Textron has appointed Lisa Atherton as president and chief executive of Bell as current chief of the vertical flight specialist Mitch Snyder retires.

The manufacturer said on 10 April that Snyder – who has led Bell since 2015 – will retire at the end of April, capping a 20-year career with Textron. 

“During his tenure, Mitch oversaw the development of new technologies and product innovations, significant wins in Bell’s military business and the expansion of our commercial programmes,” says Scott Donnelly, chief executive of Textron.

Bell 505

Source: Bell

Launched by his predecessor, Snyder has overseen 505’s commercial success 

Snyder’s efforts to pivot Bell toward the future of vertical flight included investments in digitally focused manufacturing, advanced design and simulation facilities and expanding support services to customers.

One of Snyder’s signature achievements was securing a multi-decade contract for the US Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) that will eventually replace the service’s 2,300 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks.

Bell’s V-280 tiltrotor was selected in December for the FLRAA programme of record, estimated to be worth up to $70 billion. Rival Sikorsky challenged the army’s choice, but government auditors on 6 April upheld the Bell win.

“It was over a decade of really hard work,” Snyder said in January of the effort at Bell to deliver a FLRAA win.

Atherton worked as CEO of Textron Systems – the company’s defence, government and aerospace technologies arm – from 2017 to January 2023, when she was named chief operating officer at Bell. She has worked for Textron since 2007.

“Lisa has done an outstanding job of building strong teams at Bell and Textron Systems in her 16 years with the company and has earned the confidence of our customers,” Donnelly says. “Under her leadership, Bell will continue its strong execution across military and commercial programs and I am confident that she will provide the strategic vision to generate future growth for Bell.”

Headquartered in Forth Worth, Bell makes rotorcraft for defence and commercial customers around the world. The company produces a range of conventional aircraft designed for defence, public safety and rescue missions, as well as for private and executive purposes.

Bell is also designing a new class of conceptual aircraft called High Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing (HSVTOL) – which would combine elements of helicopters, tiltrotors and jet aircraft – and collaborating with Virgin Galactic to design part of its new Delta-class spaceship.

Textron turned a $584 million profit in 2022 even as supply-chain issues held up production. The group’s aviation interests include Bell, Cessna and Beechcraft. 

Additional reporting by Ryan Finnerty.