Story by The Wall Street Journal

Boeing Co. on Tuesday said chief executive W. James McNerney will step down on July 1, to be succeeded by chief operating officer Dennis Muilenburg.

Mr. McNerney, 65, has reached Boeing’s mandatory retirement age. He will continue his role as chairman of the board and work as an employee until he retires at the end of February 2016. The move comes earlier than some expected. The Chicago-based aerospace company has its cenentary next year and some said earlier that they thought he might seek board permission to stay longer. He has been chief executive since 2005.

Mr. Muilenburg, 51, has been chief operating officer and president since 2013. He has worked at Boeing for three decades, including as president and CEO of Boeing Defense Space & Security unit and as president of the Global Services & Support business. At the time of his 2013 promotion, a McNerney acquaintance called him “the heir apparent,” while others familiar with the matter added that his succession to CEO was “the most likely event.”

“Dennis is an extremely capable, experienced and respected leader with an immense passion for our company, our people, and our products and services,” said Mr. McNerney.

Earlier in June, Boeing said that near-term growth in airline traffic will sustain record jetliner production output and more than double the global fleet over the next two decades. However, it then trimmed its long-term forecast for global economic growth and air travel slightly from last year to reflect recent weakness in emerging markets.Boeing’s annual market forecast pointed to the global commercial fleet rising to nearly 43,600 aircraft in 2034 from 21,600 in 2015.

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