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Originally published October 10, 2013 at 11:12 AM | Page modified October 11, 2013 at 7:07 AM

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Bair, architect of 787 program, retiring from Boeing

Mike Bair, who led Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner program from its inception in early 2003 through the first major delay in 2007, will leave the company.


Seattle Times aerospace reporter

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Mike Bair, who led Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner program from its inception in early 2003 through the first major delay in 2007, will leave the company at the end of the month.

The news ends a Boeing career that tracked the meteoric rise and fall in the fortunes of the 787.

In an internal email message announcing Bair’s retirement, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Ray Conner praised Bair’s “remarkable contributions as an engineer and a thought leader.”

Boeing did not disclose Bair’s plans after leaving nor make him available for interview.

Bair, who is 57, led the 7E7 program, as it was then called, through its early marketing success.

From 2005, orders for the new all-composite jet poured in, reviving Boeing’s flagging commercial business.

But just weeks after the first plane was rolled out to great ceremony in July 2007, Boeing announced the first six-month delay to the program and Bair was ousted as 787 leader.

That delay later expanded to more than three years, with some airlines taking deliveries four years late.

“I have the scars to prove that we made mistakes,” Bair said in a March 2011 interview. “We tried to push the boundaries. ... I look at a lot of things we’ve done on the 787 as enormous learning opportunities. We are going to take advantage of them.”

Bair — who started at Boeing as an engineer in 1979 — had earlier been considered a star executive.

Former Boeing Commercial Airlines Chief Executive Alan Mulally deliberately cycled him through a variety of high management positions, grooming Bair for top leadership.

After his ouster from the 787 program, Bair was shifted to vice president of business strategy and marketing.

His acumen in marketing was tapped again in 2010 when he was put in charge of Boeing’s effort to decide between extensively revamping its single-aisle 737 and developing an all-new small airplane.

After a protracted period of deliberation during which the rival Airbus A320neo gained a substantial lead in orders and key customer American Airlines nearly defected, Boeing finally went with the revamp: the 737 MAX, a version of the current jet with new engines.

Conner announced Thursday that after Bair’s retirement the marketing and business-development teams will be absorbed into the sales and finance organizations.

Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing, will oversee the marketing team and report directly to John Wojick, senior vice president of global sales.

The strategy and business-development groups will join finance, under Vice President Kevin Schemm.

Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com



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