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Leadership Moves, May-Jun 2023
  • 25 Apr 2023 07:58 AM
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Leadership Moves, May-Jun 2023

Ward Joins Wisk


In February, Mark Ward joined Wisk Aero as the company’s Director of Test and Flight Operations. Ward will oversee the ground and flight test activities for both their Generation 5 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, known as Cora, as well as their Generation 6 aircraft. Ward joins Wisk from Sikorsky Aircraft after 15 years, serving most recently as the Chief Test Pilot of their Stratford, Connecticut, aircraft production and test facility. During his time at Sikorsky, he was extensively involved with their research activities in aviation autonomy development. He previously retired from the US Coast Guard as a commander. “Wisk has set a high bar for competing in the eVTOL arena. Their path to design and certification comes from a lengthy pedigree of success. I am confident that the talent Wisk has to conquer the challenges of certifiable electric flight and autonomy will be successful,” said Ward in a statement.

Enstrom Names Tetzlaff


Enstrom Helicopter Corporation announced on Feb. 14 that it appointed Todd Tetzlaff as incoming president and CEO. Tetzlaff first joined the Menominee, Michigan-based helicopter manufacturer as a college student more than three decades ago and previously served as the manager of flight test engineering. He also held engineering roles at Boeing, Raytheon and, most recently, Gulfstream Aerospace, where he served in a variety of roles for over 15 years. In a statement, Tetzlaff said he was convinced to return to Enstrom after it was purchased last year by Chuck Surack. “It is great to be back with my Enstrom family,” said Tetzlaff. He officially assumed the role in April from retiring president Matt Francour.

Diller Goes to Congress; Leigh Leads AFWERX


On March 15, Nathan P. Diller began serving as a Professional Staff Member for the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, responsible for the Defense-wide procurement and research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) budgets, as well as integration across the services, with a focus on national security innovation. He is also responsible for the final integration of the House Appropriations Bill. After 22 years of service in the US Air Force, Diller retired as a Colonel in March. In his last USAF assignment, he was the Director of AFWERX, where he led the strategy and execution of a $1B annual budget across the Air Force and Space Force. In that role he was the Chief Commercialization Officer for the Department of the Air Force and managed the AFVentures, Spark, Prime, SpaceWERX, Small Business Innovation Research, and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.


In his time as director, Diller pioneered the Agility Prime program at AFWERX, which funded flight tests of electric VTOL aircraft, and helped eVTOL developers gain access to Department of Defense resources. Prior to that, he was the Assistant Director of Aeronautics at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). He also served as the Air Force Advisor to the Office of the Secretary of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office and USAF Rapid Capabilities Office. In civil and military roles, he has over 2,900 flight hours across more than 60 aircraft and is a US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified flight instructor (CFI) and airline transport pilot (ATP).

On Dec. 15, Col. Elliot Leigh replaced then-Col. Diller as the Director of AFWERX, the US Air Force’s innovation arm. Leigh, who previously served as the materiel leader for a US Space Force program, joined AFWERX in September 2022 as its military deputy. Leigh now leads 300 military, civilian and contractors while overseeing the implementation of several new initiatives associated with AFWERX’s evolution.

Huerta Joins Joby’s Board


On March 24, Joby Aviation announced the appointment of Michael Huerta to the company’s Board of Directors. Huerta served as Administrator of the FAA between 2013 and 2018, prior to which he was the Acting Administrator for two years. Huerta also serves on the Board of Directors for Delta Air Lines, which partnered with Joby in October 2022.

“The United States is on the verge of a new era of aviation, with electric aircraft like Joby’s transforming how we travel,” said Huerta in a statement. Huerta joins Dan Elwell, a former Acting Administrator of the FAA, on the board of the California-based eVTOL developer.

AutoFlight Selects Frank Stephenson


On March 29, AutoFlight, an eVTOL developer with headquarters in China and Germany, announced that Frank Stephenson Design will serve as Director of Design for the Prosperity I eVTOL aircraft. The design firm, led by Frank Stephenson, has more than 30 years of experience in the automotive industry and is known for its work on brands such as Ferrari, Maserati and McLaren, among others. Stephenson will work on designing the interior and exterior of the vehicle. “During my career, I’ve aspired to create vehicles that are efficient, safe, technically brilliant and beautiful, and I’m hugely excited to now be applying these principles to the eVTOL industry,” said Stephenson.

Overair Appoints Whayne


Overair announced on March 20 that it had appointed Tom Whayne as Chief Financial Officer; in this role he will oversee all financial operations and provide strategic guidance to the company. Whayne brings more than 20 years of experience as an investment banker to the role and previously served as the CFO at OneWeb and as Chief Strategy Officer at Maxar Technologies. “His finance and operating background in orbital platform companies positions him perfectly to help Overair prepare for rapid scaling,” said Ben Tigner, Co-Founder and CEO of Overair, in a statement.

New Executives at Rolls-Royce


On March 31, Rolls-Royce announced a series of changes to its executive leadership team. Helen McCabe will join Rolls-Royce as Chief Financial Officer later this year. McCabe will bring more than 25 years of experience in finance and management roles; she currently serves as the Senior Vice President, Finance for the Customer & Products division of BP. McCabe will be replacing Panos Kakoullis, who will remain in the role and on the Board until at least the end of August.


Rolls-Royce appointed Rob Watson as President of Civil Aerospace. Watson joined Rolls-Royce in 2009 and has worked in a variety of leadership roles at the company.

He last served as president of Rolls-Royce Electrical, in which capacity he worked to build the company’s capabilities in electric aviation. Watson replaces Chris Cholerton in the role, who will now serve as Group President at the company.


Adam Riddle will serve as President of Defence, and Chairman and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America. Riddle previously led the company’s global services operations and served as the Director of Strategy and Future Programs, in which position he helped secure the company’s role in providing the propulsion system for the Bell V-280 Valor. Prior to joining Rolls-Royce, Riddle worked at Boeing and served as an armor officer in the US Army.

These changes come after Rolls-Royce CEO Tufan Erginbilgic, a former BP executive, took over the company on Jan. 1, after being named last July as the planned replacement. The Guardian newspaper quoted Erginbilgic as telling his employees that the company is a “‘burning platform’ that must transform to survive… ‘We underperform every key competitor.’”

Atherton Selected as Bell CEO


Lisa Atherton will serve as CEO of Textron’s Bell Helicopter, the company announced on April 10. Atherton, who was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Bell Helicopter in January (see “Leadership Moves,” Vertiflite, March/April 2023), joined Textron in 2007; she previously served as the CEO of the company’s Textron Systems segment for more than five years, after serving for nearly five years in leadership roles for Bell’s military business, including V-22 Program Manager and Executive Vice President for Military Business. “Under her leadership, Bell will continue its strong execution across military and commercial programs, and I am confident that she will provide the strategic vision to generate future growth for Bell,” said Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly in a statement. Atherton succeeds Mitch Snyder, who retired after seven years as CEO of Bell, and a total of nearly 20 years at the company.

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