Frenchman Bruno Esposito joined the Society of British Aerospace Companies as director of civil air transport in September 2008. After spells as a fighter pilot and air traffic controller, he worked for Finmeccanica and BAE Consulting and is an expert on unmanned air vehicles in civil airspace.

What first got you interested in aviation?

My father died in 1966 in a crash while flying on a military aircraft. A few years later, I saw the first Concorde taking off from Toulouse. These two important factors in my life have always been in the background to guide my steps and career choices.

My brother is also a captain and chief pilot operating large business jets. I suppose it is in the family genes.

Talk us through your career before joining the SBAC

I started my professional career in the French air force and went on to join the French National Space Centre in Toulouse. In 1989, I was asked to join Inmarsat, at the time an inter-governmental organisation based in London and operating telecommunications satellites. I came over for what I thought would be a maximum of two to three years. I have been living permanently in the UK since then - 21 years.

Bruno Esposito - SBAC

Moving on from Inmarsat, I went into consultancy within the aviation sector. I also worked for the Zodiac Group in Paris as vice-president business development and international relations. I recently worked in an advisory capacity for the Finmeccanica Group on the commercial inception of unmanned air systems and avionics market trends.

I worked in an advisory role with the Russian ministry for energy and industry for a couple of years on aviation-related topics.

I also had the privilege to work as an international maritime expert for the International Maritime Organisation.

What does your job for the SBAC involve?

The role is similar to what I did at Inmarsat. The SBAC operates at national level, however, and to some extent it is much easier than to have to deal with 87 different governments.

Let us not underestimate the level of competition, even at a national level. Dealing with some of the best aerospace companies in the world as members of a trade association is challenging. Any activities undertaken by the SBAC on behalf of its members have to find a natural consensus.

What is it like as a Frenchman working with the UK industry organisation and playing a role in Le Bourget's big rival?

SBAC chief executive Ian Godden played a vital part in getting me on board along with a few senior aerospace industrialists.

My nationality has never been an issue. The SBAC is actually a truly international entity with about seven different nationalities represented at staff level.

The UK approach is always very pragmatic. The SBAC's vision is in tune with the aerospace industry. The aviation sector is by nature truly global.

I take it as a privilege to be given the task to promote and represent the UK industry. Let's also not forget that the UK aerospace industry represents around 17% of the global market share.

Do you still manage to fly? Presumably only for pleasure?

I fly my own aircraft - a real aircraft, not a computer-assisted aircraft. It is a 1932 Caudron Luciole biplane with a radial engine. The only one in the world. This requires passion, feelings and a great deal of understanding.

It requires also some specific mechanical expertise and skills. The team has two mechanics Michel Donato and Gabriel Schwartz and without these two guys I simply could not do it.

Source: Flight International