PEOPLE : Joel Smith Leaves McDonnell Douglas

Joel D. Smith, one of the key executives responsible for implementing team-oriented manufacturing techniques at troubled Douglas Aircraft Co., has left the company.

Smith, 50, has chosen to leave the McDonnell Douglas unit in Long Beach to complete an advanced degree at Pepperdine University and will not return to Douglas, spokesman Don Hanson said Friday.

Smith joined McDonnell Douglas in July, 1988, after working as a United Auto Workers representative at the New United Motor Manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif. That factory, a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, makes extensive use of teaming techniques.

Smith was transferred to Long Beach in early 1989 and has been the management's chief spokesman for its "total quality management system," designed to cut costs by reducing reworking during assembly of transport planes.

But Douglas, hampered by the start-up costs of its new MD-11 tri-jet, has been a big money loser for the company, posting losses of $222 million last year and $117 million this year.

Hanson said that Smith's departure is not related to problems at Douglas and that Douglas remains committed to the "total quality" system.

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