Geoff Connolly is in his 53rd flying year. He began flying with the RAFVR with the University of London Air Squadron, he later joined the RAF and was an operational helicopter pilot before becoming a flying instructor, and then graduating from the 1986 Class at the Empire Test Pilots School.
Following several years as a military test pilot at MoD Boscombe Down, Geoff joined Bristow Helicopters as Deputy Company Test Pilot, initially with a 'day-job' as an aeroplane and helicopter instructor, teaching student commercial pilots: around which was fitted some flight test project and evaluation work. Gradually assuming a more active test flying role, he progressed to become the company's Flight Test Manager and its Head of Flying for the UK MoD. He also spent a period as part of a joint-venture project team, working on a major collaborative public-private contract initiative: the UK Defence Helicopter Flying School. Amongst other facets of work in this role, he oversaw and flight-tested the modifications and civil/military certification for militarised versions of a fleet of 50 aircraft, for single- and multi-engine training. Latterly he was also the Bristow Company Flight Safety Officer, carrying out investigations and supervising a safety database for worldwide operations. During this period he flew part-time with a police air support unit. In 1999 Geoff took a step away from increasing management duties and returned to full-time flying, as a Civil Servant with the Metropolitan Police, before setting up his Flight Test consultancy, working for a number of Part-21 companies, and returning to Bristow as a Consultant Test Pilot in 2002.
He is EASA and Transport Canada (TC) Compliance Manager, and a visiting Flight Test Instructor, at the International Test Pilot School in Canada, and remains a Compliance Verification Engineer (Flight Test) for Bristow's EASA Part-21 approval. Geoff has led the Safety Audit Team for each Farnborough International Airshow since 2010, and was contracted to do so again for the cancelled 2020 show.
Geoff has over 11,000 hours flying experience, gained on over 80 types of helicopters and aeroplanes. He holds UK ATPL (H) and CPL (A) pilot licences, and a TC CPL (H). A highly experienced instructor on light aeroplanes and helicopters, he retired in 2019, from his role for 15 years as an EASA/UK Flight Examiner and Type Rating Examiner for Helicopters. He also has 9 years’ experience as a Flight Test Instructor.
Geoff is an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, an Upper Freeman of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, and an Associate Member of the British Helicopter Association.
Geoff previously served as a member of the UK Flight Safety Committee and of the UK Airprox Board. He currently serves on the BHA/CAA Onshore Committees, and the Air Pilots International Technical Forum (previously the Technical Committee). He is the Regional Safety Officer (London and South East) for the General Aviation Safety Council, and in this volunteering role helps present CAA-sponsored Safety Evenings at airfields and flying clubs. He is in current flying practice on helicopters and light aeroplanes.