Farnborough Air Show

RAS’s quest is to be more inclusive

 - July 16, 2010, 2:16 AM

Qatar Airways is set to be made the newest corporate partner of the Royal Aeronautical Society. The membership will be conferred on Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker here at the Farnborough airshow by the Society’s new chief executive, Simon Luxmoore.

The expansion of the corporate partner scheme is a prime example of how the Society is seeking to expand its connection with the wider aerospace, defense and air transport industries. But at the core of its updated strategic plan is a firm commitment to preserve its ability to serve as a truly independent forum for key issues, while also working more closely with direct industry advocates such as the UK’s new Aerospace, Defence and Space trade group.

There are now about 170 corporate partners of the Society, and Luxmoore feels that so far it has only scratched the surface in terms of extending its international scope and the individual categories of membership. The former Messier-Dowty CEO also wants to include more non-engineers on the Society’s membership rolls and to boost the involvement of members at all stages in their careers, but most notably the 18 to 25-year-olds and those aged between roughly 28 and 45 who perhaps feel they aren’t yet at the right stage in their careers to be able to contribute to the work of the Society (Hall 1 Stand B26).

“Aviation and aerospace is a far broader church than just designing airplanes,” Luxmoore told AIN. “All sorts of people are touched by what we do in this huge industry. A proportion of our members are engineers, but by no means are they a majority, and we need to do more to welcome them into the fold and let them participate.”

On a more pragmatic level, the Society faces the challenge of maintaining its financial viability now that it has bought its exceptional headquarters building, 4 Hamilton Place, in the heart of London. Luxmoore acknowledged that some rationalization of the cost structure may be necessary. At the same time, with the generous support of Airbus and Rockwell Collins, he has set about the task of bringing its information technology infrastructure into the 21st century and has plans to significantly boost its online presence and use of the Internet to engage with members. It is also establishing a new foundation, specifically tasked with long-term fund raising.

Ultimately, the key first step in just about all aspects of the Society’s new strategic plan is to more graphically demonstrate the value it brings to members and to the world of aeronautics. “We don’t just want to collect subscriptions,” concluded Luxmoore. “We must demonstrate the benefits we bring and not just assume that we will always there.”