CAA safety expert given top industry award for volcanic ash work

Wednesday 10, November 2010


CAA safety expert given top industry award for volcanic ash work


Padhraic Kelleher, Head of Airworthiness at the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has been presented with a major safety award for his role in the volcanic ash crisis of April and May 2010.


The International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA) presented the Whittle Award for 2010 to Padhraic at a volcanic ash conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society in Central London on 9 November.


In making the presentation, the IFA explained that the award honours the co-inventor of the jet engine, Sir Frank Whittle, and is the highest and most prestigious award the organisation can grant in recognition of an advance in aviation safety.


The citation of the award reads: ‘In recognition of his leadership in the co-ordination of international efforts to secure operational solutions to the risks presented by ash contamination of UK and European airspace by the Icelandic Volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, resulting in airworthiness criteria on ash tolerability and establishment of a safety risk management framework for flight in contaminated airspace.’


Receiving his award, Padhraic Kelleher said: “It is an honour to be presented with the Whittle Award. The events of April and May were challenging to say the least, with so many people working so hard behind the scenes to resolve the crisis. It is encouraging to know that our actions in putting public safety first and seeking an evidence based solution are appreciated by key industry bodies such as the IFA.” 


1. Padhraic Kelleher is Head of Airworthiness at the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

A member of the CAA Safety Regulation Group executive management team, Padhraic’s immediate responsibilities cover the airworthiness of UK-registered aircraft and the competence of UK organisations involved in the production or maintenance of civil aircraft and their components. He is also a Director of Air Safety Support International, a CAA subsidiary assisting UK overseas territories and a Non-executive Director of CAA International, the CAA’s commercial consultancy subsidiary.


Padhraic has held a range of CAA management and engineering posts, is a former European Joint Aviation Authorities Executive Board member and has served as the CAA’s lead adviser to Her Majesty’s Government on the development of the European Aviation Safety Agency. During the mid April 2010 initial response to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, Padhraic facilitated the work of aircraft and engine manufacturers to determine a tolerable volcanic ash density level for their products. Before joining the CAA, Padhraic worked for British Aerospace plc on a succession of BAe 125 and BAe 146 aircraft variants.


A graduate in electronic engineering from the National University of Ireland, and holder of an MSc in aerodynamics and flight control from Cranfield University, Padhraic is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.


2. The CAA is the UK's specialist 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 from an economic standpoint.



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