October 2015

One of the challenges I set for my Presidential year was to promote the Society’s use of digital and social media and this was the main theme at a recent Council meeting. There is no doubt that we have made great strides forward in embracing these forms of communication but it is  important that we continue to keep in touch with developments and to understand that applications are evolving constantly. Whilst Facebook, Linked In and YouTube are still the main platforms, younger people are today engaging with new social media channels and the Society must keep abreast if we are to reach our changing audience. The Society is nevertheless performing well in comparison with similar organisations and activity, sharing and engagement is steadily increasing.

My main theme for the year is that of Remotely Piloted Air Systems and there has already been much activity across the Society this year. The main exposition of the theme during the year is the President’s Conference and this was held during early October under the title “RPAS Achievements and Challenges.”

The Conference provided a strategic view of the growth in Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems giving users, manufacturers and regulators the opportunity to engage in an unbiased discussion on growing national and international UAS activity.

The Conference highlighted the Society’s’ central role in the discussion on the growth of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems technology and applications, as well as providing: a showcase for the latest applications; an update on the regulatory challenges in light of the ICAO RPAS Manual, the House of Lords Committee Report and developments across the UK CAA, EASA, FAA etc.; an overview of the technical challenges and opportunities and a review of the issues of liability, insurance, privacy and public perceptions. Everyone who attended the Conference declared it to be a great success highlighting the major role the Society can play in bridging between the “tech” community and the traditional aerospace community. A fuller review of the Conference will appear elsewhere in Aerospace.

Preparations are accelerating as we approach the Society’s 150th anniversary.in 2016 – our sesquicentennial. The 2016 steering committee has been working hard over the past year under the energetic leadership of Lee Balthazor to make it a memorable anniversary. We will be are celebrating the formation of the Society by looking back 150 years and forward into the future with a theme of ‘innovative firsts’ in aerospace. Our first event on 12 January 2016 marks the anniversary of the Society’s inaugural meeting in 1866. This is a debate on the future of manned aircraft, which promises to be a lively forum and may reflect a debate that probably took place during that very first meeting! There are so far over 36 activities planned for the year at Hamilton Place and at Branches and Divisions worldwide. Look in our events calendar for activities near to you. There are a wide range of activities that should provide every member with the opportunity to celebrate aerospace innovation, past and future.

Martin Broadhurst OBE MA CDir FIOD FRAeS