Monday, Aviation Week & Space Technology announced that it named Louis R. Chenevert, chairman and CEO of United Technologies Corp, its 2011 Person of the Year. I feel confident in telling you choosing Chenevert was easy, considering how strong his support was from the AW&ST staff. Anthony "Tony" Velocci, editorial director of the Aviation Week group said succinctly, "He is the person who had the most impact on the industry in 2011."
Oh yeah. No question. Chenevert bet big on development of Pratt & Whitney's geared turbofan [GTF] engine for single-aisle jetliners and won big by landing orders for more than 800 engines for Airbus's next-generation A320NEO airplanes, as well as the Mitsubishi MRJ, Bombardier CSeries and Irkut's MS-21. He acquired also Goodrich, with its broad range of aerospace component manufacturing, for $18.4-billion, thus becoming one of the most important Tier 1 suppliers to jetliner manufacturers. Now UTC is well positioned to reap huge profits from the booming jetliner business.
Building revolutionary engines and many systems parts for new jetliners isn't Chenvert's only focus for UTC's aerospace business. The firm's Sikorsky division also acquired a large part of Eclipse Aerospace last year, with the intentions of building major components for the EA500 / EA550 at its Mielec plant in Poland and restructuring supply chain management. The move will infuse Eclipse with structure, discipline and financial resources, as well as the rock-bottom manufacturing cost structure, that few other aerospace firms could offer a VLJ manufacturer.
Chenevert makes 10 to 20 year plans and then executes on them with extraordinary focus and force. He didn't just casually dabble in GTF technology, for instance, before he committed UTC's vast resources to full-scale development of the new engine. He rigorously studied the market and made his decision based upon comprehensive data.
Similar to making the commitment to GTF, Chenevert didn't make a hasty decision on the Eclipse program. The move was based upon meticulous research. [It also helps that he has a decade-plus long relationship with Vern Raburn, founder of Eclipse Aviation, the firm that originally developed the Eclipse 500.]
Eclipse Aerospace, with UTC's backing, guidance and discipline, now has a much better chance of succeeding than Eclipse Aviation. That fledgling firm had to develop the original aircraft without the backing of an aerospace giant. With Chenevert and UTC behind the Eclipse program, you can expect much stronger financial performance out of the VLJ firm as the economy improves and demand for light jets increases. We'll be watching and reporting on developments.