Handoffs: Hansel Tookes to James Schuster

 - May 28, 2008, 8:03 AM

The Premier I and Hawker Horizon programs were already far behind schedule when Hansel Tookes, 53, became chairman and CEO of Raytheon Aircraft in August 2000. These programs were plagued by further delays under Tookes’ command, although the Premier I finally received certification on March 23 last year. But a few days later, Tookes announced that a slowdown in overall sales and deliveries would mean 10 percent of the firm’s Kansas workforce would be cut. Three months later, in June last year, Raytheon Co. tapped James Schuster, 48, to replace Tookes after only 10 months on the job. Tookes was appointed president of Raytheon International, where he heads international expansion.

Schuster was brought to Wichita from Waco, Texas, where he had been president of Raytheon Aircraft Integration Systems, a facility that had its own troubles in connection with serious delays in completing green Boeing Business Jets. He immediately went to work on restructuring Raytheon Aircraft, replacing his key managers. He moved his new management team from the fourth floor of the company’s administrative office building back to offices near the factory in hopes of improving management/employee contact. But soon Schuster had to announce even more layoffs and report that the company would curtail production of King Airs and Beechjets.

Just five months later, after Raytheon Aircraft disclosed it had delivered nearly 30 percent fewer turbine airplanes (147) in the first three quarters compared with 207 turbine airplanes delivered in the same period in 2000, Schuster replaced his managers with a new interim team. He said the new team is designed to improve the company’s business and customer support. “Permanent appointments to fill these positions will be made at the appropriate time. I wanted to send a message that Raytheon Aircraft is very serious about making improvements swiftly all across the company.”