Former RAF head set for CAA chair appointment

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced the former head of the Royal Air Force, Sir Stephen Hillier, as his preferred candidate to become the new Chair of the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Following an open competition, Hillier was selected by the Transport Secretary as the candidate best suited to lead the Civil Aviation Authority through the Covid-19 response and recovery.

He will aim to balance airlines’ immediate needs resulting from reduced passenger demand, with consumer issues such as the refund backlog due to cancelled services.

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Hillier will oversee the enhancement of the Civil Aviation Authority’s reputation as a leading aviation regulator, as the UK leaves the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This will include preparing the organisation to certify the design of new aviation products and formulating proposals for new aviation safety legislation.

Hillier will also look to build on the Government’s vision to innovate and modernise the aviation industry, making flying greener and more efficient, as well as driving cutting-edge technologies to ensure the UK maintains its position as a world leader in aviation.

Commenting, transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is an extremely challenging time for the aviation industry, unlike anything we have faced, so the need for an inspiring and experienced leader is vital. I’d like to thank Dame Deirdre Hutton for her support and leadership over the last 11 years and to welcome Sir Stephen Hillier.”

Adding: “Sir Stephen’s incredible knowledge and experience in aviation will be invaluable during this period and I’m confident he will excel addressing the challenges presented by Covid-19. I am also excited to work with him and support the Civil Aviation Authority’s new vision once the industry is back on its feet.”

The announcement went on to detail how Hillier’s primary task will be working to ensure the UK maintains its excellent aviation safety and security record. He was the head of the RAF from 2016 to 2019, having served in the RAF for almost forty years.

He is a qualified pilot and flying instructor, and has significant experience in managing multiple agencies and suppliers as part of an earlier role as the Ministry of Defence’s principal military customer for equipment and infrastructure. He will take up his post as Non-Executive Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority, starting on 1 August 2020.

On the new role, Sir Stephen Hillier said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to help lead the Civil Aviation Authority through the enormous challenges which lie ahead: maintaining our excellent safety record and promoting the UK’s world-leading aviation sector, while dealing with the consequences of Covid-19 and guiding us through our departure from EASA.”

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Alex Douglas

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