Boeing Names New 747-8 Program Head

 - February 26, 2009, 5:52 AM

Boeing has named a new leader for its 747-8 program as the company scrambles to meet its latest targets for first flight and certification of the 747-400 successor. Mohammad “Mo” Yahyavi moves into the position from his post as vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ 737 P-8A Poseidon team, replacing Ross Bogue, who has accepted the position of vice president and general manager of Boeing Fabrication. Bogue replaces Pat McKenna, who has taken a special assignment leading a team to identify and implement opportunities to improve the efficiency of the 787 supply chain.

The moves come some three months after Boeing revealed that the 747-8 would miss its original target for first flight by six to nine months and less than a month after it revealed a fourth-quarter, “reach-forward” charge of $685 million due to “late maturity of the 747-8 design [that] drove substantial changes for supply partners.”

A Boeing spokesman told AIN yesterday that the company now expects first flight of the 747-8 freighter by the end of the third quarter or beginning of the fourth quarter and certification in the third quarter of next year. The passenger version, dubbed the Intercontinental, is still expected to enter service with Lufthansa in the second quarter of 2011. Along with the firm order for 20 airplanes from Lufthansa, the Intercontinental’s backlog includes eight VIP versions of the airplane.

Asked whether the leadership changes related directly to the delay, the spokesman would say only, “I wouldn’t go that far.

“We’re building the follow-on wings already; we started assembling Section 41, which is the front section of the airplane, so production is under way on the first freighters,” he said.

During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings briefing last month, company COO James Bell said changes to the airplane’s wing design resulted in new load requirements for the fuselage and a new statement of work changes for suppliers. Those items account for half of the $685 million that the delay will cost Boeing. Later-than-planned moves to less expensive suppliers and reduced parts and systems commonality with the 747-400 also took a toll, as did the effect of the supply-chain “issues” on Boeing’s internal production process.