A day after company co-founder Omer Bar-Yohay stepped down as Eviation’s CEO, his temporary replacement said the timing of the leadership change was consistent with company plans.
With the first flight of its unique electric airplane test article just weeks away, Eviation interim CEO Gregory Davis told FLYING Tuesday that Bar-Yohay’s exit as CEO had been decided by the company’s board of directors last December. However, board members are months away from hiring Bar-Yohay’s replacement.
Shortly after Monday’s announcement, Bar-Yohay said he was caught by surprise—although he was aware that he would be stepping down eventually.
“I was surprised by the timing that the company decided to announce this,” Bar-Yohay said Monday. “This comes at the end of a longstanding dispute between myself and our main shareholder. It is part of the plan, but the timing this morning was a surprise to me.”
December’s board vote to make the change was unanimous, Davis said, and “the plan was pretty well in line with the timing” that took place Monday. “I can’t speak to the details of how surprised Omer was, or not. I do know he was aware of the transition plan going back to December.”
Davis, who served as Eviation’s president prior to this new interim role, said the search is underway for a permanent CEO to lead the private company. Eviation has received signals from interested potential candidates and the board of directors has some candidates in mind. The new CEO will be hired within months, he said.
“Eviation is doing its due diligence,” Davis said. “The company has contracted with a world-class aerospace recruitment firm to make sure that the best permanent CEO is selected for the role. The focus is on finding somebody who has the right pedigree and background in aircraft manufacturing and servicing aircraft in a production environment dealing with customers and so on to fill that role.”
Bar-Yohay said he would remain with Eviation as a board member going forward. When asked about Bar-Yohay’s comment that the leadership change surrounded a dispute with a shareholder, Davis said he could not discuss details surrounding Eviation’s board members or speak to Bar-Yohay’s direct involvement with Alice, as a matter of company policy.
“The board of directors certainly gets reporting on development of the aircraft,” Davis said. “The board has a governance role to play, but not in terms of the development of the aircraft.”
When it comes to wrangling activist shareholders, Davis said, “any CEO needs to be able to respect all the stakeholders. You need to be able to do all of it to be effective.”
Weeks Away from First Flight
All this adds to the mix of factors surrounding the upcoming first flight of Alice, as engineers and test flight crews focus on making sure the aircraft is in perfect working order.
The airplane, which is powered by two rear-mounted MagniX electric motors, has been designed to eventually seat up to nine passengers and two pilots. Its expected range is 440 nm, with a maximum cruise speed of 250 knots and an MTOW of 16,500 pounds, with a maximum payload of 2,500 pounds. Alice has been undergoing taxi testing and power tests at Arlington Municipal Airport (KAWO), north of Seattle.
Davis, who joined Eviation in May 2021, has extensive aerospace and international business development experience, including roles with Viking Air Limited and Marshall Aerospace. He said he’s been on site since the airplane’s assembly for all major milestones surrounding Alice’s development, including every test to date.
“We’re really close,” Davis said. “A few weeks.”
When pressed about the fact that Eviation has been claiming for months that Alice’s first flight was near, Davis said: “Part of it is continuous optimism. Things come up. That’s why you test.”