Opener Aero has appointed Ken Karklin as its new Chief Executive Officer, assuming day-to-day leadership of the company and joining its board of directors, while founder Marcus Leng steps down from the role.

Ken Karklin served for the last 13 years in a range of leadership functions at AeroVironment, a leader in unmanned aircraft and robotic systems, including engineering, operations, quality and programme management. 

For the last seven years, he was an officer of the company in his capacities as vice president and general manager of the efficient energy systems segment, senior vice president of operations, and for the last two years as AeroVironment’s chief operating officer. 

Before joining AeroVironment, Karklin served in engineering leadership positions at startup Touchdown Technologies, Agilent Technologies, Hewlett Packard Company and Intel Corporation.

Karklin said: “We have an exceptionally talented team at Opener, and I am truly excited to lead the company into the future.”

Opener Aero claims Marcus Leng conducted the world’s first manned winged eVTOL flight on 5th October 2011 with an aircraft built in the basement of his home and innovated modern battery and motor technologies to produce BlackFly, claimed to be the world’s first fixed-wing, eVTOL personal ultralight aircraft. Leng founded Skykar Inc., which later became part of the Opener Group. 

Leng said: “Ken brings a breadth of cross functional leadership competencies to Opener that are exceptionally aligned with our forthcoming transition to customer shipments and revenue production of the BlackFly personal air vehicle.

“The Board and I are confident that Ken is the right person to build on this momentum.”

In July last year, Opener performed the first public manned flights of its BlackFly eVTOL aircraft at the Electric Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

First revealed in 2018, BlackFly is described as the world’s first all fixed-wing, ultralight eVTOL aircraft, measuring 13’ 7” wide by 13’ 5” long with a range of about 25 miles and 20 percent reserve in the USA. 

Earlier, in February 2021, Hyundai Motor Group appointed Ben Diachun as chief technology officer of its Urban Air Mobility division to help develop its vision of bringing eVTOL aircraft to market by 2028.