Jack Pelton Steps Down As CEO From Cessna Aircraft


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Jack Pelton Steps Down As CEO From Cessna Aircraft

By Mike Mitchell

May 3, 2011 - Textron Inc. announced on Monday that Jack J. Pelton, chairman, president and CEO of its Cessna Aircraft unit, has retired from the company, and that a search for his successor is underway. Textron Chairman and CEO Scott C. Donnelly will run the business until a successor is named. 

The Cessna Aircraft Company is an airplane manufacturing corporation headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, USA. Their main products are general aviation aircraft. Although they are the most well known for their small, piston-powered aircraft, they also produce business jets. 

Jack J. Pelton is a former CEO of Cessna Aircraft Company. Before becoming the CEO of Cessna, Pelton was Cessna's Senior Vice President of Engineering. Before joining Textron in 2000, Pelton was Senior Vice President of Engineering and Programs at Fairchild Dornier. Prior to this, he worked at Douglas Aircraft for over two decades.

Soon after Jack Pelton was named CEO of Cessna, it was revealed that his resume included references to education received from Hamilton University, which 60 Minutes news program discovered was a diploma mill. Neither his undergraduate or graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering were earned from an accredited school. Temporarily embarrassed by the revelation, Textron released a statement proclaiming that Pelton was chosen for his 30 year long career in leadership and not for his faked diplomas. 

Pelton testified in favor of a property tax increase to build an aviation training facility that would benefit Cessna at an August 9, 2006 Sedgwick County Commission meeting. At a December 12, 2006 meeting of the Wichita City Council, Cessna applied for industrial revenue bonds that include an exemption from paying property tax on property purchased with IRB proceeds. 

Pelton joined Cessna in November 2000 as senior vice president, Product Engineering and oversaw Cessna's engineering and product development activities, including new aircraft development, design, experimental and production test flight, certifications and product improvements for all Cessna models. He was named president and chief executive officer in 2003 and chairman in 2005. 

Commenting on Pelton?s departure, Textron Chairman and CEO Scott C. Donnelly said, ?Under Jack?s leadership, Cessna achieved many significant program and product milestones and strengthened its position as a thought leader in the aviation industry. We appreciate Jack?s efforts and wish him the best in his future endeavors.?


Cessna has suffered notably during the late-2000s recession, laying off more than half its workforce between January 2009 and September 2010. In early June 2009 Cessna announced that it would lay-off an additional 700 salaried employees, bringing the total number of lay-offs to 7600 or more than half the company's workers.  

In September 2010 Cessna CEO Jack Pelton announced a further 700 lay-offs, bringing the total to 8,000 jobs lost. Pelton indicated this round of layoffs was due to a "stalled  lackluster economy" and noted that while the number of orders cancelled for jets has been decreasing new orders have not met expectations. Pelton added "our strategy is to defend and protect our current markets while investing in products and services to secure our future, but we can do this only if we succeed in restructuring our processes and reducing our costs. 

In December 2009 the company announced that it will close its three Columbus, Georgia manufacturing facilities between June 2010 and December 2011. The closures will include the new 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) facility that was opened in August 2008 at a cost of US$25M, plus the McCauley Propeller plant. These closures will result in total job losses of 600 in Georgia. Some of the work will be relocated to Cessna's Independence, Kansas or Mexican facilities.

Cessna's parent company Textron posted a loss of US$8M in the first quarter of 2010, largely driven by continuing low sales at Cessna, which were down 44%. Cessna's workforce remained 50% laid-off and CEO Jack Pelton stated that he expected the recovery to be long and slow.

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