November 2014

The conference season is well under way.  This month I will mention two recent conferences, with which I was involved, that illustrate the Society’s international engagement and influence.  This year’s International Flight Crew Training Conference attracted some 120 delegates from more than 20 countries.  It focused on the way ahead for a project that was conceived at the conference three years ago: the International Pilot Training Consortium.  The members of the consortium represent the key elements of the commercial aviation business and are: the International Air Transport Association; the International Civil Aviation Organisation; the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Association; and the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations; together with the Royal Aeronautical Society.  The group’s challenging aim is “to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of commercial aviation by developing international agreement on a common set of pilot training, instruction and evaluation standards and processes.”   The Society took the initiative to form the consortium and has provided a neutral Executive Chairman in Peter Barrett FRAeS. Further details of the conference are reported in AEROSPACE.

The other conference that I will mention was the President’s Conference on “The Strategic Choices for Space”.  This also attracted delegates from around the world, with a galaxy of senior keynote speakers.  The presence of the NASA Administrator, former astronaut Major General Charlie Bolden, and the Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, the Right Honourable Greg Clark MP, ensured widespread media coverage.  A full report on the conference will appear in a future edition of AEROSPACE.  The day before the conference we held an associated event for school-age students entitled “Over the Moon”.  The highlight of this was a Skype link-up, courtesy of the Space Foundation, with former astronaut Dr Leroy Chaio, who talked about his experiences in Space and answered questions from the students.

I was also delighted to attend the premier of a promotional film about the Schools Build A Plane Challenge.  This exciting film shows just why school children across the country have been enthused and inspired by becoming involved, in many different ways, in building an aeroplane in which they can fly.  It also highlights the commitment of the teachers leading each project and the vital role played by the many volunteers from the Society’s Branches and from the Light Aircraft Association, who are essential to mentor and quality check the work. The film clearly demonstrates the value of the practical learning that the Schools Build A Plane Challenge provides at different levels: to persuade students to study science, technology, engineering and maths subjects; to help them make sense of  what they learn in the classroom; and to encourage them to follow a career in aerospace and engineering.  In addition, it shows that those involved have learned valuable life skills.  The film, which can be viewed through a link on the Society’s web site, will help to showcase to a much wider audience the benefits of this flagship project and the attraction of a career in aerospace.

In this month’s edition of AEROSPACE and one the website at this link is the call for candidates to stand in next year’s election to the Council, together with information on the nomination process.  The closing date for nominations will be 31 January 2015.  We need good people from a wide range of backgrounds to be prepared to help to lead this Society.  May I encourage you to think about standing for Council or, perhaps, persuading someone else to stand?

Air Cdre Bill Tyack