•         Rolls-Royce employee Rory Clarkson becomes first recipient of CAA safety award for his work on volcanic ash

•         His work means any disruption caused by future eruptions would be significantly less

•         Award presented by HRH Prince Michael of Kent and Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg

Ground-breaking work undertaken in the UK to safely reduce the disruption volcanic ash can cause to aviation has won the UK Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) new flight safety award. 

Rory Clarkson, an engineer at Rolls-Royce in Derby, who won the award has been a leading figure in the aviation industry's efforts to safely reduce the disruption that volcanic ash can cause. When the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in 2010 Europe's aviation system was severely disrupted. One of the prime reasons for this was the lack of data on the level of volcanic ash that modern jet engines could safely fly in. Since then Rory has been researching and developing a new set of higher levels for the UK manufacturer's engines that will influence how the world deals with volcanic ash.

For the first time the industry now has a set of data and a model to use during any ash event. This will ensure aircraft engines don't become damaged by volcanic ash while at the same time allowing airlines to fly as much as possible, safely reducing the disruption to passengers.

Commenting on the presentation of the award Dame Deirdre Hutton, Chair of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “We are delighted to name Rory as the recipient of our Flight Safety Award 2018. He has made a major contribution to the industry's understanding of the volcanic ash risk, which will greatly enhance our collective ability to deal with any future ash cloud event.  

“This is exactly the kind of thing we feel should be celebrated and encouraged and we look forward to recognising similar contributions in the years to come.”

 The inaugural award was presented at a ceremony on 6 February 2018 at the Houses of Parliament, attended by aviation industry leaders and politicians. His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, alongside Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg made the presentation to Rory. The new Flight Safety Award aims to recognise an individual or organisation's significant contribution to aviation safety.

Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: “I am delighted to present Rory with the inaugural Civil Aviation Authority Flight Safety Award. 

“We all remember the disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud and Rory's work on the potential impact of volcanic ash on jet engines is an outstanding contribution to aviation safety, demonstrating the kind of innovative work that is vital to this field.”

Simon Burr, Rolls-Royce, Director - Engineering & Technology, Civil Aerospace, said: “At Rolls-Royce we pride ourselves on the expertise and dedication of our aerospace engineers. Rory has pioneered a technique which the aerospace industry has been waiting decades for and which will have a genuine positive day-to-day impact on passengers across the world. We congratulate Rory on this important achievement.”

The CAA had previously presented an annual safety award to a member of the general aviation community for a one-off, or sustained contribution to private flying safety standards. The new award broadens the scope of the prize to include any individual or organisation that has made a significant and tangible safety impact - in any area of aviation.


Notes to editors:

The CAA is the UK's specialist civil aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.

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