Tuesday’s announcement that Dennis A. Muilenburg will become the 10th CEO in Boeing’s 99-year history did not come as a big surprise to insiders, but it still will set a different tone for the world’s biggest aerospace company. For starters, Muilenburg has spent almost all of his three decades at the company on the defense side of an enterprise that traditionally has generated most of its revenues from sale of commercial jetliners. Commercial aircraft chief Ray Connor will retain the Vice-Chairman’s role he has been sharing with Muilenburg to assure there is a smooth transition as far as that part of the business goes. But putting Muilenburg’s defense expertise in the CEO’s suite is a smart move, because the recent decline in Pentagon spending is bottoming out at a time when Boeing needs to replace the revenues from waning military franchises acquired in the 1990s. Over the long run, Muilenburg will become a fearsome competitor for Airbus, but in the near term a top priority will be shoring up the defense side of the house that he knows so well. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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