New boss making presence felt at AAI


The new boss has arrived at AAI Corp. and, in the words of at least one employee at the Cockeysville defense contractor, "his presence is being felt."

Richard E. Erkeneff, a former senior executive of McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Los Angeles, was hired by United Industrial Corp. to head the restructuring of AAI, its struggling Baltimore County subsidiary that traditionally accounts for about 80 percent of the parent's annual sales.

Mr. Erkeneff succeeded Thomas V. Murphy, who resigned under fire as president and chief executive in April after a sharp drop in AAI's earnings. The falloff was caused partly by a $23 million corporate restructuring and the disappointing performance of a commercial flight simulation company AAI acquired two years ago to lessen its dependence on a declining Pentagon budget.

During his first week on the job at AAI, Mr. Erkeneff made a number of key management changes that included eliminating the position of executive vice president, replacing the president of the struggling Systems Management Inc.(SMI) unit and laying off the director of communications.

Lawrence J. Rytter, who has been with AAI for 30 years and most recently served as executive vice president, was named president of SMI. He replaces John Songster. Mr. Rytter will also serve as a vice president of AAI.

SMI has been losing money in recent years, primarily because of two contracts: a helicopter simulator used in training crews and a simulated amusement park ride for the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel, which is owned by Circus Circus Enterprises Inc.

William F. Herrfeldt, director of communication, was a victim of a restructuring that shifted his internal and external communications and advertising responsibilities to other departments.

More changes are coming, according to Robert W. Worthing, vice president of law and administration, but probably not until the start of the new year.

Grumman's departure is end of military era

Grumman Corp.'s recent decision of get out of the military aircraft design business marks the end of one of the great eras of military aviation.

It was Grumman's swept-wing, twin-engine F-14 Tomcat that was the real star of the 1986 box office hit "Top Gun," which also featured Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis.

For six decades the name Grumman was synonymous with naval aviation. Up to 75 percent of the planes on most modern aircraft carriers were produced by the Bethpage, N.Y.-based company.

During World War II, it was the Grumman F-6F Hellcat that was making headlines. "A faster, harder-hitting Hellcat fighter is one of the secrets behind the Navy's overwhelming success over Japanese air power in the Philippines," a Navy Department dispatch proclaimed in October 1944.

During the Vietnam era, the A-6 Intruder was called on for many of the bombing missions in the South and over North Vietnam. Though much smaller, it carried the same bomb loads B-17s did in World War II.

In recent years, workers at the Grumman machining plant in Glen Arm made parts for the company's EA-6 radar electronic jammer plane, the E2-C Hawkeye radar plane and the forward swept-wing experimental X-29.

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