By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Jack Pelton, the current chairman, president and CEO of Cessna, is retiring, parent company Textron announced on Monday. Scott Donnelly, the CEO of Textron, is now running Cessna, though Pelton doesn't officially retire until June 1. Donnelly, who is based in Providence, R.I., has already been spending a lot of time in Wichita, Textron spokesman David Sylvestre told AVweb on Tuesday, and will be spending more time there until Pelton's successor is named. "We are actively conducting a search, and looking at both internal and external candidates," Sylvestre said. The company is seeing signs of recovery, he said, and the new leader at Cessna "would have to capitalize on that." Cessna's recent quarterly report showed a loss of $38 million, which Donnelly called "disappointing."
Pelton joined Cessna in November 2000 as a senior vice president in charge of engineering and product development. He was named president and chief executive officer in 2003 and chairman in 2005. He oversaw the development of the Mustang jet and the Skycatcher light sport aircraft, and was active in a number of initiatives to promote general aviation overall. "Jack Pelton has been an exceptional leader for and friend to the entire general aviation community," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. "I am certain that he will continue to be a powerful advocate for GA and look forward to future opportunities to work together." Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, told AVweb that Pelton has been a "tireless" industry leader. "We owe him a huge debt of gratitude," Bunce said. "He has been one of our most effective spokesmen for general aviation, always willing to travel and speak to policy makers and regulators on issues affecting both manufacturers and operators. He has passionately promoted a positive perception of business aviation while also tackling the tough issues associated with air traffic modernization and aircraft certification."
EAA Chairman Tom Poberezny told AVweb that Pelton has been an "outstanding" leader. "As an aircraft owner and active pilot, an engineer and a manager, he grasped the entire spectrum of aviation," Poberezny said. "That's a unique blend, a total package. I hope he stays engaged in the community." NBAA also weighed in: "Jack Pelton's leadership at Cessna has been noteworthy not only for the new products he helped bring to the marketplace, but also for the knowledgeable perspective he provided as a champion for the industry's
policy priorities. The tirelessness he brought to his advocacy work in
Washington was demonstrated in his contributions the Department of
Transportation's Future of Aviation Advisory Committee, and in numerous other important policy working groups. We thank Jack for his valuable service to NBAA and the entire industry, we wish him well in his future endeavors and we look forward to working with him in the years to come."