vice president, focusing on engineering, tooling and fabrications operations in Kansas and Oklahoma.

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