Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Boeing appoints former 777X engineer to NMA leadership team

In a further indication of growing preparations for the expected launch of the new mid-market airplane (NMA) in 2018, Boeing has appointed former 777X chief project engineer Terry Beezhold to an unspecified senior leadership role on the embryonic small twin-aisle program.

Beezhold’s move comes less than two months after Boeing formally established the NMA project office and named 787 veteran Mark Jenks as vice president and general manager. Although falling short of a formal program launch, the setting up of the project office gave notice that Boeing moved “one step closer to a decision on a NMA and also serve as a vehicle to evolve how we design and build airplanes,” according to Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Kevin McAllister.

Initially emerging as a potential successor to the 757, the NMA has morphed over the past two years into a twin-aisle design targeted at a much broader, all-new market estimated at over 4,000 units.

At the recent Paris Air Show, Boeing outlined plans for an aircraft with all-composite fuselage and wings, which would seat 220–270 passengers and fly ranges of as much as 5,200 nm. If launched, the NMA will enter service in 2025.

The appointment of Beezhold, first reported by CNN, is also viewed as particularly significant because of his close association with an earlier role, prior to the 777X, that focused on building aircraft affordably through common tools and processes across different programs. The proposed NMA will be a widebody design, but in order to meet the business case for marketing to a broader set of operators, it will only be offered if Boeing can build it at a cost more typical of a single-aisle design.

Beezhold, formerly 787 airplane level integration team lead before being appointed in 2011 to the newly created role of vice president of processes, tools and affordability, was specifically responsible for cutting the non-recurring costs for future aircraft product developments. At the time, these included the 737 and what would later become the MAX, as well as the “Advanced 777,” which in 2013 was launched as the 777X. Beezhold’s responsibilities also included ensuring all Boeing Commercial Airplanes computing processes and tools supported the entry into service for the 747-8 freighter, and Intercontinental and 787, as well as enabling the planned rate increases for the 737, 767 and 777 programs.

(Guy Norris - Aviation Week / ATWOnline News)

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