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.

Simon Henley FRAeS_cropped.jpg

Rear Adm Simon Henley CEng FRAeS, President 2018-19

Sir Stephen Dalton FRAeS.jpg

Sir Stephen Dalton FRAeS, President 2017-18


My year as President of the Society will coincide with several momentous changes which will have significatn impact on the aviation sector globally."

Rear Adm Simon Henley CEng FRAeS

President's Message: June 2018

My year as President of the Society will coincide with several momentous changes which will have significant impacts on the aviation sector globally. Our role as both a professional body and as the learned society for aeronautics and space will be vital in helping recruit and grow the necessary skills within the sector, to inform and cultivate the growth of knowledge to support new technologies and ways of operating and to inform governments and decision makers on a non-partisan basis on the options and consequences of particular decisions and choices.

The year will coincide with the final negotiations of the conditions on which the UK will leave the European Union. The Society has already been active in providing information to the Government, Parliament and industry on many areas and will continue as we reach the business end. The aerospace sector has demonstrably benefited in terms of increased safety, cost reduction and resulting increased demand from global and regional standard setting, regulation, and harmonised standards for training, operating, maintenance, manufacturing and certification.

For the UK, it is a stark fact that almost every component produced in the UK for a civil airliner is exported. For the EU, the contribution of UK company and individual expertise to EU projects and bodies is significant and the wrong deal will prove detrimental to both sides of the channel and the Atlantic. Well researched, factual analysis will be vital in providing impartial advice into an arena fraught with political rhetoric. For the UK, and several other partner nations, 2018/19 will see the introduction of the F-35 Lightning II into service with their respective Services. The introduction of this aircraft will require significant changes to doctrine and operations and will bring new challenges with novel materials and considerations such as signature management to the maintenance world. Of particular excitement for me personally will be the bringing together of the F-35 and HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018 to mark the re-entry of the UK into the select group of countries able to project air power from the sea.

In civil aviation, the myriad of programmes aimed at reducing the carbon footprint and increasing the sustainability of aviation operations will require an ever-accelerating programme of change. The aerospace community is focused across the whole spectrum of how we plan and operate routes, fuel usage reduction, the use of sustainable aviation fuels and, through implementation of new technologies in aerodynamics, materials and propulsion. In parallel, expanding the applicability of electric propulsion will continue to accelerate, with the opportunity to co-develop technologies with other sectors such as automotive.

I will be working with the headquarters to ensure that our lecture, conference and Specialist Group programmes provide the right balance between history/information and maintaining the provision of high-quality technical continuing professional development (CPD), both in our capacity as a professional body and learned society for the specialist skill groups we represent. I have always regarded the Society as my professional Alma Mater and provision of high quality CPD is vital if we are to attract and retain members in the early stages of their careers, and then to retain their membership as they get more senior and hopefully take up roles in the governance and direction of the Society.

The President's Biography

Simon was brought up in Horsham Sussex, and educated at Collyers Grammar School Horsham. He joined the Royal Navy directly from school and underwent initial officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, followed by studying for a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Royal Naval Engineering College in Manadon, Plymouth followed by 12 months post-graduate training in Aerospace Engineering.

He served as an Aircraft Engineer Officer in the Royal Navy for 32 years, retiring in the rank of Rear Admiral. During his career, he served in operational roles supporting front line squadrons on several helicopter types and Sea Harrier, and towards the end of his career specialised in future logistic support requirements for new aircraft and ships, and then in major project acquisition. He served as the UK lead in the US/UK Joint Strike Fighter Programme Office, was the UK lead in participation in the source selection process for that programme, and subsequently led the UK’s Joint Combat Aircraft Integrated Project Team for 4 years. His last job before retirement was as Technical Director and head of Programme Management for the Defence Equipment and Support organisation.

He subsequently joined Rolls-Royce as Programme Director for new programmes in Defence Aerospace, with responsibility for development and transition to production of the LiftSystem for the F-35 Lightning 2 programme, the UK elements of the F-136 engine for that aircraft and the TP400 engine for A400M, and the propulsion systems for the Mantis and Taranis unmanned programmes. Later he expanded his portfolio to include all Rolls-Royce military helicopter engines. In 2010 he was seconded to the Rolls-Royce/Snecma/MTU/ITP joint venture Europrop International as President, responsible for the development, certification, and introduction to service of the TP400 engine for the A400M aircraft, culminating in the delivery of the first aircraft to the French Air Force in 2013. After leaving Rolls-Royce in 2014, he has worked as VP Programmes for an aircraft interior company developing and delivering the galleys for the Airbus A350, and subsequently as Director (Special Projects) for Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group.

He is a Chartered Aerospace Engineer, a Registered Project Professional, an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Project Management, and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.