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.
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. designing the supersonic aircraft and the Palo Alto, California–based Aerion Technologies Corp. that 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” and added, “Aerion has seen many changes since its inception and continues to evolve and grow in its pursuit of a supersonic revival.”
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. “Brian has made an enormous contribution in guiding our efforts…I want to express my gratitude to Brian for his belief in Aerion, his leadership, and his friendship.”
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 v-p 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 further has served on the boards of a number of aerospace companies, including Kaman, CAE, and The Nordam Group, as well as an active member of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.