Jack Pelton Leaving Cessna

 - May 3, 2011, 11:00 AM

After 11 years at Cessna, and eight of them in the left seat, Jack Pelton is leaving the Textron-owned, Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer. A Textron spokesman told AIN this morning that the decision for Pelton, 52, to retire was a mutual one between Pelton and Textron CEO Scott Donnelly. The news comes on the heels of Donnelly’s pronouncement at a first-quarter teleconference on April 20 that “our underlying performance at Cessna was disappointing.” Cessna’s first-quarter revenues of $556 million were up by $123 million from the same period a year ago, but the division still managed to sustain a larger operating loss–$38 million versus $24 million last year. Pelton joined Cessna in November 2000 as senior v-p of product engineering; he was named president and CEO in 2003 and chairman in 2005. “Under Jack’s leadership, Cessna achieved many significant program and product milestones,” said Donnelly, who has assumed Pelton’s role at Cessna until a successor is named. The Textron spokesman told AIN that “the conversation between Scott and Jack had been going on for some [unspecified] time, and the challenges Cessna has faced in recent years are not the cause of the retirement.” In response to speculation that Bell Helicopter president and CEO John Garrison will be named chairman of an aviation division containing both Bell and Cessna, the Textron spokesman replied, “A search for the new CEO of Cessna is under way, as announced on May 2, and it would be premature to speculate about any candidates who may be considered.”