Northrop Grumman has appointed Scaled Composites president Kevin Mickey as vice-president of advanced design within its advanced research, technology and design group while Scaled has a new president and chief technology officer.

Long-time Scaled vice-president of engineering, Ben Diachun, has been named to fill the vacancy of president effective 31 October, and Cory Bird has been appointed executive vice-president and chief technology officer.

Mickey has been with Scaled since 2005 and before that worked at Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works. He has been president of Scaled since 2013, and has supported several key projects including SpaceShipOne, SpaceShipTwo, Proteus and Firebird during his time with the company.

“Kevin brings a demonstrated record of creating an environment for incredibly talented people to successfully and expeditiously execute and deliver solutions to extremely complex problems,” says Chris Hernandez, who himself was recently appointed as sector vice-president for Northrop's Aerospace Systems’ research, technology and advanced design group.

Diachun takes over the presidency at Scaled as it assembles the world largest airplane, Paul Allen’s rocket-carrying Stratolaunch vehicle – which is expected to fly in 2016.

“When I came to Scaled 12 years ago, it was my dream job, and it still is,” says Diachun. “As an industry, we have yet to fully realise the limits of what is possible in air and space travel. I am honoured to continue Scaled’s legacy of innovative design, rapid prototype manufacturing, and experimental flight test to help move our knowledge of flight forward.”

Bird ascends to the chief technology officer position with decades of experience in advanced prototyping and aerostructure design, having been involved with the Scarab Model 324 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in the 1980s and 37 other prototype air vehicles. He has worked on SpaceShipOne, SpaceShipTwo, WhiteKnight, WhiteKnightTwo, Stratolaunch, Proteus, Triumph and also created and flight tested his own fixed-wing aircraft, the N241ST Symmetry.

“Bird's commitment to designing solutions that offer the most efficient structural arrangements, manufacturing methods and overhead for specific programme requirements has been instrumental to the success of Scaled Composites’ leadership in rapid prototyping and innovation,” the company says.