Kenneth Sanger

Kenneth Sanger

Vice President and General Manager, 787 Airplane Development, BOEING COMMERCIAL AIRPLANES
BSAAE '81, MSAAE '83

For exceptional operational oversight in managing critical and highly challenging Boeing aircraft design and development initiatives from initial concept through flight test, receiving unprecedented accolades on the modernization of airplane avionics and fuel efficiency.

Kenneth Sanger left big shoes to fill at Boeing last year. Before his 2018 retirement, he had been responsible for the design, development, production and certification management, including profit and loss, of the all-new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner.

Sanger assumed his first executive leadership role with Boeing in 2004 and took on increasing leadership and technical responsibility in each subsequent position. In his final role as vice president and general manager for Boeing’s 787 commercial airplane development, Sanger led a global team composed of internal staff and suppliers throughout North America, Asia, Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

Sanger says that among the valuable benefits he derived from his years at Purdue, learning the importance of planning and preparation was key: “Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.’ Lincoln was making a point as to the importance of preparation. Purdue’s engineering curriculum and faculty challenged me to show up for every class, do every assignment and every test, which translated into my detailed preparedness throughout my professional career.”

Sanger says he is grateful for the engineering faculty who took the time to invest in their students despite the demands that leadership in their research fields placed on them. He adds that the faculty “made my time at Purdue some of the best years of my life.”

Among others, he names Terry Weisshaar, professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronautics as being a major influence. “Dr. Weisshaar sponsored another student and me in graduate-level research as undergrads,” he says. “That led to my first business trip before I had even graduated from Purdue.”

That experience and a co-op position were formative for Sanger. “Although I did not have the highest GPA, I still managed to get accepted into the co-op program and worked at McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis,” Sanger recalls. “I learned there how engineering translated into airplane production and services, and as a result I developed my first interest in program management.”

Sanger says “the importance of service” is another lifelong lesson learned while at Purdue that he has carried with him: “I was introduced to the University Lutheran Church and the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) student chapter. I ushered in church and got involved in AIAA student chapter events. My faith and my affiliation with the AIAA have given me so many opportunities over the past 40 years to serve others on multiple levels.”

Challenge the team to play bigger than they think they can and their success will be that much greater.”

Kenneth Sanger

Career Highlights

2015-2018 Vice President and General Manager, 787 Airplane Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (retired)
2011-2015 Director, 787 Airframe Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
2010-2011 Director, Special Projects, Strategic Missile Defense Systems, Boeing Defense, Space & Security
2006-2010 Director, European Site Missile Defense Program, Boeing Defense, Space & Security
2004-2006 Director, C-17 Air Vehicle Operations, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems


1981 BSAAE, Purdue University
1983 MSAAE, Purdue University
1992 MBA, San Diego State University