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 Council is very keen to hear your views as to what it is that we, as a professional Society, can do to encourage greater involvement from all sections of society."

Sir Stephen Dalton FRAeS

President's Message: December 2017

The RAeS is a society made up of over 23,000 members in over 67 Branches around the world. We have members from many different aerospace related backgrounds across multiple industries and organisations and yet our Council, Professional Boards and general membership is still missing out on the skills, capability and professional contribution from many groups of people. It is clear that people from many sectors of the community, when looking at their career choices, either do not feel that they have the opportunity to consider the aerospace sector or are not attracted to the aerospace disciplines as the basis for their careers. For example, there would seem to be a significant paucity of young students entering aerospace professions from some socio-economic groups, from ethnic minorities and among young females.

In the last month, the Council has been considering what we can do to encourage and attract more members from these groups to want to enter our amalgam of professions and help our Society. The Council is very keen to hear your views as to what it is that we, as a Professional Society, can do to encourage greater involvement from all sections of society especially from those groups who have not, to date, consistently and regularly sought careers in aerospace. We need to understand why different groupings feel attracted to the discipline but, equally importantly, why others do not. We need to analyse if there is any element of our collective behaviour or approach to aerospace and the associated careers that is alienating potential apprentices and students. As we seek to advise colleagues and
staff, either individually or collectively, do we, even subconsciously, do so in a way which impacts on their commitment, aspirations and plans. As an example of the Council’s intent to try and better understand the factors which can adversely impact on some peoples’ choices of careers, we will be conducting a workshop in the New Year on whether ‘unconscious bias’ may be impacting on how supervisors, managers and careers advisors could, unwittingly, be adversely impacting significant sections of our future working community. The major concern is that, in this unintended way, aerospace (and other) sector professionals maybe denying the sector the talents and potential of a talented pool of high calibre individuals. Worth a thought and maybe some action in your organisation?

There is no shortage of air transport initiatives being announced. The Dubai autonomous air taxi system, Airbus’ autonomous quadcopter and the ‘Uber-style’ air taxi scheme recently inaugurated in the Channel Islands. Boeing’s 777X aircraft with its revolutionary folding wings and the agreement between Airbus and Bombardier in the production of the CSeries aircraft with its equally impressive design elements are making ground breaking changes to the manufacturing of new airliners. The future passenger demand would seem to indicate that speed of flight is not the absolute requirement but point to point travel, with greater availability and use of regional airports, is important to more people as they look for convenience and greater efficiency in their travel. Equally, there is an increasing demand for aircraft designs to be more and more environmentally conscious. Hybrid and electricpowered aircraft are rapidly being developed and, despite some concerns that current capability in this area is limited, there can be no doubt that, with significant greater efficiency being designed into current jet and ducted-fan engines by Rolls-Royce et al, the focus on the need to reduce the environmental impact of national and international flying will lead to significant further improvements in design and efficiency over the next few years. Perhaps, the area that could deliver significant beneficial effect to our environment is further detailed international study into the avoidance of contrails?

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.