Stephen Hillier has been selected as the next chairman of the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
The former head of the Royal Air Force is the preferred candidate of transport secretary Grant Shapps.
He will hope to balance airlines’ immediate needs resulting from reduced passenger demand in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with consumer issues such as the refund backlog due to cancelled services.
Hillier will also seek to strengthen the regulator as Brexit takes the UK out of the European Aviation Safety Agency.
This will include preparing the organisation to certify the design of new aviation products and formulating proposals for new aviation safety legislation.
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.”
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 40 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 August 1st.
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.
“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.”
Hillier replaces Deirdre Hutton, who steps down after 11 years as the chair.
During this period, Hutton has overseen a period of significant change at the Civil Aviation Authority, notably the introduction of risk-based safety regulation and putting consumers and the heart of the organisation.