Vertiflite May/June 2019

Opener Names Ben Diachun President

Opener, the developer of the BlackFly electric Personal Aerial Vehicle (ePAV) for consumer travel, has appointed a president, Ben Diachun, the company announced on April 2. He will report to Marcus Leng, Opener founder and CEO. Diachun comes from Scaled Composites; Burt Rutan lauded Diachun, stating, “Ben Diachun’s spark of genius enhances any company he joins…. As an engineer, Ben played a key role in the creation of 14 revolutionary experimental aircraft, and as the President of Scaled Composites, he developed a talented team, explored new innovations and ensured our growth.” The Opener BlackFly is a single-seat ultralight eVTOL; the latest model, the BlackFly v3, made its first unmanned flight in October 2017.

Ben Diachun, President, Opener.
Ben Diachun, President, Opener.

New Leadership at Terrafugia

In February, Terrafugia’s parent company Zhejiang Geely replaced its management team. The company announced on April 8 that Dr. Chao “Charlie” Jing was appointed as the new CEO of Terrafugia. According to the press release, “Mr. Jing is a professional business leader with extensive experience working in international companies in the US, China, Philippines, Singapore, Belgium and Japan. With Mr. Jing as the new CEO and an expanded focus to include near-term market opportunities, the company is poised for commercial success in air mobility.” Jing spent 11 years at Honeywell Aerospace and six years at Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). He has a B.S. in Industrial Management from Nanjing University and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado.

Dr. Chao “Charlie” Jing, CEO, Terrafugia.
Dr. Chao “Charlie” Jing, CEO, Terrafugia.

Jing replaces Chris Jaran, who had been the CEO since July 2017, as part of the Geely acquisition. Co-founder Dr. Carl Dietrich, who was the prior CEO and continued serving as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), left the company in April. In addition, Huaibing Wang was appointed as Terrafugia’s new Chief Financial Officer. Wang has over 20 years of experience in various finance leadership positions in both automotive and industrial businesses.

FlightGlobal reported on April 5 that, “Other US posts axed included back office functions, as well as the certification and business development departments and the research and development facility in Petaluma, California. US-based headcount is falling by around two-thirds to roughly 60 employees.” Terrafugia expects to certificate its fixed-wing Transition this year, and is developing a multi-modal TF-2 “lift + push” eVTOL system to transport passengers and cargo.

Founded in 1986 by Li Shufu, Geely Holding, headquartered in Hangzhou, China, launched its automotive business in 1997. Its other brands include Geely Auto, Lynk & Co, the London Taxi Company, Volvo, Polestar, Proton and Lotus.

Lilium Appoints First CFO

Munich-based Lilium announced on April 17 that Christopher Delbrück will join Lilium as its first Chief Financial Officer (CFO) later this year. Delbrück was previously an executive with E.ON, which runs one of the world’s largest investor-owned electric utility service providers, and its spinoff Uniper SE. There, Delbrück played an instrumental role as CFO in the listing of the company in 2016, as well as in the subsequent tripling of its share price. The five-seat Lilium Jet is expected to fly later this year, according to the company.

Christopher Celbrueck, new CFO of Lilium as of April 2019.
Christopher Celbrueck, CFO, Lilium.

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