May 1, 2013 10:44:13 AM
The head of American Eurocopter's Lakota helicopter production facility is leaving the company, officials announced Monday.
Fred Gerard, who has served as senior director of the Lakota production and retrofit unit since the program's 2006 inception, has accepted a position with Airbus in Mobile, Ala.
He is being replaced by Mike Spears, who has worked more than 25 years at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Troy, Ala., beginning as a licensed airframe and power plant mechanic and rising to his most recent position as general manager of the company.
At Sikorsky, Spears led a team of more than 800 people, producing and delivering H-60 helicopters for the United States Navy. At American Eurocopter, he will oversee repair and modifications for customers in the U.S. and abroad.
Peter Cutler, vice-president of government programs for American Eurocopter, on Monday thanked Gerard for his service and welcomed Spears to the company.
"Under Fred's (Gerard) leadership, the Lakota has been one of the most successful programs in Army aviation, with more than 260 helicopters delivered to the Army, National Guard and Navy, all of them on-time, on-budget and on-quality. The performance by Fred and his team in Columbus has been outstanding," Cutler said in a press statement. "We welcome Mike to American Eurocopter and his role as leader of the Lakota production and retrofit team. He will continue the outstanding performance record the plant has in meeting our customers' requirements for Lakota production, modifications and repairs.
The company celebrated the production of its 200th Lakota in March 2012. The aircraft, which take 60 days apiece to complete, are used by U.S. Army, Navy and Army National Guard.
American Eurocopter is a division of EADS North America. The company produces and sells technologically-advanced aircraft ranging from light single engine aircraft to heavy twin engine aircraft. Their headquarters and main facility are in Grand Prairie, Texas.