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Will Curtis, Managing Director, London Biggin Hill Airport

Will Curtis, Managing Director, London Biggin Hill Airport

The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), the world’s only professional body dedicated to the entire aerospace community, is to confer a Fellowship on Will Curtis, Managing Director at London Biggin Hill Airport.

The elite award recognises his contribution to the development of business aviation as a professional pilot and as a senior management aircraft operator whose skill and experience of twenty years standing has more recently turned to benefit the management of the leading business aviation airport at Biggin Hill.

Appointed Managing Director at London Biggin Hill Airport in October 2013, as a Board member he has shared responsibility for the management of a full public consultation regarding an extension to airport operating hours, which gained overwhelming public support among the local community.  Similarly, he has assisted the development a full business and investment  plan for the future of the airport operating company,  promoting London Biggin Hill as the fast-track gateway to Greater London for global business and corporate aviation; a home base for London-based business aircraft and a key location for aircraft support and service organisations.  The Board also have future plans that include the creation of an Aerospace Technical College, a high quality hotel and gradual development of the airport as a Strategic Outer London Development Centre leading to increased inward investment and an additional 2,300 jobs and apprenticeships by 2030.

Commenting on the Society’s award to Will Curtis, Martin Broadhurst, RAeS President, said that it is timely to appoint an acknowledged leader in Business Aviation into Fellowship.

“Fellowship (FRAeS) is the highest grade attainable and is only bestowed upon those in the profession of aeronautics or aerospace who either have made an outstanding contribution to the profession, attained a position of high responsibility and have had long experience of high quality in the profession.   Fellowship is highly regarded in the aerospace and aviation industry and it is fitting that Will is being recognised for his contribution to our industry” said Mr Broadhurst.

Established in 1866 to further the art, science and engineering of aeronautics, the RAeS has been at the forefront of aerospace development ever since.  The Society seeks to promote the highest professional standards in all aerospace disciplines; to act as a central forum for the exchange of ideas and to play a leading role in influencing opinion in aerospace matters.

The planned Technical College, when operational in 2017, will  provide a valuable asset for training young men and women in the  range of aerospace skills required to secure good jobs at the airport. Funding of £8M from the London Enterprise Partnership to establish the facility has already been earmarked using re-furbished buildings in the former RAF West Camp now owned by Mr Bernie Ecclestone who has committed his support for the project. The academic management will be provided by Bromley College and the training courses will provide for an extensive range of skills required by the modern aerospace industry.

Gaining an Airline Transport Pilots Licence at a young age. Will Curtis (51) was the fastest student to achieve his professional pilot qualifications at the time.  Starting from ab initio, he completed what is normally a 3-year course in just six months.

After a 4-year stint flying air survey aircraft around the UK and in Europe, he moved into business aviation as MD and part owner of Gold Air International.  Between 1995 and 1998, he established AOC operations initially at Cambridge airport, later at Biggin Hill where he introduced a fleet of new Lear Jet 45 aircraft for on-demand charter.  The company was sold to Air Partner in 2006.

In 2007, Curtis was appointed Group CEO of Rizon Group Holdings for a 2-year contract  based in Bahrein,  subsequently at Biggin Hill.  His objective included the development of 120,000 sq ft hangars at Doha and at Biggin Hill, obtaining AOC approvals in the UAE,  Doha and London.  He also introduced into service two Hawker 900 XP, two Challenger 600 and a Global XRS.

Recruited to  Perfect Aviation based in Switzerland in 2010 to restructure the company after an earlier failed merger, Curtis relocated many lower order functions of the aircraft management provider to Portuguese and UK offices , reducing costs by 50% over 12 months whilst increasing charter sales by 350% year on year.  Concurrently, he set up UK AOC and EASA 145 base and line maintenance facilities, moving premises to Biggin Hill to expand operations.  Overall, he contributed to increasing the value of the company from Sfr6M to Sfr12M over three years.

Mr Curtis will receive the award at a ceremony at the Society’s headquarters in central London later this year.