Wichita manufacturer of Cessna, Beechcraft planes has a new chief executive

Ron Draper
Ron Draper Textron Inc.

Textron Aviation is getting a new CEO.

Parent company Textron Inc. announced Friday that Ron Draper will succeed Scott Ernest as president and chief executive of the maker of Cessna and Beechcraft airplanes, which employs 9,000 people in Wichita.

The change is effective immediately, a Textron Inc. spokesman said.

Ernest, who has been at the helm of Textron Aviation since 2011, is moving to lead Textron’s industrial segment and Textron Specialized Vehicles as president and CEO, Textron Inc. said in a news release Friday.

“Scott Ernest begins his leadership of Textron Specialized Vehicles at a time when his experience will be especially valuable,” Textron Inc. president and CEO Scott Donnelly said in the release. “The business continues to expand its product line and build out its dealer network, which is vital for our plans to grow sales in the US and internationally. Scott brings an extensive track record of success in taking businesses to the next level — something he did very well at Textron Aviation.”

Textron Specialized Vehicles’ products include E-Z-Go golf carts, Arctic Cat snowmobiles and Jacobsen lawnmowers

Ernest is replacing Kevin Holleran, who left the company.

Draper, 50, has been at Textron Aviation since 2012, most recently as senior vice president of integrated supply chain and operations. Draper is a West Point graduate and former Army helicopter pilot who has been with Textron Inc. companies including Bell helicopter since 1999.

“Ron Draper has a great depth of knowledge about the worldwide aviation business and has led several of Textron Aviation’s most impactful strategic initiatives,” Donnelly said. “He has driven solid gains for the business in recent years, including the successful integration of our Beechcraft and Cessna operations, expansion of our quality management systems and global sourcing strategies.”

Kenny Dichter, founder and CEO of Wheels Up, one of Textron Aviation’s biggest customers, has had a close relationship with Ernest. But Dichter said Friday he doesn’t see Ernest’s departure affecting the relationship between the two companies.

“Wheels Up and Textron Aviation under Scott’s leadership have had a great run, and we’re looking forward to that run continuing with Ron at the helm,” Dichter said. “I’ve enjoyed a great professional and personal relationship with Scott. Textron industrial is getting itself a great guy.”