About us

ABOUT US

Founded in 1909, the Air League is the UK’s leading aviation and aerospace charity with a vision focused on changing lives through aviation. It breaks down the barriers into these industries through its scholarships and outreach programmes.

What we do

The Air League not only inspires, enables, and supports the next generation of aviation and aerospace professionals from all backgrounds across the UK through its outreach schemes, but uses these programmes as a catalyst to spark the inspiration and realisation that opportunities and possibilities are accessible to anyone.

changing lives through aviation

Each year thousands of individuals around the UK benefit from Air League support, including disadvantaged youngsters and wounded and injured servicemen and women. Equally important is ensuring this next generation of aviation and aerospace leaders are at the forefront of developing greener and more sustainable technologies as the UK works towards a net-zero future.

supporting our industries

The Air League supports the UK’s aviation and aerospace industries through Parliamentary events and position papers which articulate the advanced technologies and crucial industry skills which are vital to the economic success of the UK. The Air League’s annual programme of events and lectures provide members with insight across a broad spectrum of subjects and a unique networking opportunity.

HRH THE PRINCE PHILIP DUKE OF EDINBURGH KG KT

Patron of the Air League
1952 - 2021

Key people

Sir Christopher Harper KBE FRAeS

President

John Steel QC FRAeS FRGS FRSA

Chairman

President

Deputy President

Mr W R C Foyle DL

Vice-Chairman of the Air League

Vacant

Life Vice-Presidents

Sir B K Burridge KCB CBE ADC

Mr T M Holloway

Sir M Knight KCB AFC

Mr K D R Mans

The Rt Hon Baron Tebbit CH

Mr C M H Walkinshaw

The board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees oversee the efficient and legal running of the Air League Trust in furtherance of its objects and in accordance with its Articles.

New Trustees are identified, selected and appointed by the existing Trustees and they serve for a period of three years and may be re-elected for a further three-year term before standing down. Trustees are unpaid.

Anita Bernie

Trustee

Jeremy Greaves FRAeS

Trustee

Grenville Hodge

Honorary Treasurer

Zoë Layden FRAeS

Trustee

Tony Keeling OBE RAF

Trustee

Claire MacAleese FRAeS

Trustee

Nick Whitney MBE FRAeS

Trustee

Anita Bernie

Trustee

Jeremy Greaves FRAeS

Trustee

Grenville Hodge

Honorary Treasurer

Zoë Layden FRAeS

Trustee

Tony Keeling OBE RAF

Trustee

Claire MacAleese FRAeS

Trustee

Nick Whitney MBE FRAeS

Trustee

Council of the air League

The Council of the Air League is an advisory and consultative body composed of senior leaders within UK aviation, aerospace and defence.

Council has convened since the founding of the League in 1909 and works closely alongside the Board of Trustees in supporting the Air League’s strategic aims and objectives. The Council also identifies any matters concerning aviation, aerospace, and defence that the Air League should engage in, support or highlight.

Council members will serve a three-year term and may be invited to serve for a second, consecutive term before standing down.

Council members

Mr S Baker MP

Sir J Brazier TD

Ms V Cope FRAeS

Mr J Counsell

Mr R Courts MP

Mr S J Fitz-Gerald

Baroness Garden of Frognal

Mr J Goodsir 

Baron Davies of Gower

Sir G Howarth

Dr B Humphreys

Mr S A Pendry MRAeS

Professor I Poll

Mr C Tarry

Mr H Wheeldon

OUR PARTNERS

Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper KBE FRAeS

Sir Chris served in the Royal Air Force for over 40 years. Having learned to fly as an Air Cadet, he joined the RAF as a fighter pilot in 1976. He flew numerous aircraft including the SEPECAT Jaguar, the McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet and, more recently, the Eurofighter Typhoon. He was involved in active operations over Iraq and in the Balkans and commanded at all levels of the Royal Air Force including as the Commander of RAF Coltishall and the RAF Jaguar Force (1999 to 2001), and as Air Officer Commanding of No 1 Group (2007 to 2009).

Sir Chris also held important staff appointments in the UK Ministry of Defence and at the RAF’s Air Command headquarters. His last 7 years in the Royal Air Force saw him working with NATO. From 2009 to 2011 he was Deputy Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command at Brunssum in the Netherlands; following that, he was the UK’s Military Representative to NATO and the EU. More recently, from 2013 to 2016, he was Director General of the NATO International Military Staff. From this high-level military-diplomatic position in NATO’s HQ in Brussels, he managed the Alliance’s political-military seam and was responsible for developing, negotiating and gaining consensus amongst NATO’s 28 allies for innumerable major NATO strategic policy decisions.

Sir Chris left the Royal Air Force in January 2017. Determined not to let his experience in aviation and the international defence and security domain go to waste, he started a small, independent consultancy company, CH4C Global Ltd, based in Norfolk, UK. The company advises companies such as Improbable, Adarga, Eagle Eye Innovations, Harmonic and, most recently, Accenture.

Sir Chris has a passion for harnessing new, innovative, positively disruptive technology for application in the defence and security sector. He regularly speaks at key events such as the Munich and Berlin Security Conferences and at Wilton Park and was appointed a Non-resident Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council of the United States in 2017. Maintaining his links with the RAF, Sir Chris is the Honorary Air Commodore of No 2620 ‘County of Norfolk’ Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force based at RAF Marham. He is also a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society; he serves on the Society’s Council and on the Committee of its Air Power Group. Sir Chris served as a Trustee of the Air League from 2016 until relinquishing that role on being appointed the League’s President in December 2020. He maintains a lifelong love of flying; he built and flies a Vans RV-8 aircraft in which he and his wife Jan tour regularly.

John Steel QC FRAeS

John is recognised as a leading practitioner in aviation, aerospace, planning, transport and environmental law. John was for a number of years the honorary legal adviser to The Air League and was elected Chairman in December 2017.

As a Barrister his clients include airports, airlines, aerospace companies, major utilities and industrial companies in the UK and elsewhere, as well as banks, insurers, Government departments and agencies, local authorities, NGOs and individuals. He has been involved in some of the leading cases in matters such as major airport development, aviation law, planning and environmental law, noise and key infrastructure projects including new roads, motorways, railways, tramways, ports, guided busways, power stations and waste to energy plants.

In aviation and aerospace, high-profile cases have included the development of London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London Stansted airports, as well as the development and use of regional and other airports at London Luton, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Coventry, Farnborough, London Oxford, Biggin Hill, Southend, Newcastle, East Midlands, Liverpool John Lennon, Sheffield, RAF Northolt, Dunsfold, Fairoaks, Plymouth, and a number of smaller General Aviation aerodromes and proposed heliports. He is the joint author of one of the key papers submitted to the Davies Commission on UK Airport Capacity in 2014 and has been appointed the legal adviser to the All Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation in the UK Parliament.

John is a well-known senior practitioner with a detailed knowledge of the design, workings and regulation of airports and aerospace both in the civil/airline as well as military/defence sectors, involving the UK CAA, Ministry of Defence, Department for Transport, NATS, Eurocontrol, EASA, ICAO, airport operators and airlines, on the use and regulation of airports and aircraft, including the three dimensional aspects of air traffic control, radar, aircraft safety and accidents, airport design and surface access.

He has represented and advised or been involved with major international and other airlines both in the courts, at public inquiries and in government commissions and consultations. He has been a contributor on behalf of the airline industry to aviation policy documents including the UK Aviation and Airport Policy published by the UK Government.

Clients have included various Airport Operators and Authorities, Airlines and Aircraft Operators, Cargo Operators and Aviation and Aerospace Organisations and Companies including BAA, British Airways, BMI, BAE Systems, Farnborough International, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Low Cost Airlines including Ryanair and EasyJet, Flybe, TAG Aviation, Gama Aviation, Hangar 8, BBGA, and AOPA. Private individuals have included the Reuben Brothers, Dial Partners, banks and other airport owners, investors and operators.

John has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a member of the Aviation Club of the UK, with affiliation to the Aerospace Forum Asia, The Aero Club of Washington and The International Aviation Club, also in Washington.

His practical knowledge as an instrument rated fixed wing (aeroplane) pilot, a qualified rotary (helicopter) pilot, and his regular flying both in the UK and abroad is an invaluable addition to his skills when involved in aviation and aerospace matters professionally.

He trained as a scientist with an Honours degree in Chemistry with subsidiary computing, and holds qualifications in law and international arbitration. He is an Honorary Fellow of Law at the University of Durham, UK, and was appointed to the Advisory Board of Durham Law School, the Durham Global Security Institute and sits as a Recorder/Judge in the Crown and County Courts of England and Wales.

Anita Bernie

Anita joins the Air League having recently been appointed Managing Director of MDA UK, having overarching responsibility for all UK business; tasked with leading the operational delivery of mission-critical programmes, developing customer relationships and scaling the business.

Anita previously led Strategy and Execution activities at Farnborough-based start-up KISPE Space Systems Limited, supporting the growth of capabilities and opportunities to enable teams to leverage the benefits of space and space-enabled systems and knowledge, to make difficult challenges a reality and to apply new technology and approaches for the betterment and enhancement of humankind.

Anita is also an Honorary Group Captain in Royal Air Force 601 Squadron, providing insights on Space matters to RAF and MOD personnel.

She is also a member of the Board of Directors at nanosatellite pioneers AAC Clyde Space, which provides Space Data As A Service, Missions, Products and Components to worldwide customers and is a Board Member of the Institute of Directors, which has a Royal Charter to support, represent and set standards for business leaders nationwide.

Anita possesses an Aerospace Engineering Degree and an MBA and is active in STEM and Mentoring outreach activities for schoolchildren as young as 4 years of age through to undergraduates and early careers candidates, including events with organisations such as the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Science Museum.

Jeremy Greaves FRAeS

Jeremy Greaves has been at Airbus for more than fifteen years, in a number of diverse international roles covering Communications and PR, Business Development and latterly as Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Strategy in the UK. Presently he is also the interim head of UK Public Affairs.

He is an Honorary Captain, Royal Naval Reserve, and a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS).

Prior to Airbus he held increasingly senior positions in assorted London based marketing companies, the Defence Procurement Agency, Lockheed Martin UK and EADS.

Grenville Hodge

Grenville joined the Air League as Honorary Treasurer in May 2019. He has spent most of his working life in aerospace joining the industry from university with a degree in aeronautical engineering. He initially specialised in manufacturing before moving to general management in the light aircraft business where he was Managing Director of Brooklands Aerospace which manufactured the Optical aircraft. He subsequently spent over 20 years with BAE Systems where he worked in the Regional Aircraft, Airbus and Defence businesses and his final role was Group Audit Director.

Zoe Layden FRAeS

Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Zoë is a graduate from Tufts University. Professionally she is a risk management expert with over 30 years experience in the international insurance sector, specialising in aviation and aerospace. She is currently Managing Director of her own consultancy firm.

Prior to her current appointment Zoë was broker relationship and Chief Underwriting Office Airline Director at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty. She was responsible for portfolio management and strategic direction of the airline practice underwritten. Zoë previously spent 16 years at Willis Ltd in London and New York where she held a number of key production and management roles.

Tony Keeling OBE RAF

Tony joined the Royal Air Force in 1987 as an Apprentice technician before qualifying as an engineer officer in 1999. With many years spent at the front line supporting global operations and exercises, Tony has also worked in in the Ministry of Defence in London, the Joint Headquarters at Northwood and Headquarters Air Command at High Wycombe. He first joined the Board of Trustees when Station Commander of RAF Wittering, and Tony is now Commandant of the RAF Air Cadets. Tony is the RAF’s LGBT+ Advocate, sits on the RAF’s D&I Steering Group and is a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s D&I Leadership Group.

Claire MacAleese FRAeS

Claire runs communications for the Boeing Company across Europe and Israel. An experienced corporate affair professional, with notable involvement in aerospace and defence, Claire is a former UK government special advisor to the Secretary of State for Transport and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Nick Whitney MBE FRAeS

Nick is Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK. Prior to this, he held the position of Director UK Sales & Export Campaigns within the Leonardo Helicopters Division.

His career started at Plessey Marine where he undertook an engineering apprenticeship. He joined Westland Helicopters Engineering Division in 1983 working on several different aircraft programmes, reaching the position of Chief Engineer. Nick then moved into Technical Support and Customer Training before his final appointment as Senior Vice President of the UK Government Business Unit, where he was accountable for all business with the UK Ministry of Defence with contracts ranging from aircraft build and modification to long term support contracts.

In 2012 Nick joined Marshall Aerospace as Managing Director of Operational Support Services. He was responsible for aircraft projects and services for both the Ministry of Defence and other international customers, as well as holding responsibility for the activities delivered through Marshall’s Australian and Canadian offices. In this role Nick oversaw a dramatic turnaround in delivery performance leading to much greater availability of the UK C130 fleet as well as much improved relationships with all customers.

He moved to Boeing Defence, Space & Security in January 2015 as Director of Sales & Marketing for the UK and Europe. During his time in this role, Boeing secured orders for P8 Poseidon aircraft, Apache E helicopters, E7 Wedgetail aircraft and was selected for the UK LANCA programme.

Nick attended the first Executive Masters of Defence Administration course at the Royal Military College of Science, graduating in 1994. He also attended the Top Management Programme run by the UK Government Cabinet Office in 2005 and the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) in 2009.

In 2003 he was awarded an MBE for services to aviation. He is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a freeman of the City of London and a member of the Coachmakers Livery Company.

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