Boeing Names New Digital Chief to Prepare for All-New Jetliner
(Bloomberg) -- Boeing Co. is looking to digital tools for an edge in designing its next new jetliner and upgrading its manufacturing systems.
The aircraft giant has tapped veteran engineer Linda Hapgood -- who worked on Boeing’s flagship 747 and 787 programs -- to lead the digitalization effort. Her ascent to the new position signals a renewed focus at Boeing on its core business -- designing and building airplanes -- as it emerges from one of the worst crises in its history.
Hapgood will lead an integrated product team to prepare for the planemaker’s next commercial jet development program, effective immediately, three of the company’s top executives said in a memo to employees Wednesday.
The effort will bring together teams from engineering, design, suppliers, manufacturing, human resources and finance in a new process for making an airplane. Boeing aims to improve safety, quality and manufacturing efficiency all while shortening the time it takes aircraft to enter the market.
It comes as the company seeks to recover from two fatal 737 Max crashes and the Covid-19 pandemic that have raised questions about its strategic direction and competitiveness. Rival Airbus SE has built a commanding sales lead with its long-range A321neo models, mining a market gap where Boeing doesn’t have a competing offering.
“The goal is to create a digital environment where the next new airplane and production system can be designed together, linked through one source of definitive design data,” according to the memo, from Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief engineer; Stan Deal, chief executive of the commercial division and Susan Doniz, the company’s chief information officer.
As vice president of engineering practices, processes and tools, Hapgood helped Boeing adopt digital tools such as model-based engineering to design jets. She also served as chief operating officer at Initium Aerospace, an engine-making venture between Boeing and France’s Safran SA that was sidelined earlier this year.
Hapgood’s team is expected to draw on lessons learned from the T-7A RedHawk, the military training jet brought to market in just 36 months, along with the work the Chicago-based company put into a possible new midmarket airplane before scrapping the midrange jet last year.
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