PARIS AIR SHOW: Aviation history buff makes history of his own

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It can't be often that Paris hears the UK's virtues proclaimed in a French accent, but thanks to Bruno Esposito it's happening at the show.

In September, he joined the Society of British Aerospace Companies (hall 2B, GF86) as director of civil air transport, becoming the first non-national to hold an executive position at the association, which was founded in 1916.

"I'm making history!" declares Esposito, who does not believe that the SBAC's French equivalent GIFAS would ever recruit from beyond its borders.

After stints as an air traffic control and fighter pilot, Esposito moved to London in 1989 to work for Inmarsat. He subsequently worked as consultant specialising in unmanned air systems and avionics, with Finmeccanica among his clients.

His relationship with his adopted homeland extends to a fascination with its aviation history. Esposito - who counts himself in Europe's top five collectors of aeronautical memorabilia and owns his own 1932 Caudron Luciole biplane - is particularly obsessed by the Royal Flying Corps, a First World War-era precursor to the Royal Air Force.

Studies of the UK's aviation history have left Esposito somewhat mournful for what has been lost: namely its aircraft manufacturing industry. He salutes Britten Norman for "still existing" as the nation's sole airframer.

However, he is naturally upbeat about UK aerospace players' prospects, citing its "pragmatic approach", global focus and preparedness to enter international partnerships, all perhaps reflected in his own appointment. He also hails UK industry's record of innovation and entrepreneurship, established despite what he says is a lower level of government support than that allocated by other nations. "More money would be useful," he says.

Esposito acknowledges that he is continually asked how it is possible for a Frenchman to work for a British trade association, but he is sanguine about it. It is a great "ice-breaker", he reckons.