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Boeing Lets Executive Go—From a Height

Jim Albaugh is the latest victim in the company’s youth movement

1 min read
Boeing Lets Executive Go—From a Height

Jim Albaugh, credited with overcoming delays in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner program, has just left the company, according to a report in the Financial Times [reg. req’d].

Albaugh, an engineer by training, had headed the company’s commercial business— a position that will now be filled by his subordinate, Ray Conner, who at 57 is five years his junior. It’s the latest in a series of moves by CEO Jim McNerny to fill top jobs with younger men.

Before going to Boeing’s commercial division in 2009, Albaugh worked on the military side, and he was obviously a great believer in unmanned aircraft, or UAVs. So far these machines have been mainly of use to the military, but Albaugh let slip that he thought they had a broader future. That could be called a brave position to take at Boeing, which compared to its great European rival Airbus, has always been considered a pilot’s company.

At a conference held in August in Portland, Ore., Albaugh was asked how long it would take for UAVs to become commercially important.  "A pilotless airliner is going to come; it's just a question of when," he said. "You'll see it in freighters first, over water probably, landing very close to the shore." 

Too bad. When an airliner finally flies with an empty cockpit, the man who won’t be in it won’t be Albaugh.

 

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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