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Originally published February 24, 2012 at 10:03 AM | Page modified February 24, 2012 at 6:46 PM

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Boeing switches 777, 787 program leaders

Boeing isn't talking about a decision to make Larry Loftis vice president and general manager on the 787 and shift Scott Fancher, who he's replacing, to Loftis' former post as vice president and general manager of the 777.

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Boeing is swapping leaders on two major airplane programs, installing Larry Loftis as vice president and general manager on the 787 to replace Scott Fancher, who takes Loftis' former post as vice president and general manager of the 777.

The changes were announced Friday morning on Boeing's internal news system. The company said it wouldn't comment on the switch and wouldn't make the executives available for interviews.

Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement that the changes will "better align our organization for the challenges ahead."

Loftis' appointment to the 787 program "will take advantage of Larry's more than 32 years of commercial product experience and knowledge of Boeing's production system," Albaugh said.

The changes come as Boeing decides where it wants the 777 program to go next, said Scott Hamilton, an aviation consultant at Leeham Co. in Issaquah.

The company is studying what's currently dubbed the 777X, meant to improve on the existing 777-300ER.

"The take in aviation circles has long suggested the 777X is going to have a composite wing and a composite wing box, and Scott has all that composite experience with the 787," Hamilton said.

Fancher moved from Boeing's military side to take the day-to-day lead on the 787 in late 2008.

The 787 was delivered more than three years late, but "Fancher also inherited a mess. He's done what he could do with cleaning up that mess," Hamilton said.

Loftis becomes the 787 lead as that program's production ramps up. He is known for helping take the 777 from traditional to lean manufacturing, Hamilton said.

"Ramp-up is going to be critical for Boeing to reach its goal of 10 (airplanes) a month by the end of next year," he said.

Fancher will report to Pat Shanahan, senior vice president of Airplane Programs, and will work with veteran executive Lars Andersen to define the next variant of the 777.

"This will allow us to take advantage of Scott's vast experience on development programs and allow him to align the 777 production system with the next-generation 777," Albaugh said.

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