Scott Drennan and Hyundai Motor Group have agreed to part ways just six months after Drennan was announced as vice president of research and development for Hyundai’s newly-formed urban air mobility (UAM) division.
Drennan joined Hyundai UAM in April as the division formed its core leadership team. Hyundai announced in September its foray into UAM, with former NASA associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Dr. Jaiwon Shin as lead of the new division. Hyundai quickly recruited Drennan alongside Ascension Global’s Pamela Cohn as chief operating officer and former Federal Aviation Administration deputy administrator Michael Whitaker as head of global policy.
Now, after six months helping Hyundai build the foundation for its $1.5 billion UAM play, he’s moving on to launch a consulting business — Drennan Innovations — that will provide executive-level engineering services and leadership consulting to clients across the mobility space, Drennan told eVTOL.com.
Before joining Hyundai, Drennan spent 26 years developing VTOL aircraft at Bell, including as chief engineer on the AW609 and more recently as vice president of engineering innovation, where he led design work on Bell’s hybrid-electric and fully-electric Nexus eVTOL concepts and other exploratory activities in the UAM space.
“I may look like someone who comes from the historical VTOL OEM world when you count up the years, but I’ve stretched out into many areas beyond building a helicopter or powered-lift aircraft,” Drennan told eVTOL.com. “Building complex systems of systems moving people, things and data are also about the digital interface between the physical infrastructure and the vehicle itself, the interface with the customer, and much more.”
Drennan Innovations will work with clients across the civil and military mobility space to assist on design, development and deployment of their solutions across the spectrum of propulsion options, manned and unmanned, and fixed- as well as rotary-wing projects. Drennan also described some of the leadership challenges he often sees for engineers as leaders and for integrating engineering teams, which he plans to tackle as part of his consulting services.
But Drennan described his consulting business as an “interim project.” His ultimate ambition is finding the right partners to launch a new entrant into the urban air mobility market, combining the engineering, manufacturing and flight operations skill sets often found separately into a company capable of excelling in all three areas.
“There are three big tasks that you need to do. You need to design, develop and certify the vehicle. Then, you need to manufacture that vehicle at rate, at quality levels that match the engineering that you were certified to. And finally, you need to operate those vehicles safely,” Drennan said.
“All three of those are critical for success and for safety. I don’t see an eVTOL OEM that has all three, and I don’t see an auto company that has all three. I don’t know that we’ve really found one company that is ready to take on that full bill.”