Aug 26, 2011
MONTREAL - Gary R. Scott
, who has led Bombardier
program from its inception, is retiring.
The Montreal-based transport firm said that the president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft was leaving the company officially on Oct. 1 for family reasons.
Various sources confirmed that Scott's wife is gravely ill and that he is returning to the family home base in the Seattle area.
Scott, a longtime Boeing executive who later worked at CAE Inc., another Montreal aviation firm, joined Bombardier in 2004, four years before the CSeries program was officially launched.
His departure comes as a surprise to the aviation world. At the June Paris air show, Scott was working seemingly around the clock, dealing with the media, meeting with suppliers, hosting news conferences and ceremonies announcing orders for Bombardier's future CSeries - all the while wearing his trademark corner smile.
Widely viewed in the aerospace industry as a steady and knowledgeable hand, Scott said in a statement that "the CSeries aircraft program is tracking well, and with the program at this advanced stage, I feel very comfortable leaving it in the capable hands of my colleagues so I can devote more time to my family."
Scott, 60, leaves as the upcoming aircraft, the boldest gamble in Bombardier's quarter-century history in aerospace, has started again collecting a modest spate of orders since June, before, during and after the Paris air show.
The CSeries is due to fly for the first time in about one year, with deliveries scheduled for late 2013. Addison Schonland of aviation consultancy Innovation Analysis Group (IAG), said that "succession is obviously the next big issue."
Schonland said that early possibilities from inside the company to replace Scott at the head of the Commercial Aircraft Program are "two superb choices," Benjamin Boehm and Chet Fuller.
Boehm was Scott's second in-command from the beginning until recently and is now vice-president of international business at Bombardier Aerospace, while Fuller is senior vice-president, sales, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. Until a permanent replacement is appointed, Bombardier Aerospace president Guy C. Hachey will head the Commercial Aircraft unit.
"Gary had - has - a very strong team underneath him," said Schonland. "It's not a one-man band. Given his (collegial) personality, he's going to have exactly that - a collegial approach to business. ... It's not like at some companies where there's the star and everybody else is in fifth place."
The strong bench will allay prospective airline clients' possible concerns, he said.
David Tyerman, an analyst with Toronto brokerage Canaccord Genuity, called the move a loss for Bombardier.
"Gary seems to have a lot of experience and credentials in the industry and you hate to lose that.
"Clearly, when you're the head of a unit that develops an aircraft, so intimately involved in its development, yes, it's a loss. ... One less senior person working on the program at this point to bring orders in will affect your abilities in the short term," Tyerman said.
"But I gotta believe that Guy Hachey and (Bombardier president) Pierre Beaudoin (who was previously president of the aerospace group), are probably pretty involved (in the CSeries development and sales campaigns). Ben (Boehm) has also been deeply involved for a long time and Chet (Fuller) also has lots of experience.
"But who knows?" if either will step into Scott's shoes, he added. Schonland and Tyerman both said the unexpected exit does not have an immediate impact on a large order that Delta Air Lines is weighing for smaller planes like the CSeries.
"But (Scott) did have a lot of experience in (aircraft) manufacturing and development and the loss of such a key person in that process will have some effect."
Schonland said that "just because the man has a situation doesn't mean he's not going to be at the other end of a phone call."
In a statement, Hachey said: "Gary has been an incredible asset to our organization and, through his leadership, has helped us develop gamechanging products and a strong international customer base. We wish him and his family well, and thank him for his valuable contribution to Bombardier and to the aerospace industry."
Source: Montreal Gazette