Diehl Aviation Changes CEO; Eyes Sustainability, UAM Products

Diehl Aviation CEO handover
(L-R) Rainer von Borstel; Josef Köcher
Credit: Diehl Aviation

Rainer von Borstel, the CEO of aircraft systems and cabin interiors provider Diehl Aviation since 2010, will retire this month and Josef Köcher, who recently joined as COO, will succeed him, the company announced April 19.

Before he joined Diehl Aviation in June 2020, Köcher spent two decades in “several” management positions at Airbus and ArianeGroup, according to the announcement. Most recently he was head of production aircraft and MRO Germany, and head of site at Airbus Defense and Space in Manching, Germany.

Von Borstel’s departure comes after a dramatic growth spurt and reorganization for Diehl Aviation—including Diehl Aerospace, a joint venture with Thales—capped by the historic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The aviation division of Diehl Group grew annual sales to about $1.8 billion and opened new sites near Charleston, South Carolina where Boeing has its 787 line.

But the pandemic brought a need to cut costs and consolidate more, with Diehl Aviation starting the outbreak at 6,000 employees and so far letting go around 500 employees, or more than 8%. In November 2020, it outlined a plan to retain all of its sites in Germany and to employ around 4,000 people worldwide in the end, with 3,000 in Germany. Diehl Aviation expects business volume in 2022 will be slightly more than half of 2019 sales levels. Profitability is expected by 2023.

The company plans to pursue product innovations for touchless cabin functions in commercial aircraft, as well as taking part in the European Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project. It also is seeking to develop sustainable lightweight materials to play into the decarbonization effort across commercial aviation, and the company is pushing to get involved in the urban air mobility (UAM) market. In May 2020, Diehl Aerospace, a unit of Diehl Aviation, signed a contract with Volocopter for the development and production of flight control computers, including the primary and backup control computers for Volocopter’s electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft VoloCity.

Michael Bruno

Based in Washington, Michael Bruno is Aviation Week Network’s Executive Editor for Business. He oversees coverage of aviation, aerospace and defense businesses, supply chains and related issues.