Born on November 17, 1940 in Bizerte (Tunisia). Jean Pierson attended the military academy of La Flèche.  In 1963 after graduating from the ENSA (l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique, the French national institute for aeronautical engineering) he joined Sud-Aviation as a production engineer. In 1972 he became General Manager of SOCATA (Aerospatiale’s light aircraft subsidiary), General Manager of Aerospatiale’s Toulouse factory in 1976 and from1983 until 1985, Manager of the Aerospatiale Commercial Aircraft division.

In 1985 he was appointed Managing Director of the Airbus Industrie consortium, a position he held until 1998. Pierson oversaw the launch of the A330 and A340 programmes as well as the expansion of the A320 family with the A318, A319 and A321, and was the main decision-maker behind the launch of the UHCA (Ultra High Capacity Aircraft) programme which gave birth to the A380.

Jean Pierson played a large part in the success of Airbus which, under his tenure, underwent a period of intense growth and rose to the rank of the world's leading aircraft manufacturer. This significantly increased the company's market share and laid the foundations for the company’s integration.

Jean Pierson was a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur and Officer of the French National Order of Merit, was a recipient of the German Bundesverdienstkreuz, Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and Grand Officer of the Spanish Order of Civil Merit, In 1999, the Association of Professional Aeronautics and Space Journalists (AJPAE) awarded him the Icare award.


It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Jean Pierson. Today's Airbus, an international company with roots in several European countries, owes so much to this entrepreneur for whom cooperation was the key to success. He enabled Airbus Industrie to leverage its different national strengths and with his foresight and the different innovation capabilities, set our company on the path to success. I would like to pay tribute to him personally and on behalf of all Airbus employees

- Guillaume Faury, CEO Airbus