Update: 8:00am PDT June 27: The Seattle Times has a detailed story, including indications why Albaugh chose to retire.
In shocking news, Boeing announced that Jim Albaugh is stepping down as CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and retiring Oct. 1.
Albaugh is just 62. He had been a candidate for CEO of The Boeing Co. when Harry Stonecipher was fired, a job that went to Jim McNerney. McNerney later tapped Albaugh, who was CEO of what was then known as Boeing Integrated Defense Services, to head Boeing Commercial Airplanes when BCA CEO Scott Carson was largely forced out following yet another delay in the 787 program.
Conner was widely assumed to be one of two candidates–Pat Shanahan was the other–to succeed Albaugh, who was assumed to be the CEO of BCA until retirement at age 65–three years from now.
Albaugh came to BCA when the 787 and 747-8 programs were in deep disarray. An engineer by trade, he contrasted to Carson’s finance and sales background, a career path that left Carson largely unprepared for the highly technical problems of the two flagship programs. Albaugh, although somewhat imperial in style, can be credited with steering the two troubled programs to production. While neither is fully healed and the 787 program in particular still faces serious challenges, both are at least on the mend.
Albaugh also repaired labor relations that had gone downhill under Carson and McNerney. But it was Conner who is credited with opening the way toward the unprecedented four year contract extension with the militant IAM 751 nearly a full year ahead of the amendable date. This brought important labor peace and production stability between two warring parties that had resulted in strikes in four of the previous five contracts.
Conner is well regarded throughout the company and with customers.