Leadership

Leadership

Robert Bass, Chairman

As chairman of Aerion Corporation, Mr. Bass leads the investor group funding development of the AS2 supersonic business jet.

Mr. Bass is president of Keystone Group, L.P. and the founder of the Oak Hill family of funds, comprised of more than $45 billion of investments across multiple asset classes. Over the course of 40 years, he has successfully invested in the manufacturing, aviation, automotive, energy, and media and cable industries, among others.

Within aerospace, Mr. Bass has led investments in: Avolon Aerospace Limited, a global aircraft lessor with a portfolio of more than 260 aircraft; UK-based Firth Rixson, a producer of highly engineered jet engine components, which was sold to Alcoa; and Primus International, a leader in highly engineered aerospace parts with facilities in China and Thailand, since sold to Precision Cast Parts.

Mr. Bass has led investments in prominent consumer brand names such as American Skiing Company, Dave & Buster’s, Duane Reade, and The Container Store, as well as in major providers of worldwide business process outsourcing services, including EXL Services, Inc. and Genpact Limited (formerly GE Capital International Services), both with their principal operations in India.

Committed to making a difference, Mr. Bass is a Trustee of Stanford University, Director of Stanford Management Company, and a Trustee of Rockefeller University, Middlesex School, and the Amon Carter Museum. He is past Chairman of Stanford University, Stanford Management Company, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Cook Children’s Medical Center.

Mr. Bass is a native of Fort Worth, where his offices are based. He and his family have played a central role in the development of that city, investing heavily in downtown development, and funding the construction of a performance hall and several public plazas, among other real estate projects in the region.

Mr. Bass received his B.A. degree from Yale University and an MBA degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

 

Brian Barents, Co-Chairman

Mr. Barents has successfully participated in the development of three major general aviation companies, all leaders in their respective markets.

He served as president, CEO, and managing partner for Galaxy Aerospace Corporation, where he led the company to a sales backlog of $2.5 billion prior to negotiating its sale to General Dynamics in 2001.

As president and CEO of Learjet, Inc., Barents turned the company’s negative earnings into the most profitable in the company’s 32-year history, with increased revenues of more than 400%. During his tenure (1989-1996), long-range strategies and new innovative products were introduced that resulted in an order backlog exceeding $1 billion.

As a senior vice president for Cessna Aircraft Company, he was responsible for worldwide sales, marketing, product support and aircraft completion, and actively participated in new product development programs.

Barents is a past chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, and currently serves on the boards of Kaman Corporation, The Nordam Group, and CAE Inc. Barents retired from a 34-year military career in 2002 with the rank of brigadier general in the United States Air Force and The Kansas Air National Guard.

 

Doug Nichols, Chief Executive Officer, Director

As CEO, Mr. Nichols leads the company’s effort to finance, develop, and produce supersonic aircraft based on Aerion’s proprietary technology. As an aviation enthusiast, he also brings incredible energy and excitement to Aerion.

Prior to joining Aerion in the fall of 2008, Nichols worked as a senior advisor to Bombardier on its CSeries program, consulting on the financial aspects of structuring the program, including the structuring of partner and supplier relationships. That program was formally launched in July 2008.

Nichols is a former executive of The Boeing Company where he enjoyed a distinguished 28-year career. Among his many financial, operating and strategic planning roles, Nichols served as CFO for the company’s Commercial Airplane Group 747/767 Programs and for Boeing Business Jets. Over the course of his Boeing career, he gained extensive experience in all aspects of the operational and financial management of commercial airplane programs, including new aircraft market evaluation; product development; aircraft preliminary and detailed design processes; advanced final assembly processes; supply base management; support logistics; marketing and sales; and airplane sales financing.

 

Ernest (Ernie) Edwards, Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer

Mr. Edwards leads all aspects of the sales effort for the Aerion AS2. He retired as president of Embraer Executive Jets at the end of 2013 and earlier served as that company’s vice president of sales & marketing for North America. In those roles (from 2005 to 2013), he helped build Embraer, a new entrant to business aviation, into one of the industry’s leading brands.

A 45-year veteran of the industry, Edwards most recently served as non-executive Chairman of Veling Tayara Ltd., a Dubai-based company that provides structured operating leases for business jets and is a sister company of Veling Ltd., one of the world’s top 40 commercial leasing companies.

He has held senior management positions with Cessna and Gulfstream and is the former president of Swift Aviation Group, which introduced Embraer to the business aircraft market in 2002 by offering the Legacy 600, a variant of the Embraer EMB-135 regional jet.

Edwards is an ATP pilot, type rated in Citation series aircraft, and also holds an airframe & powerplant license. He is a 1972 graduate of Kelsterton College and speaks Arabic.

 

Mike Hinderberger, Senior Vice President For Aircraft Development

Mr. Hinderberger is responsible for all Aerion technical activities required to develop the AS2 supersonic business jet in conjunction with an engine supplier and an airframe OEM.

Hinderberger has led aircraft development programs at a number of manufacturers. He has served as vice president of engineering at Piper Aircraft, vice president of product development at Hawker-Beechcraft, and chief engineer for the G650 program at Gulfstream Aerospace.

Working for Rolls-Royce, Hinderberger gained extensive experience with propulsion systems development and integration. There, he served as flight test team leader for certifying the engine, thrust reverser, and nacelle for the Bombardier Global Express. He later managed the successful development of the G650 nacelle and thrust reverser by Spirit AeroSystems.

 

Dr. Richard Tracy, Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer

Dr. Tracy is an aerodynamicist whose extensive research on supersonic natural laminar flow led to the present SNLF wing concept, which he first patented in 1994. He formed the ASSET Group in 1991, and later Asset Research Corp., to pursue development of commercial applications of SNLF technology. Asset Research Corp. became Aerion Corporation in 2002.

As Aerion’s chief technology officer, Dr. Tracy is responsible for technology development and design oversight of supersonic aircraft incorporating SNLF technology.

He has worked on a number of classified defense programs and civil aircraft development and certification projects, including the single stage to orbit X-30 and the Northrop Grumman “Global Hawk.” As chief engineer for Bill Lear’s LearAvia in the 1970s, he led the advanced design of the LearStar 600, which was later developed as the Canadair CL-600 Challenger. He initiated the design of the carbon composite Lear Fan and led the development effort on that aircraft through its successful first flight. Between the years 1997 and 2001, he was principal investigator on three DARPA contracts related to applications of SNLF technology.

Dr. Tracy holds BS, MS and PhD degrees from Caltech, the latter in Hypersonic Aerodynamics, which he earned in 1964. He attended the Brussels-based NATO Von Karman Institute in 1959-60 as the General Motors Fellow, and was awarded the Von Karman Prize for his thesis on heat transfer in separated supersonic flows.

 

Gerald (Jerry) Grinstein, Board Member

Mr. Grinstein has provided astute leadership to major transportation companies, guiding turn-arounds, mergers, and growth. He has served as CEO of Delta Airlines and Burlington Northern Inc., where he oversaw the acquisition of Santa Fe Pacific to create the nation’s largest railroad. Currently, he is a co-founder and strategic director of Madrona Investment Group, and has served on the board of portfolio company Expedia.com.

Grinstein has held other important roles in government and industry, including: CEO of Western Airlines; partner in the law firm Preston, Torgrimson & Hollman; chief counsel to the Senate Merchant Marine & Transportation Subcommittee; and administrative assistant to U.S. Senator Warren G. Magnuson.

Grinstein is a trustee of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and a member of Long Live the Kings, the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, the University of Washington Medical Foundation, and the Strategic Initiatives Committee for the University of Washington Medical School.

 

Aoife O’Sullivan, Board Member

Ms. O’Sullivan is a founder and partner in the London-based Air Law Firm. Previously she was a partner at international law firm Kennedys, where she worked with a global team of 60 attorneys and finance experts covering business and commercial aviation, military aircraft, and civil aerospace. She advises clients on aircraft finance and regulatory issues including corporate structures, aircraft acquisitions, airline start-ups, and other issues. Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine named her as one of the top 10 leaders in business aviation in 2014. She was also named in Chambers 2015 as a notable practitioner in Asset Finance: Aviation Finance. In Euromoney’s “Women in Business 2015,” O’Sullivan was shortlisted for best in aviation. She was also listed in International Who’s Who of Aviation Finance Lawyers 2015.

 

James Stewart, Board Member

Mr. Stewart is Chief Executive Officer of Consolidated Precision Products Corporation, a leading manufacturer of highly engineered castings and sub-assemblies primarily for aerospace and defense markets. Previously, he was CEO of Mubadala Aerospace MRO network. He has also served as CEO of SR Technics (a part of the Mubadala Aerospace MRO network), CFO of Aerion Corporation, and CFO of Bombardier Aerospace. Mr. Stewart is a member of the advisory board of Skyworks Capital.

 

Mike Henderson, Board Member

Mr. Henderson is founder and chief scientist of SmartTruck, a Greenville, SC company developing aerodynamic modifications for trucks in order to boost their fuel efficiency. Because of its promising technologies, SmartTruck has been able to partner with the U.S. Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where it uses that facility’s supercomputers to develop and optimize SmartTruck aerodynamic designs.

From 2002 through 2012, Mr. Henderson served as Aerion’s chief operating officer. Previously, as Boeing’s chief project engineer for enabling technologies, Mr. Henderson led a team of 600 in developing advanced design and manufacturing technologies. From 1987 through 1995, he served as Boeing’s program manager for high-speed civil transport, leading a team of 1,500 professionals.

Mr. Henderson worked with NASA to create the NASA High Speed Research Program and created a consortium dubbed “Team America” with Boeing as lead to conduct high speed research under contracts totaling $2 billion.

He also led Boeing’s High-Lift Research Unit, which developed advanced computational tools for high-lift systems design. He is a founding member and past president of the Flight Research Institute.

 

Colin Johnson, Senior Vice President For Software Development

As Senior Vice President, Mr. Johnson leads Aerion Corporation’s software methods development and software products business at its wholly-owned subsidiary, Silicon Valley-based Aerion Technologies (formerly Desktop Aeronautics). Aerion’s proprietary software for analyzing high-speed air flow and for airframe optimization have proven key to advancing Aerion’s thinwing technology and the AS2 design. Johnson formerly was CEO of software company Eyetools, a pioneer in eye-tracking-based visual media effectiveness testing, and later President of Desktop Aeronautics. Johnson oversaw that company’s sale to Aerion in 2012 and has managed its integration and growth since. Johnson has served as a consultant for Arthur D. Little in technology innovation. At Delphi Thermal Systems he both worked in forward program product development and managed the engineering relationship on non-allied programs between the company and its customer Toyota. A fluent Japanese speaker, he has worked as Japanese Solutions Program Manager for Hewlett Packard and as a researcher for the Softnomics Center think tank studying Japan’s transition to a service economy, both positions in Tokyo. His bachelor degree is from Stanford University where he studied Asian Languages and Product Design. He later earned an MBA in Management/Entrepreneurship from Columbia Business School.

 

Jeff Miller, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Through his former advertising and PR firm, Blake-Miller Communications, Mr. Miller organized the public introduction of Aerion in 2004 and has been affiliated with the company ever since, with the exception of a tour as vice president of communications for Gulfstream Aerospace from 2010 to 2012. He has also served as vice president of communications at Galaxy Aerospace and director of public affairs at Learjet. He helped introduce the innovative laminar-flow Piaggio Avanti turboprop to America as Piaggio’s U.S. marketing manager. Early in his career he was a copywriter at the Madison Avenue advertising agency Young & Rubicam. He is a former president of the Kansas Aviation Museum.