Cessna Head Retires

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Cessna appears to be in no hurry to fill its third "leadership" vacancy in 16 months. Last week, longtime Cessna exec Charlie Johnson announced he was retiring for undisclosed personal reasons, although he told The Wichita Eagle his recent health problems played a role. Johnson, 60, has worked for Cessna for 24 years and took over leadership of Cessna in March when longtime chairman Russ Meyer assumed a non-executive position after filling in for CEO Gary Hay. Senior VP Jack Pelton has been running things since August when Johnson went on sick leave and no changes are currently planned. "Jack's doing a fine job with the senior leadership team," said spokeswoman Marilyn Richwine. Johnson began his aviation career as an F-105 pilot in Vietnam. After the war, he became Arnold Palmer's personal pilot before joining Gates Learjet. In 1979, he was lured to Cessna by Meyer and rose through the middle management ranks to become chief operating officer. Johnson's departure shouldn't cause any sort of management problems at Cessna, according to an industry analyst. Despite the tumultuous times in the bizjet industry, Peter Arment, of JSA Research, told the Eagle that Cessna has plenty of depth in senior management and plenty of people who have weathered similar storms. Cessna has laid off 3,500 people and more cuts are possible if it expands outsourcing of work.