GE Aviation Taps Embraer’s John Slattery to Replace Retiring CEO

General Electric Co. said David Joyce, the longtime head of its aviation business and a vice chair of the parent company, will step down after 40 years with the manufacturing giant.

John Slattery, the chief executive officer of Embraer SA’s commercial aviation operations, was named CEO-elect of GE Aviation, effective July 13. He will assume the full role in September, when Joyce becomes nonexecutive chair of the unit, GE said in a statement Monday.

“What we have in aviation is a business that has led globally for decades across multiple generations of product platforms,” Larry Culp, the CEO of GE, said in an interview. “That is something David has sustained and we think John will as well.”

The change adds an element of uncertainty at an already challenging time for GE’s jet-engine division, one of the strongest performers for the Boston-based company in recent years. The division has been upended as the coronavirus pandemic has battered the aviation industry, forcing the unit to cut 13,000 jobs.

GE fell 4.4% to $6.93 at 9:35 a.m. in New York as markets slumped worldwide on anxiety over the pandemic. The company’s shares tumbled 35% this year through Friday, while the S&P 500 dropped 5.9%.

Steady Presence
Joyce, 63, has been one of the few consistent faces through a tumultuous stretch for GE, which lost more than $200 billion of market value in 2017 and 2018 as it grappled with weak demand and cash flow issues. The executive, who spent his entire GE career in the aviation unit and has run it for the last 12 years, was seen as a steadying influence for investors.

“David really is an industry icon, trusted around the world at a time when the industry has seen a lot of change,” Culp said.

Joyce delayed his retirement for several years in part because of turnover at the top of GE, said Culp, who became CEO in late 2018. The business has also had to contend with the grounding of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max and the impact of the coronavirus.

“When I came on in the fall of ’18 I knew that one of the things I would need to tackle in the near- to medium-term was a transition at aviation since David was retirement-eligible,” Culp said. “We’ve been talking to people in the industry for an extended period of time.”

Joyce will serve as a strategic adviser next year, GE said…

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