Larry Loftis, the Boeing vice president in charge of the 787 Dreamliner, will retire at the end of the month after 35 years at the company. Taking over is his deputy, Mark Jenks, who has worked on the 787 since its earliest days.
Boeing has named Mark Jenks as the new head of its 787 Dreamliner program, replacing Larry Loftis who will retire at month’s end.
Jenks is currently Loftis’ deputy and has worked on the 787 since the program began. He led the smooth development of the second model in the Dreamliner family, the 787-9.
That larger model, in contrast to the original 787-8, was on schedule and relatively free of development problems.
His key task now will be to bring down the cost of manufacturing the jet, which still costs on average about $26 million more to build than the sale price.
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He’ll have to do this as Boeing prepares to close down a temporary assembly line in Everett, correspondingly raising production on the other two assembly lines, one in Everett and one in North Charleston, S.C.
At the same time, manufacturing must gear up for a rate increase next year from 10 jets per month to 12.
He must also oversee the introduction of the third and largest member of the Dreamliner family, the 787-10, scheduled to enter service in 2018.
Jenks joined Boeing in 1983 as an engineer.
Before joining the Commercial Airplanes division, he held several leadership roles within Boeing’s defense and space businesses, including with the International Space Station in Huntsville, Ala., and managing the Boeing Helicopters Division Developmental Center in Philadelphia.
Jenks joined the Sonic Cruiser program in 2001 and was responsible for identifying advanced technology requirements on that program.
When the Sonic Cruiser was canceled in favor of what became the 787, Jenks held a variety of key technical and leadership roles on the new jet program.
He led development of the wing, tail and landing gear, and served as vice president of 787 engineering.
From 2009 to 2014, Jenks was in charge of developing the 787 follow-on derivative model, the 787-9, first delivered just over a year ago, and defining and launching the forthcoming 787-10.
Loftis was appointed to take over the 787 program a few months after the delivery of the first Dreamliner to Japan’s All Nippon Airways in fall 2011.
By then, most of the 787’s major development issues were behind it and Loftis led the manufacturing team as it transitioned to regular production.
However, he did face a major crisis in January 2013 when smoking lithium ion batteries inside the jets caused the grounding of the entire worldwide fleet of 787s for three-and-a-half months.
Boeing weathered that storm by redesigning the batteries, and there have been no major mishaps since.
Ten Dreamliners a month roll out of the assembly plants in Everett and North Charleston, and some 290 of the jets are in service worldwide.
Loftis joined Boeing in 1980 as a structural design engineer on the 757 program. Later he was director of engineering for the 737 and from 2007 headed production of the highly successful 777.
Pat Shanahan, senior vice president of airplane programs at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, praised Loftis’ “vision, commitment and true working-together spirit.”