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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sikorsky President Jeff Pino to Retire as Industry Undergoes ‘Change in Tone'

UTC Names Mick Maurer to succeed Pino as Sikorsky Aircraft's next president.

By Andrew Parker, Editor-in-Chief

Sikorsky Aircraft President Jeffrey Pino—who has led the company during a period that includes significant developmental and engineering achievements such as the X2 technology demonstrator, subsequent military S-97 Raider and heavy lift CH-53K—is planning to retire, effective July 1. Sikorsky parent United Technologies Corp. (UTC) has named Mick Maurer, president of Sikorsky’s Military Systems unit, to succeed Pino. Maurer has worked for UTC since 1989, joining Sikorsky in 2000 as vice president of enterprise planning and development. The pair will work together over the next two months during a transition period. Pino will continue to assist Sikorsky on a consulting basis after July 1.

A retired Master Army Aviator, Pino spent 17 years working at Bell Helicopter before joining Sikorsky in 2002, working as senior vice president for corporate strategy, marketing and commercial programs until becoming president in 2006. UTC Chairman & CEO Louis Chênevert noted that Pino has “positioned Sikorsky well for the future,” in a statement, specifically pointing to the X2, S-97 and CH-53K.

Pino at Heli-Expo 2012. Photo by Ernie Stephens, Editor-at-Large

During last week’s American Helicopter Society (AHS) Forum in Fort Worth, Pino offered a view of the past and future to an “esteemed group of folks” during a CEO panel that also featured AgustaWestland vice president of research and development James Wang, Bell President & CEO John Garrison, Boeing’s Phil Dunford, vice president/general manager and operating executive for its Military Systems unit, Eurocopter President & CEO Lutz Bertling and Lockheed Martin’s Dan Schultz, vice president of ship and aviation systems.

“It was five or six years ago—probably my first time as president at this forum, and there was a lot of the same conversation,” Pino said, adding that the industry was in the Comanche run-up. But “I think I’ve heard a change in tone,” he continued. "I commend my partners in industry for some of the things that have been going on—it’s been very, very special.” Was this a veiled swan song?

He also provided a big-picture glimpse into his tenure at Sikorsky by first explaining that engineers “like to chase every shiny object out there.” The company “decided many years ago that we were going to pick three shiny objects that were really shiny and really jangle-y—and we picked speed, autonomy (or optionally piloted) and safety awareness.” Back then, Sikorsky’s management told the engineers that “we’ll all have enough money to do evolutionary stuff, why don’t we decide to go after some revolutionary concepts?” Pino then looked over to the Eurocopter CEO. “Lutz, with all due respect, I think you’re right—I think commercial, in many cases, will lead military—which certainly is 180 degrees from what this industry used to look like.”

Sikorsky “spent $50 million and built this X2 demonstrator, and it was a great time, we got some accolades for it. But the fact it, as a military person, I would not accept the data yet. It was one of those projects that was like that. That was the “X,” and from the U.S. government side, we’re not moving from Xs to Ys, and we’re not paying to move from Xs to Ys. I think finally I’m hearing our team start to say, ‘Maybe we move to Ys on our own dime,’ and frankly, that’s what Sikorsky decided to do on the S-97 Raider.”

Pino encouraged his competitors to “invest in the future, instead of waiting for [government] to fund it. On behalf of the 17,000 employees at Sikorsky Aircraft, we’re chasing three shiny objects.” Now it’s Maurer’s turn at the controls.

Look for more in tomorrow’s Rotor & Wing Collective.

More coverage from Heli-Expo 2012: Pino's View From the Top

From our August 2011 interview: Sikorsky's Comet: Boldly Funding the Future

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