United Airlines announced several changes to help shape the brand and its long-term direction.
From a leadership perspective, the carrier named Maria Deacon senior vice president of technical operations, overseeing United’s maintenance operations, ground service equipment and facilities maintenance, supply chain, technical services, and planning and strategy.
In addition, Deacon will be tasked with shaping the continued growth and investment in the airline’s Calibrate apprenticeship program, which helps expand and diversify the next generation of maintenance employees.
Most recently, Deacon served as GE Aerospace’s general manager of maintenance, repair and overhaul. She will report to United Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer Greg Hart.
“Our ambitious United Next growth strategy provides a remarkable opportunity to leverage Maria’s unique skillset,” Hart said. “In her nearly 25 years at GE, she established an impressive record of supply chain and operational successes, and her approach to team culture has driven exceptionally high levels of accountability and execution that drove operational excellence.”
The airline also announced a strategic equity investment in Natron Energy, a battery manufacturer whose sodium-ion batteries have the potential to help United electrify its airport ground equipment, including pushback tractors and operations at the gate.
The carrier has more than 12,000 pieces of motorized ground equipment across its operations. Natron’s batteries could potentially be deployed in support of a number of uses, including charging electric ground equipment, charging anticipated future electric aircraft, allowing airport operations to manage electricity demand and improving resiliency related to inclement weather.
“United Airlines Ventures was created to identify companies spearheading the next generation of innovative and emissions-reducing technology,” President Michael Leskinen said. “Natron’s cutting-edge sodium-ion batteries presented an ideal opportunity to both potentially expand our sustainability investment portfolio to our ground operations, and to help make our airport operations more resilient.”
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