Not the most obvious career move, but Nick Lappos is joining Bell Helicopter. If you regularly follow rotary matters I won’t have to explain the remarkable nature of this (and in fact you’ll no doubt be aware of the story already), but if you don’t, here’s a quick rundown. Nick these days is vice president government programs at Gulfstream, but he’s better-known for his 32 years at Sikorsky where he was most things a pilot could be – test pilot, instructor, and eventually program manager for the S-92 and VXX. The industry was astonished when he moved to Gulfstream to work on ‘planks’ in 2005, but probably not as astonished as it is by his move to Bell.
It’s not just that Nick remains something of a Mr Sikorsky, and one who fiercely and publicly defends all the products he developed, but he’s been a particularly devastating critic of tiltrotors, and the V-22 in particular. (I should declare an intellectual interest here – I’m also a huge sceptic of the V-22.)
Bell remains committed to the tiltrotor concept that it has pioneered. How Nick positions himself publicly now is almost as interesting as how he is integrated into Bell. He’s a major figure in the rotary part of Pprune, where he confirmed the appointment, and he’s given the first indication of how he’s going to handle it all. Meanwhile, there are suggestions that the appointment is not going down wonderfully with all at Bell.
Nick’s contribution to his fellow citizens of the rotary world via Pprune and elsewhere has been quite superb – I wish him luck.