A recent executive reorganization casts light on the top leadership within Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

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A recent executive reorganization casts light on the top leadership within Boeing Commercial Airplanes and offers clues as to who’s positioned to step up should its chief executive, Alan Mulally, leave if he becomes Boeing’s next CEO, or fails to do so and decides to move on.

The leadership shuffle resulted from the pending retirement of a longtime executive. It came two weeks ago, before there was any inkling of this week’s ouster in Chicago of Boeing Chief Executive Harry Stonecipher.

Jim Morris, until now in charge of the division’s supply chain, and Carolyn Corvi, who has been running the Renton factory, both emerged with enhanced authority and power.

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The reorganization also seemed to consolidate the standing of Mike Cave, the 44-year-old who has been groomed for big things ever since he came to Seattle from McDonnell Douglas following its 1997 merger with Boeing.

Mulally’s memo pointed out that both Corvi and Morris will “support” Cave, vice president/general manager of airplane programs, who will retain profit and loss responsibility for airplane-production programs.

The only other executive with comparable clout to Cave is Mike Bair, 48, who leads the commercial division’s new airplane program, the 787.

If Mulally were to move out, it’s likely one of these two would replace him.

Bair is the engineering choice, his path within the company similar to that of Mulally, who led development of the 777 in the early 1990s.

However, before Mulally ever got to run Boeing Commercial Airplanes, he had left engineering to run another division — the Information, Space and Defense Systems unit then based in Kent. Bair’s experience so far is limited to engineering development.

In contrast, Cave has been deliberately cycled through various roles with an eye to future leadership, according to insiders.

Most of his experience has been in finance and business management, important credentials in Boeing today because cost-saving is a constant mantra.

Cave began his McDonnell Douglas career in St. Louis, then moved to Long Beach, Calif., where in 1990 he turned around the financially troubled C-17 military cargo-jet program. He rose to become chief financial officer in the Long Beach commercial-jet division.

After the merger with Boeing, Mulally brought him to Kent as vice president of finance in his defense-systems unit.

In 2000, Cave became the commercial division’s chief financial officer. Then he ran the Commercial Aviation Services division before taking ultimate charge of all airplane-production programs.

But will there be a gap at the top anytime soon?

Many here are rooting for Mulally to move to Chicago corporate headquarters and take over all of Boeing.

“I think Alan looks like the logical choice, given the situation where we have to move faster than we thought,” said Charles Bofferding, executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA). “He has been president of both commercial airplanes and a defense-side unit.”

And Mulally was once a member of SPEEA.

“He might not be perfect, but he’s our members’ guy,” said Bill Dugovich, SPEEA’s communications director. “He was one of them.”

A February 21 memo from Mulally to all Boeing Commercial Airplanes employees laid out the recent shifts, spurred by the retirement this spring of Hank Queen, the company’s senior engineering executive and longtime liaison with the engineering union.

Jim Morris, 57, replaced Queen as vice president, engineering and manufacturing. Morris previously was in charge of all suppliers, internal and external, that feed the region’s final-assembly plants, including the Wichita parts-fabrication plant recently sold to Canadian company Onex.

Morris’ task was to set supplier cost targets and make sure they were met. Now he’ll lead the combined engineering, quality and manufacturing organizations, focusing on integrating the design and building of aircraft.

In another shift, Carolyn Corvi, 53, was named vice president and general manager, airplane production. This new job encompasses Morris’ former supplier-management role but also adds oversight of all airplane-production activity in the three final-assembly plants in Everett, Renton and Long Beach, Calif.

Corvi has been highly successful in introducing moving-line production efficiencies in the 737 plant in Renton.

Mulally also announced two replacements lower in the leadership hierarchy:

Mark Jenkins, 53, replaced Corvi in Renton as vice president and general manager of 737 airplane production.

And Steve Schaffer replaced Jenkins as vice president, global partners, a new term for the supplier-management and procurement organization.

Schaffer led supplier management on the new 787 program. His replacement has not yet been named.

Separately, another executive due to retire this month is John Quinlivan, 63, in charge of the Everett factory.

Dan Becker has been working in a team with Quinlivan since January 2004 as vice president for 747, 767 and 777 programs. Becker, 53, will now lead Everett operations alone, reporting to Corvi.

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

Stonecipher loses out on some cash, perks

WASHINGTON — Boeing disclosed yesterday that Harry Stonecipher, who was forced out as chief executive over an improper relationship with a company executive, didn’t get any long-term incentives this year and will stop receiving employee benefits and perquisites when he retires.

Stonecipher will get a $2.1 million bonus for 2004, but he isn’t eligible for a prorated bonus for 2005, the aerospace company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Boeing also had planned to award Stonecipher 251,625 performance shares for 2005 before he was ousted by the board Monday, said spokeswoman Anne Eisele.

Such shares vest if the company’s stock price increases over several years.

Boeing said Stonecipher will continue to receive pay under his $1.5 million yearly salary and will keep accruing pension benefits until his April 1 retirement as a company employee.

Boeing announced Monday it had asked Stonecipher to step down as president and chief executive, after he admitted to having a relationship with an employee that the company said could be embarrassing.

Stonecipher also relinquished his board seat.

Dow Jones/The Associated Press and Bloomberg News