Our President

The President of the Society provides leadership of the Council and of the Society in pursuit of its Objectives. The President holds a pivotal role at the Society upholding the values, and reputation of the Society as well as the interests of the members. The President is an Ambassador of the Society representing us at key engagements, influencing the global standing of the Society in furthering the advancement of aeronautical art, science and engineering.

Sir Stephen Dalton FRAeS.jpg

Sir Stephen Dalton FRAeS, President 2017-18


Prof Chris Atkin CEng FRAeS, President 2016-2017


Are we doing all that we can to demonstrate the value, skill and career opportunities in aerospace."

Sir Stephen Dalton FRAeS

President's Message: August 2017

The aerospace sector is one of the most diverse and innovative businesses, both in terms of career opportunities and the technology at the heart of the products and means by which we fly. For those who attended the Paris Air Show this year, you will have seen the impressively varied and exciting ideas that are being developed by industry players across the globe. One of the growing concepts (and reality) that was not very evident was the burgeoning development of ‘carplanes’! The idea and indeed, flying examples of, cars that can become aeroplanes, have been around for a long time. However, examples are now being developed from Slovakia to America and Japan and, very soon, this age-old vision of people being able to drive their car out of their garage and then fly to work, school or to the coast will become reality. The biggest question will be how to put some structure around this increased demand for airspace! Just as when unmanned aerial vehicles became readily and cheaply available, the regulators and traditional operators have been trying to catch up with the impact of these new users ‘operating’ in our backyard. We need to urgently consider how our airspace is going to be redesigned to cope, with not only the increasing amount of commercial air traffic but also with the real risk to safe operations posed by unregulated/licenced operators of UAVs and the rapidly approaching demand for more people to want to ‘fly to work every day in their car’. Many might think that these additional pressures on airspace regulation are still a small factor and in total volume, today, that is probably true but, within a very short space of time, these additional pressures are already causing serious interaction, as witnessed by the increasing number of incidents caused by small UAVs being operated near airports etc.

As this year’s class of university, school and college graduates leave to find further education and jobs, it is probably a good time for us to reflect
on the wide range of jobs, disciplines and skills that the aerospace industry needs and employs. The design, testing, manufacturing and maintenance of air vehicles immediately come to mind. Behind those immediate disciplines there are, of course, many many more, including aviation law makers and regulators, as well as aircraft pilots and despatchers. It is commonplace these days when you board a commercial aircraft bound for Munich or Tenerife to be addressed by a female captain/pilot. However, are we actively identifying and seeking to employ as
wide a cross-section of our populations as we can in the significant range of jobs that exist in aerospace? Are we doing all that we can to demonstrate the value, skill and career opportunities in aerospace? Could we do more to encourage and convince all the potential candidates, who are just graduating from education, that the opportunities in aerospace engineering and aviation in the round are real opportunities for them? This is an international challenge and the RAeS Council will be considering this critical requirement at its September meeting. I would encourage any of our members to send in their thoughts, questions and ideas of how your Society could do more to address this important topic. At our Council meeting, we want to consider the widest range of ideas and possibilities, so that we can ask the executive and others to put actions in hand to ensure that we are leading the way in opening young peoples’ eyes to the possibilities and opportunities and in encouraging employers of
all disciplines to seek the talent from all over our society to come and join our exciting and futurefacing sector.

The need for the RAeS as one of the Learned Societies to provide balanced, independent and focused advice to governments is, of course, at the
heart of our strategic aim. However, as genuine cross-discipline international issues arise, as they do from time to time, it is probably worth us having some discussion as to how we can work with the other Learned Societies to pull together a coherent and comprehensive set of advice and discussions with the relevant commercial companies and governments. The UK leaving the EU in 2019 is one of those genuine international issues which will require some concerted and comprehensive thinking and to which the Learned Societies could make a powerful and effective concerted contribution; worth a thought and/or discussion?

Sir Stephen Dalton FRAeS

The President's Biography

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton joined the Royal Air Force in 1976 after graduating with an honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Bath University. His early career was spent as a frontline pilot on the Jaguar and Tornado aircraft. He commanded No 13 Squadron and subsequently, he commanded Royal Air Force Coltishall and the RAF’s Jaguar Force. Promoted to Air Commodore, he was appointed as Director of the Eurofighter (Typhoon) Programme Assurance Group in the Ministry of Defence with responsibility for ensuring that all elements of this key international defence programme resulted in a cost-effective and safe introduction to service of Typhoon. On promotion to Air Vice-Marshal, he took over the post of Capability Manager for Information Superiority, with defence-wide responsibility for the assessment, budgetary management and delivery of Defence’s intelligence and communications capability. In April 2004, he was appointed Controller Aircraft, a post which carried with it a place on the Air Force Board, which he carried with him into his next position when, in May 2006, he took up the appointment of Director General Typhoon in the Ministry of Defence; this period was dominated by the major review of the 4 partner-nation government and industry MOUs and contracts. In May 2007, Air Chief Marshal Dalton was appointed as the strategic personnel (HR) and training director for the Royal Air Force and he was promoted Air Chief Marshal in April 2009 and became Chief of the Air Staff in July 2009. He was awarded The Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air in 1985, appointed a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) in 2005, promoted to Knight Commander (KCB) in 2009 and advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order (GCB) in 2012. He stood down as Chief of the Air Staff in July 2013. Much of his career has involved the leadership of major change programmes in high profile positions and across major multi-departmental projects within government working on high-level international programmes with professional bodies, major industry partners and overseas organisations and governments.