The Honourable Company of Air Pilots

The Honourable Company of Air Pilots

Formerly The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (GAPAN)

Origin and Function

The Honourable Company of Air Pilots, otherwise known as ‘The Air Pilots’, was established as the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in London in 1929. Its senior level of membership, which constitutes the majority of its membership, is restricted to current or former professional airmen, experienced in operating both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft in the airlines, corporate aviation and in all branches of the armed forces. The Company membership also includes many private pilot licence holders active in every area of sport and recreational flying. These members include pilots with a very wide range of experience around the world which extends from military and civil types flown at supersonic speeds to microlights, gliders and balloons.

The constitution of the Company explicitly forbids it from engaging in trade union activity and it is entirely apolitical. This distinguishes it from the Airline Pilots' Associations and enables it to form and to promote a truly unbiased, professional and experienced view on operational aviation matters. The Company is concerned with every technical aspect of flying from safety to navigational aids, from airport facilities to training methods and with new developments in aircraft and their handling. The pre-eminent formal objective of the Company is “to establish and maintain the highest standards of air safety through the promotion of good airmanship”

The principal activities of the Company are centred on sponsoring and encouraging action and activities designed to support the safe piloting of aircraft by individuals who are “highly competent, self-reliant, dependable and respected”. The Company works to promote aviation and in particular to support the sound selection and training of professional air pilots. This is achieved through charitable activities, technical committee work, pilot aptitude testing, scholarships and sponsorships and also by recognition of the achievements of fellow aviators world-wide.

Although taking the ancient form of a City of London Livery Company for the ‘trade’ of the piloting of aircraft and holding a Royal Charter, it also has active branches in North America, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand and overseas mmembers resident in other parts of the world, which facilitate a global view of aviation matters rather than a purely UK one. In this latter respect, it is unique amongst the City Livery Companies. Its ‘technical’ activities include the publication and distribution of generic ‘Safety Briefing Notes’ for commercial air transport pilots. 

Governance of the Company follows the traditional Livery Company model. The business of the Company is overseen by a Court (effectively the Board), led by the Master who is elected for a term of office limited without exception to one year), which consists of elected Wardens and Assistants and (non voting) Past Masters. The Secretariat is managed by the Clerk to the Company, who is effectively the Chief Executive Officer. There is provision for the appointment of a Patron (formerly HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG KT) and an honorary Grand Master (formerly The Prince Andrew, Duke of York). 

The Offices of the Company are at Air Pilots House, 52A Borough High Street London SE1 1XN.

The Air Pilots and SKYbrary

The Company is an active partner of SKYbrary and controls the content of a number of articles which they have reviewed, amended where appropriate and endorsed:

Further Information

For more information, visit the Air Pilots website


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