It has been crucial to the success of the Aerospace Industry Awards that the ultimate selection of winners is made by an independent and respected panel of judges from across the industry. This year's panel, which met in London on 16-17 April under the chairmanship of Flight International's editor-in-chief Allan Winn, again brought together judges with a formidable blend of expertise.

Their search is for companies or organisations which had not only achieved success in their own right, but whose achievements promise to have, an impact on the industry as a whole.

For example, this year's Awards clearly reflect the advances in avionics and air-navigation systems which are improving levels of safety and reliability in air transport and general aviation. Other innovations are recognised for making technology more accessible or affordable. Finally, there are some products which deserve recognition simply for setting new benchmarks in performance, such as Sukhoi's thrust-vectored Su-37.

Although the broad aim is to select a winner and two finalists in each category, the judges are free to withhold an Award if there is no suitable candidate, or to name joint winners if two entries are equally strong. That happened this year in the Systems & Components category where the judges felt it impossible to divide Meggitt and BFGoodrich, both of which have launched advanced standby flight-instrument systems within weeks of each other.

In the Space & Missiles category, the panel also thought it unfair to judge between such different entries as Surrey Satellite Technology's pioneering work on affordable microsatellite designs and the impressive performance of Rafael's Python-4 air-to-air missile. Instead, each was named as a winner for work in their respective fields.

It is also worth noting that the achievement should have been completed, or at least reached a major milestone, during the year under review. The judges made the point that some of the unsuccessful entrants from this year's competition were engaged in excellent, but as yet uncompleted projects, and should consider entering again for the 1998 Awards.

Air Marshal Sir Roger Austin recently retired from the Royal Air Force after a distinguished career spanning 39 years. He is now president-elect of the Royal Aeronautical Society. His early career was spent flying the Hawker Hunter and Harrier, and after a series of command posts, he joined the procurement executive of the UK Ministry of Defence in 1987. He rose to become Controller Aircraft and then Deputy Chief of Defence Procurement (Operations) in 1995, where he oversaw aircraft and weapon system projects across the UK armed forces.

Tony Broderick is among the leading world authorities on aviation safety. As Associate Administrator for Regulation and CertiÌcation at the US Federal Aviation Administration, he made a major contribution to international air safety over nearly two decades. In 1995 he was named as Flight International Aerospace Personality of the Year for his handling of a series of key issues, including taking the lead on exposing safety shortfalls among carrier from less-developed air nations. Since leaving the FAA in 1996, Broderick has been in demand as an international safety consultant. Professor Rigas Doganis has headed the Department of Air Transport at the UK's world-renowned Cranfield University since 1991. He was also asked to put his 30 years of international experience as an aviation academic and consultant into practice in 1995 when he took a year's leave from Cranfield to take on the role of chairman and chief executive at Greek flag carrier Olympic Airways. He quickly launched a major restructuring programme at the airline which resulted in the Greek airline showing its first profits for 18 years.

Peter Lok retired a year ago as director of Hong-Kong's Civil Aviation Department (CAD), after four decades with the service. He began his career in 1956 as the first ab intio trainee taken on by the department, which had previously drawn on UK expertise. He gained broad experience within the CAD, which acts as a mini aviation authority handling everything from airport services to route and crew licensing , and was appointed director in 1990. He has developed important links with mainland China and advised on flight standards for the Civil Aviation Administration China.

Source: Flight International