Omer Bar-Yohay, chief executive of electric aircraft manufacturer Eviation, who has been part of the company since its founding in 2015, resigned abruptly on Feb. 14.
Bar-Yohay’s departure comes nearly on the eve of the first flight of its all-electric nine-seat commuter aircraft, Alice. Announcing the news Monday morning, Eviation called Bar-Yohay’s departure part of a “planned succession process that reflects the company’s transition to the production phase of the all-electric Alice aircraft”, naming Gregory Davis as interim CEO.
Yet, comments by Bar-Yohay indicate the opposite. Rather than a planned transition, on social media, Bar-Yohay wrote that his abrupt departure was less than amicable: “Effective today, I am to step down from my position as CEO after a long-standing disagreement with the company’s main shareholder.”
Eviation’s principal shareholder is Singapore-based and New Zealand-born billionaire Richard Chandler, who owns the Clermont Group, parent company of Clermont Aerospace which also owns Eviation’s sister company and propulsion provider MagniX. Bar-Yohay wrote: “This endeavor is bigger and has more momentum than the person who started it and will endure the influence of even the most misguided investor.”
Reached by The Air Current, Bar-Yohay said he plans to remain part of the board as a minority shareholder in Eviation and said his departure was the result of “an array of disagreements over a long period of time” following a period of Clermont seeking a change in management. Eviation’s chairman Roei Ganzarski, also CEO of MagniX, abruptly stepped down from both positions in January. Ganzarski declined to comment.
“If it has to blow up, it should blow up today,” Bar-Yohay said, noting that it was time for the company to turn a corner as it nears first flight and early production of the Alice. Through a spokesperson, Eviation said Ganzarski’s departure was unrelated to Bar-Yohay’s.
The spokesperson said the decision to replace Bar-Yohay was made in December, and The Seattle Times reported that he was aware of the decision.
Yet, in the weeks leading up to his abrupt departure, Bar-Yohay has been unusually candid in the otherwise secretive world of new aviation startups.
His public comments at recent events — including an interview with The Air Current — have provided a previously unseen glimpse at Alice’s design and Eviation’s technical assumptions, nuances and operational necessities that accompany the world’s first all-electric commercial aircraft — including a begrudging acknowledgement of the slow pace of battery innovation.
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