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Boeing picks outsider to lead commercial airplanes unit

There’s been a big management change at Boeing: Boeing Commercial Airplanes is replacing Ray Conner as chief executive.

He’s been with the company since 1977.


The new person in the top job at Boeing Commercial Airplanes is not an insider. Kevin McAllister is from the unit at General Electric that builds engines for Boeing planes.

Richard Aboulafia of Teal Group in Washington, D.C. said he’s still a good fit.

Aboulafia: “Even though he’s from the outside, GE is their longest and strongest industrial partnership so there’s a lot of shared DNA between the two companies. He’s also deeply respected as an aviation industry leader.”

Boeing said Ray Conner will stay on through next year to help with the transition.

Aboulafia said there was a rift emerging between head office in Chicago and commercial airplanes executives in Seattle, including Conner.

Aboulafia: “Disagreements over the market, over pricing, over how to position product. It seemed like a good idea to bring in someone from a completely different perspective.”

Ray Conner is very much a product of Boeing. He grew up in the Seattle area. His relatives worked at Boeing. He himself started off as a Boeing mechanic and worked his way up.

As CEO, he is perhaps best known for winning billions in tax breaks from Washington state to keep production of the 777x plane in Everett.