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


The highlight of my year? Undoubtedly the dedication of our membership, particularly the Branch Committee and Division
Council members I have been privileged to meet all around the world."

Prof Chris Atkin CEng FRAeS

President's Message: April 2017

By the time you read this, I shall be well on my way through the revolving door at 4HP (that was figurative, for those of you trying to picture this new door), with the 2017 Branches Conference pretty much the last item on my agenda before the AGM. The Conference presents a real opportunity to mull over the successes of the 2016 sesquicentenary and to build on the momentum created during that remarkable year. We should also consider how we can increase the opportunities for our younger members to get involved in branch activities.

What has been the highlight of my year? Undoubtedly the dedication of our membership, particularly the Branch Committee and Division Council members I have been privileged to meet all around the world. In February, while speaking at the 2017 Australian International Aerospace Congress, I was introduced to the delegates as ‘President of the RAeS of the UK’ and somewhat doggedly muttered (or so I thought) ‘not just in the UK’, whereupon the conference chair returned to the microphone and said, “actually, President of the RAeS in the whole world!” As you might expect, the gathered Aussies then greeted me as “President of the Whole World” for the next few days. I can say that I have enjoyed my stint as global leader and make no apology for repeatedly pointing out that we work in a global enterprise and should set our aspirations for the Society accordingly – which includes working towards a President in the future who is not based in the UK.

It may sound odd, but I have been reassured that, across the world, the RAeS is more or less facing the same challenges, principally to enthuse the new generation of aerospace professionals with what the Society has to offer. I know that Sir Stephen Dalton will make this a big focus of his presidential year. I can only repeat my message from the March issue of AEROSPACE, that the Society’s most attractive offering is an active membership, and that we must focus upon increasing the opportunities for members to pursue their own ideas and develop their professional aspirations through the Society. For me, 2016 afforded an opportunity to learn from the founders of the Society and, in particular, Lord Kelvin’s spectacular rejection of the invitation to shape the future of ‘aerial navigation’. Our founding members were frustrated at the status quo; they wanted to realise what they saw as unfulfilled potential; their enthusiasm and ambitions were seen as misdirected by their peers, but they got on with it anyway. Isn’t this exactly what the Royal Aeronautical Society needs to be for today’s young professionals?

Prof Chris Atkin CEng 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.