Apple Board Adds Ex-Boeing Official to Boost Transport Chops

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Apple Inc.’s board is elevating its industrial chops by adding former Boeing Co. executive James Bell.

An accountant by training who exudes a calm confidence, Bell helped restore investor and customer trust as Boeing was ravaged by scandal in the last decade. His career at the world’s largest plane manufacturer spanned 38 years and included a stint as interim chief executive officer.

“James brings a wealth of global, financial and industrial experience from his successful career at Boeing,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement Thursday.

Bell’s background in aviation could also bolster Apple’s transportation expertise as the iPhone maker mulls a foray into autos. Apple rival Google Inc. burnished its board’s bona fides in transportation last year when it appointed Alan Mulally, a former CEO of Ford Motor Co. and ex-Boeing executive.

Google has embarked on a well-publicized experiment with driverless cars, while Apple has assembled a several-hundred-person team to begin work on a vehicle.

The first African-American on Apple’s board, Bell became Boeing’s finance chief after an Air Force purchasing scandal sent a predecessor to jail. He later served as interim chief executive officer when then-CEO Harry Stonecipher was ousted for having an affair.

Lew Platt, then Boeing’s chairman, said not long afterward that the board should consider Bell for the top job.

Bell was raised in the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles and attended California State University at Los Angeles. He joined Rockwell International Corp. in 1972 and Boeing two decades later when Boeing acquired Rockwell.

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