Dave Bowman, who was the company's C-17 program manager, is the new vice president for tankers. Boeing officials say corporate moves affecting the tanker program are routine, but in this heated atmosphere nothing is routine, even if it's planned and rational.
Boeing has changed how the tanker VP reports. Bowman will report directly to Boeing Integrated Defense Systems President Jim Albaugh and to John Lockard, the chief operating officer. That should let Bowman operate a bit more nimbly than the usual Boeing corporate culture would allow.
During his first venture under fire in the tanker competition -- otherwise known as a Wednesday afternoon press conference -- Bowman was clearly wary of the enormous attention the competition has attracted but resolute in his belief that he knows his customer (Air Mobility Command).
"I trust them and I believe they trust me," Bowman said.
Bowman and his colleagues at Boeing have clearly heard the critique that its plane does not suit the Air Force's concept of operations as well as does the Northrop Grumman plane. Bowman and Chris Raymond, vice president of business development for IDS, spoke repeatedly of the CONOPS during the press conference. They seemed to be raising questions about whether the Air Force might change its approach so I asked them if they expected the service to do so. The unequivocal response was "no," although Bowman also said that all the documents that have gone into the tanker process -- not just the upcoming amended request for proposal -- should be considered when evaluating Boeing's offer.
Bowman has great experience for this job. The C-17 was not always the easiest program to manage and he reportedly worked the Hill quite effectively.
Bowman's predecessor, Mark McGraw, is moving over as head of training systems and services.