New York (CNN Business)Eviation, the company behind what is supposed to be the world’s first all-electric passenger airplane, has undergone an unexpected change in leadership just before the plane’s projected first flight — and the company and the now-former CEO are offering different takes on the situation.
Eviation, an Israel-based company, has said it plans three versions of its all-electric plane: a “commuter” variant holding nine passengers and two pilots, an executive version holding six passengers, and one specialized for cargo. The company has said the nine-passenger version, which it calls “Alice,” will be able to fly for one hour and about 440 nautical miles after 30 minutes of charging.
Eviation initially aimed for the Alice to take flight before 2022, but said poor weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest at the end of the year had hindered testing. The Alice has been undergoing several taxi tests since late 2021, and last month then-CEO Omer Bar-Yohay told CNN Business that its first flight was “just weeks away.” Bar-Yohay did not mention an impending CEO shift at that time.
On Monday, Bar-Yohay, who was also a co-founder of Eviation, left the company after seven years, and he was replaced by interim CEO and current Eviation president Gregory Davis. The company says the change is part of a “planned succession process” as Eviation shifts from planning to production of the Alice, according to a statement. An executive search process is underway to fill the CEO position long-term, it said.
But Bar-Yohay said that while it is time for a new direction, his departure is the result of a dispute within the company.
“This is definitely part of a natural progression. It is time for the company to turn a corner and really transition from proving our prototype to manufacturing,” Bar-Yohay told CNN Business. “That said, there is a long-standing disagreement about how and what exactly does the company need to do going forward, and that created some friction between myself and the main shareholder of the company.”