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Leadership Moves: Vertiflite Sep-Oct 2020
  • 31 Aug 2020 09:32 AM
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Leadership Moves: Vertiflite Sep-Oct 2020


Thacker Adds Bell Commercial Remit
Michael Thacker, who joined Bell in February 2017 as the executive vice president of Technology and Innovation, has taken over additional responsibilities after the retirement of Susan Griffin, EVP for Commercial Business. As of June 2020, Thacker’s new title is EVP of Innovation and Commercial Business. In addition to leading Bell’s core engineering team and providing strategic direction for designing, developing and integrating technologies for use in Bell’s current and next-generation products, Thacker is now also responsible for all commercial programs, new product development, global sales, and customer support and services. Before joining Bell, Thacker was the senior vice president of engineering at Textron Aviation, where he was responsible for the engineering efforts of the Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker product lines.

Covile, CTO, Volocopter
Coville (Volocopter)

Coville Replaces Boelens as Volocopter CTO
Dr. Arnaud Coville, who had joined Volocopter in May as the head of development for its VoloCity electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) production aircraft, was named the company’s chief technical officer in July. Coville replaced former CTO Jan-Hendrik Boelens decision to step down. Volocopter stated that “Boelens leaves the company upon his own wishes and will continue consulting at Volocopter until the end of the year to enable a smooth transition to Arnaud Coville.”

Coville, who has a PhD in automatic control and robotics, has extensive experience as a leader and engineer in new aircraft development. Over nearly three decades in the aviation industry, he has been actively involved in developing helicopters (the Airbus H135), regional jets like the CRJ700 and 728, and large aircraft like the A350 and A380, working for Safran, Fairchild Dornier, Diehl Avionik, Airbus Helicopters and other companies.

Moore & Samson (Vertical Aerospace)

Vertical Aerospace Strengthens Engineering Team
Bristol, England-based eVTOL developer Vertical Aerospace (see “Electric VTOL News,” pg. 56) has hired Dean Moore as lead flight test engineer and Eric Samson as head of engineering. Moore, formerly the UK lead flight test engineer at Boeing, is responsible for leading the flight test campaign for the first certifiable aircraft developed by Vertical. This involves putting together the operations manual for flight testing, developing strategic plans to help deliver flight test efforts and maintaining alignment throughout the teams. With 22 years of experience, Moore has worked on a variety of aircraft types including rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. He established and supervised the Boeing UK test team in delivering test activities across a range of Chinook programs. 

Vertical said that Sampson will be responsible for continuing to build a world-class engineering and design organization, applying best practice processes and tools: “Eric will be crucial to ensure the correct competencies and industry-leading talent are aligned to develop, test and certify the most technologically advanced eVTOL and aircraft systems.” Sampson held various technical and leadership roles throughout his nearly 30-year career. At Gulfstream Aerospace, he held roles from structural design engineer to project engineering manager, participating in five major programs (G550, G450, G650, G500 and G600). More recently, at Jet Aviation, he was responsible for reorganizing the engineering structure, implementing a growing range of engineering services and increasing the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) scope of approval.

Remo Gerber Lilium
Remo (Lilium)

Lilium Leadership Changes 
Lilium, the Munich-based startup developing its five-seat, all-electric Lilium Jet eVTOL (see “Lilium Draws Searing Publicity, Then Soaring Investment,” pg. 46, announced two leadership changes on Aug. 4. The company’s current chief financial officer, Christopher Delbrück, will leave the Lilium team later this year for family reasons, with a search underway for a replacement CFO. In addition, Lilium’s chief commercial officer, Dr. Remo Gerber, has taken on the wider responsibility as chief operating officer.

Meanwhile, former Airbus employee Audrey Tauran was hired as the company’s 500th employee. Tauran serves as Lilium as VP of Procurement, bringing with her more than 15 years of experience in various engineering and procurement roles at Airbus, most recently as VP of Procurement, Structure and Material at Airbus Defense and Space. Commenting on the milestone, Daniel Wiegand said, “In a little over five years we’ve gone from four co-founders to a team of over 500 talented and enthusiastic ‘Lilians’, bringing experience from a huge range of leading engineering organizations from SpaceX and Rolls-Royce, to Formula 1 teams and NASA.”

Johnson, Wisk
Johnson (Wisk)

Eric Johnson to Lead Wisk Engineering
On Aug. 4, Wisk Aero, LLC, announced that Eric Johnson had joined the company as senior vice president of Engineering, serving on the company’s Executive Leadership Team. Reporting directly to Wisk’s CEO, Gary Gysin, Johnson is responsible for executing the company’s technical vision and roadmap, overseeing the development of current and future aircraft, and directing Wisk’s software, hardware, systems engineering, flight test, certification and product management teams. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and New Zealand, Wisk is an independent joint venture, backed by The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation, developing its two-seat eVTOL air taxi, Cora (see “VFS Streams Full-Speed Ahead,” pg. 54).

Prior to this role, Johnson was a chief engineer supporting Boeing NeXt, where he directed the engineering development and product safety for a joint team. Johnson also served as product development chief engineer for the Boeing 777X program and chief engineer and airplane level integration team leader for the 777-8 program, and has held multiple management and engineering positions in airplane safety, electromagnetic effects, flight sciences, flight test, certification and sales. 

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