WASHINGTON — The president and CEO of Aerospace Industries Association, David Melcher, announced Thursday he will be leaving the association.

AIA's new CEO will be seated by a panel of experienced industry leaders chaired by Dennis A. Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, and the search will be aided by Melcher, whose departure is effective at the end of 2017.

Melcher joined AIA, which represents the aerospace and defense industry, in 2015 as the chief executive days after the company he previously led, Exelis, merged with Harris. Exelis was a spinoff of ITT, the first company Melcher joined after 32 years of service in the U.S. Army.

Melcher’s predecessor, Marion Blakely, spent eight years with AIA and went on to join Rolls-Royce North America as CEO in 2015.

A spokesman from AIA called Melcher’s departure a "natural segue" as Melcher’s two-year contract was coming to a close right before the association entered into its centennial year. Melcher has the option to renew his contract and stick around until 2020, or abdicate his position to allow for a new CEO to lead the association’s hundredth year.

"Dave's extraordinary vision, leadership, and attention to member value enabled AIA to superbly represent our industry to the many constituencies we serve, and increased AIA's worldwide brand recognition with a new Administration, Congress and our global counterparts," Muilenberg said in a news release.

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Dave Melcher, CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association discusses top trends in military aerospace with Defense News Associate Editor Aaron Mehta.