Two Veteran Executives Replace Boeing's Condit

By John S. McClenahen In the wake of Boeing Co.'s ethics scandals, controversy over a contract with the U.S. Air Force to build 767 refueling tankers, and dramatic commercial aircraft sales gains by archrival Airbus S.A., the question during the past couple of weeks became, "How much longer can Phil Condit last?" The answer came Dec. 1, when the board of the Chicago-based aerospace firm accepted the resignation of Philip M. Condit as chairman and CEO. Two Boeing board members and veteran manufacturing executives replaced him. Lewis E. Platt, the retired chairman, president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co., becomes non-executive chairman of the board and Harry Stonecipher, who retired from Boeing last year as vice chairman, becomes president and CEO. "I think [the board] picked the right roles for each of them," says Steve Mader, president and CEO of Christian & Timbers, an executive search firm. "Lew has got all the executive capability and energy to function as a non-executive chairman. . . . As far as Stonecipher goes, I read that as an interim strategy. . . . And I would guess that the hunt begins both internally and externally for someone else to run the business." In the meantime, perhaps to reassure both commercial and military customers, Boeing is stressing its new leaders' credentials. "Both Platt and Stonecipher are experienced leaders who are knowledgeable about the company's operations and strategy," the company said in a statement. "The board is in unanimous agreement that the company has been pursuing the right transformation strategy and that Boeing is in excellent financial condition," reported Platt. Nevertheless, the company cannot count on a turbulence-free flight from here on. For example, it's unclear whether or not Stonecipher, who is 67, will be more than an interim pilot. The 767-tanker contract remains controversial. And as Condit was leaving, Boeing's board had yet to decide on building the proposed 7E7, a new multi-billion-dollar commercial aircraft.

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