Leonardo has appointed Adam Clarke to head its UK helicopter business following the sudden departure of the unit’s previous managing director Nick Whitney in mid-May.

Whitney’s exit came out of the blue, according to company insiders, but Leonardo insists it was by “mutual agreement”.

AW149 P6 1DX38140

Source: Leonardo Helicopters

“We would like to thank Nick for his hard work and dedication to the business,” the firm adds.

“Leonardo remains fully committed to the future success of its helicopter business in the UK.”

Regardless of the reasons, the move could not have come at a worse time for the manufactuer, with the UK Ministry of Defence having formally launched its £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) New Medium Helicopter contest just days earlier.

Leonardo is proposing its AW149 for the requirement, which it plans to build at its Yeovil plant in southwest England.

Clarke moves from the group’s electronics unit where he was director of strategy and competitive analysis.

He has been with the company since 2004, according to his LinkedIn profile, holding a variety of posts in the UK, Italy and the USA.