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.

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Rear Adm Simon Henley CEng FRAeS, President 2018-19

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Sir Stephen Dalton FRAeS, President 2017-18


As a Learned Society, it is vital that we contribute to and refresh the body of knowledge around new topics."

Rear Adm Simon Henley CEng FRAeS

President's Message: November 2018

As I write this, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just published its most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures, and the need to act urgently to reduce global emissions of CO2, increase the use of renewable sources of energy, and increase the percentage of land planted with carbon-absorbing crops.   It is therefore very appropriate that this year’s Greener by Design Conference in November will focus on “The Impact of Electric and Hybrid propulsion in Aviation”.   All aspects of Aviation will come under increasing scrutiny in the years ahead to ensure that we as a sector play our part in husbanding the globe’s resources.  We have already seen the impact on residual values of aircraft caused by the rapid introduction of more fuel efficient aircraft and propulsion systems, and there will be many more disruptive effects which have the potential to markedly change business models, skills requirements, and the size and shape of our sector.  As a Learned Society, it is vital that we contribute to and refresh the body of knowledge around new topics such as new materials and manufacturing processes, applications of novel technologies for thermal management, and use of big data and Artificial Intelligence.  I therefore want to challenge our Specialist Groups to examine the balance of their work and events to ensure that adequate attention is being paid to creating and nurturing new knowledge in areas relevant to the rapid advancements in our sector.

The recent announcement that the Ministry of Defence is in talks with Boeing to replace the RAF fleet of ageing E-3 Sentry aircraft with E-7 Wedgetail is very good news for the Royal Air Force, for Boeing, and for the other suppliers who will be involved in introducing and sustaining the new aircraft in the UK.  It is right that any nation’s military forces receive the best technology available, and that may mean buying from offshore sources, particularly if that drives inward investment into the UK as we are seeing from companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. However there is a risk that over time the capability of the UK defence industrial base to provide anything more than touch labour and in-service repair schemes could be eroded to the point of no longer being sustainable.  Whilst UK companies are highly competitive at sub-system level, reflected in their status as suppliers to many global platforms, UK programmes which have national content and high-value Intellectual Property at Tier 1 design/integration partner level are notable by their absence in recent awards.  If the UK is to retain Freedom of Action then strategic investment through initiatives such as Project Tempest needs to build technology capability which makes UK industry a top-tier partner of choice in future programmes – a level of ambition much higher than a “me too” programme to match ongoing projects in other nations/regions. Recent participation of the Society in studies supporting the Future Combat Air Strategy is hugely welcomed, and we will continue to work with government to make high quality contributions to policy formulation in support of such ambition.

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.