California-based OPENER has announced that Ben Diachun will be stepping into the role of Chief Executive Officer as the company moves toward bringing its BlackFly fixed-wing, all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) ultralight to market. The position of CEO was previously held by OPENER founder Marcus Leng, who will move to overseeing “next-generation manufacturing and international operations” as chairman of the board. The BlackFly is designed to fly at speeds of 80-plus MPH with a range of 40 miles. To maintain its qualification as an ultralight, the BlackFly is performance-limited in the U.S. to a 25-mile range and top speed of 62 MPH.
“OPENER is pioneering a new industry with BlackFly,” said Diachun. “I am truly honored to lead the company into production, establish sales initiatives, and secure our market position. We have the opportunity to show the world that three-dimensional transportation is real. A big part of my job is to seize this vast opportunity and successfully bring a safe and exciting flying vehicle to market.”
Prior to joining OPENER in May 2019 as the company’s president, Diachun spent 16 years at Scaled Composites where he held positions including design engineer, project engineer, flight test engineer, chase pilot, business development manager, vice president of engineering and company president. Diachun holds a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. Along with being credited with taking 15 new aircraft types from concept to first flight at Scaled Composites, he was part of the team that received the 2004 Collier Trophy for the development of SpaceShipOne. He joined the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) board of directors in 2018 and is a commercial pilot with instrument, multi-engine and seaplane ratings.
Diachun discussed BlackFly and joining OPENER with AVweb in the podcast below, which was recorded at AirVenture 2019.