Sinnett To Leave 787 Program as Boeing Shuffles Engineering Roles

 - July 29, 2013, 3:28 PM
Boeing Commercial Airplanes' Mike Sinnett briefs reporters in Tokyo during the early days of the 787 battery crisis. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing will replace Mike Sinnett as vice president and chief project engineer for the 787 program with his counterpart on the 777, Bob Whittington, as part of a major management shuffle within the company’s engineering ranks, the company announced last Friday. Sinnett—the 787’s lead engineer since January 2010—will assume the role of vice president of product development in place of Larry Schneider, who assumes Whittington’s position as v-p and chief project engineer on the 777. The moves account for part of an effort to reorganize Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ engineering department into three independent but cooperative design centers based in Washington State, Southern California and South Carolina, according to BCA vice president of engineering Mike Delaney.

“Since some of these moves involve changes to key people on the 777 and 787 programs, some may ask why we are making moves of this magnitude at this time,” said Delaney. “While there is never a perfect time to make changes, by making these moves, we are giving all of these individuals an opportunity to broaden their experience and to apply their knowledge and capability to other roles or on other programs.”

The changes will take place over an “extended” period of time to ensure smooth transitions, said Boeing.

Other moves involve vice president of engineering for Commercial Aviation Services and senior chief engineer of support Todd Zarfos, who assumes Dan Mooney’s role as vice president of engineering functions and the Washington state engineering design center. Mooney accepted the position of vice president of the Boeing South Carolina engineering design center. Zarfos, meanwhile, has agreed to assume the added role of senior chief engineer of airplane systems, a responsibility previously held by Sinnett.

Meanwhile, vice president of regulatory administration John Hamilton has agreed to add to his list of duties aviation safety and security, a role last filled by Zarfos.

Finally, Boeing said it would name a new executive to fill Zarfos’s position with Commerical Aviation Services next month.  “We are in the process of naming a person to backfill Todd in his previous role as the vice president of engineering for Commercial Aviation Services and senior chief engineer of support. We will announce Todd’s replacement in August,” said the company.

“One of the ways we ensure the continuity of excellence is to develop talent at all levels of the organization on an ongoing basis and deploy it where it can best serve the interests of the company, our customers and our employees,” said Boeing in a separate statement. “Movement of key individuals from development efforts into production efforts and vice versa ensures that we are constantly applying new thoughts to today’s airplanes and incorporating the lessons we’ve learned on our future products. This cycle helps ensure two important objectives—the ongoing improvement and evolution of our current product lines and the thoughtful development of our future products.”