Brian Barents To Retire as Executive Chair of Aerion

Brian Barents, an industry stalwart whose business aviation career spans five decades, is retiring from his role as executive chairman at Aerion. Barents will remain on the board of directors of the developer of the AS2 supersonic business jet, while Tom Vice will take the position of CEO in addition to president.

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Vice joined Aerion in March as president and COO after a 30-year career with Northrop Grumman, where he had served as president of the Aerospace Systems and Technical Services units. Vice will remain on the Aerion board while he assumes responsibility for all aspects of leadership of Aerion, including the Reno, Nevada–based Aerion Supersonic Corp., which is designing the supersonic aircraft, and the Palo Alto, California–based Aerion Technologies Corp., which specializes in advanced aerodynamics software.

Aerion chairman Robert Bass said the appointment ensures a smooth leadership transition “that keeps us firmly on a positive trajectory.” Bass further praised Barents’s contributions in building the company that began in 2003, including recruiting talent and helping to bring in the necessary external partners.

The transition caps an aviation career for Barents that began with the Air National Guard in 1966. He stepped into the business aviation niche in the 1970s, becoming senior vice president of sales and marketing for Cessna and general manager of the Citation division, which at the time had grown into the largest seller of corporate jets. He then took over as president of Learjet, overseeing the company through the sale to Bombardier in 1991 and the launch of the Learjet 60 and 45 business jets. He also served as managing partner and CEO of Galaxy Aerospace and helped steer the sale of that company to Gulfstream.

Barents has served on the boards of aerospace companies, including Kaman, CAE, and the Nordam Group, and has been an active member of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.