Robinson Helicopter Co. Names New CEO

The move is only the second such change in the company’s 50-year history.

David Smith has been named Robinson Helicopter Co.’s third president and CEO. [Courtesy: Robinson Helicopter Co.]

Robinson Helicopter Co. announcedTuesday that former vice president of operations David Smith has been named its president and CEO.

Smith succeeds Kurt Robinson, who has served in the position since 2010. Smith is only the third to serve as president and CEO of Robinson, which was founded in 1973 by Kurt’s father, Frank. Kurt will be moving to an advisory role with the company and remain on its board of directors. The leadership transition is effective immediately.

“Watching and helping our company grow from our living room to become a global leader in the helicopter industry is a fantastic lifetime achievement, and I am incredibly proud of my 40-year career with the company,” said Kurt Robinson. “Moving forward, RHC requires a committed, strong leader who shares our company values, and we’ve found that leader in David Smith, who will be taking over the day-to-day leadership of the business as president and CEO.”

Smith joined RHC in early 2023 as its vice president of operations. He previously worked at Bell Flight in engineering and leadership positions, including as chief engineer then program director for the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X and vice president of operations modernization. Smith also served as chief executive of Textron subsidiary TRU Simulation + Training Inc. He holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.  

When it comes to Robinson’s future, Smith noted that the company has made significant investments in engineering talent, particularly over the last year. He emphasized that its foundation won’t change as RHC moves forward on expanding the performance and capabilities of its current products and developing new ones. Smith said Robinson will continue to focus on safety from its factory technology to its helicopters as well as partnering with companies using company aircraft to explore technologies such as electric and autonomous flight.

“Leading Robinson Helicopter Company is an extraordinary privilege,” said Smith. “With a 50-year legacy of success, I am honored to lead the company into the next 50 years of vertical flight. I look forward to working with the more than 400 service centers and dealers and the more than 1,100 employees of RHC as we pursue new products, markets, partnerships, and technologies.” 

Kate O’Connor is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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