Boeing Frontiers
March 2003
Online
Volume 01, Issue 10
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Q and A
 

MIKE BAIR, senior vice president of the 7E7 program

Less than two weeks after he was named leader of the 7E7 program, Mike Bair spoke to
Boeing Frontiers about the challenges ahead and the unique opportunities that come along
with developing the next new Boeing commercial airplane.

Mike BairQ. What are the nearest-term challenges for the program?

A. Our challenges match the organization structure we have put in place. We have three big challenges and a great leader for each. John Feren [vice president Sales, Marketing and In-service Support] is going to help us find out exactly what we should be selling. The answer isn't just an airplane. There is a much bigger opportunity for us to find new ways to provide services and improvements for the industry, and we can offer that all at once as part of this program. Walt Gillette [vice president Engineering, Manufacturing and Partner Alignment] is working on all the normal design activities as well as setting up a supplier network that will allow us to have the right global footprint and the right manufacturing approach. Craig Saddler [vice president Business Operations and Finance] is leading the effort to understand how Boeing can get the best value out of the program, what we have to do to have a good business case. Once all of that is in place and we understand it and are comfortable with it, we get to sell it to our bosses—including the board of directors —and then, if we did the assignment right, we get to go sell it to the airlines. We want to get this all done this year. It's a big job, but we've got the team and the foundation in place to get it done.

Q. What will be your main focus?

A. Most of my focus will be on integrating these three important aspects of the program—the total offering, the development of the airplane and the business case. I do expect that I will be spending a fair amount of time with our customers to make sure we understand their needs and are meeting them.

Q. How challenging is this assignment?

A. It's more challenging than any other assignment I've had. We've never done business this way before. Along with creating a new airplane, we're creating a new business model for our industry. From the way we involve suppliers to the way we interact with customers, from the way we design the airplane to the way we build it—it's all going to change. It has to. Our industry has been using the same business model for 30 or 40 years. It's amazing that it hasn't changed before, but we are seeing the result of that lack of change in the industry situation today. We have to find different ways to provide and capture value. This is a serious turning point for the industry and it is important that we are at the front of the change; that's what being a leader is all about.

Q. Why is the 7E7 program so important to The Boeing Company?

A. To be in the commercial airplane business, we have to be able to build new airplanes. If we can't do that, if we can't find a way to introduce new airplanes and meet our owners' business expectations, we won't be in the commercial airplane business for long. This program is both a requirement for our future survival and an opportunity for long-term success. The business model we set up with this program will set the stage for the next 20 years. We want to lead the way into the next phase of our industry. That means what we offer to our customers has to be different, dramatically better, than what is being done today. That means much more than just a better airplane. The services that we offer with the airplane will make the difference in our ability to succeed.

Q. How can the rest of Boeing help with the 7E7 program?

A. They can be as efficient as possible in their operations. The fact is, we are going to do nothing but spend money on this program for a few years. We see tremendous possibilities for making money, but that won't be for a while. The first airplanes don't start getting delivered until 2008. The success of this program is not just in the hands of the people working on the program, just like the rewards of this program won't be felt by only those assigned to the program. At the front end of a program, spending is required; and that means we need the company to have the cash needed to fund a development program.

 

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