Sir Donald Spiers has announced he is to step down as chairman of the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC) after almost 20 years.
The government and industry veteran who was previously head of aerospace procurement for the UK’s armed forces has had a glittering career from when he began as a graduate apprentice.
The FAC’s managing director David Barnes paid tribute to his friend and colleague by saying his record of service to the FAC and industry was ‘unsurpassable’.
In the last two decades the FAC has become a significantly louder voice in the aerospace sector – and hugely influential during the last year with the Covid pandemic impacting so heavily on the industry at all levels
Sir Donald, 86, joined the army after school and was commissioned into the Royal Engineers, serving with 16 Parachute Brigade in Egypt.
He read mechanical sciences at Cambridge and served an apprenticeship with the de Havilland Engine Company before becoming a gas turbine development engineer.
In 1961 he joined the Air Ministry, and quickly became scientific adviser to the Far East Air Force before rising to become Assistant Chief Scientist to the RAF in the UK MOD.
After a distinguished scientific contribution to the MOD, in 1986 he was appointed Controller of Establishments, Research and Nuclear Programmes in the MOD.
From 1989 to 1994 he was Controller Aircraft in the MOD, responsible for the procurement of all aerospace materiel for the UK armed forces.
There were various directorships, fellowships and other positions of influence within the aerospace and defence sector.
David Barnes said: “The contribution Sir Donald has made to defence and the aerospace industry is exceptional by any standards.
“He worked his way up from being a graduate apprentice and deservedly was awarded the Territorial Decoration in 1966, Companion of the Bath in 1987 and a Knighthood in 1993.
“His work for the FAC has been remarkable and having worked alongside him I have seen first hand what he has done for the sector and how he has influenced decisions across the board.
“His knowledge, insight and enthusiasm are qualities we have benefitted enormously from, and by extension, so have all our members.
“This year has been the most difficult of all with the pandemic but Sir Donald has been speaking with his many high level contacts and lobbying hard to get assistance for the industry and its supply chain.”
In response Sir Donald said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be associated with the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium for the past 18 years.
“The aerospace sector is an important part of the economy and FAC members make a positive, vital, contribution to its working.”
“In recent years FAC has also led the way in promoting the National Aerospace Exploitation Programme (NATEP), with our technology managers supporting many of our members and others in obtaining Government grants under the scheme.
“Throughout my time as chairman I have been wonderfully supported by the successive CEOs and by the FAC team, without whom the consortium could not function.
“I send my best wishes, for the future, to all our members and I will take a keen interest in following and supporting the future activities of FAC.”
Sir Donald officially leaves at the end of the year and his replacement will then be announced.