The Captain John Ashton Memorial Award

To recognise a professional pilot or organisation for an outstanding contribution to flight standards and aviation safety within Australia.


2020 Awarded to:  Captain Graham Stokes FRAeS


Captain Graham Stokes currently holds the position of Head of Training and Standards for Virgin Australia Group which includes Chief Executive Officer – Virgin Australia Part 142 Training Organisation, accountable for Flight Crew and Cabin Crew Training and Checking. He is also a B737-800 Captain.

Graham was born in the UK and educated at Windsor Grammar School from 1974 to 1981.  By 1983 he had become a Flying instructor at Wycombe Air Centre.  His Capt J Ashton Memorial Graham Stokescareer then moved to the Airlines with British Midland, Britannia Airways (B757/767), Cathay Pacific B747-400) and British Airways (B747-400 B737). He then joined the Civil Aviation Authority in 2006 as a Training Inspector and became Regional Manager (Flight Operations) for the Southern, Stirling & Stansted Regional Offices. He returned to the airlines in 2011, becoming Head of Flight Operations Training & Standards, Virgin Atlantic Airways, a role including

·        Head of Flight Operations Training & Standards, Virgin Atlantic Airways

·        EASA Post Holder for Crew Training

·        Head of Operations for Approved Training Organisation

·        Responsible for Flight Crew, Cabin Crew and Engineer training

·        Captain B747-400

·        TRI/TRE B747-400

·        Senior Examiner All Virgin types.

In 2016 he moved to his current role with Virgin Australia. Graham has a wealth of experience in the introduction of training programs both in Australia and previously in the UK including:

·        Responsible for introducing combined oversight and integration of 2 AOC training programmes at Virgin Australia

·        Senior Manager responsible for introduction of B787 into Virgin Atlantic

·        Introduction of robust Pilot Development Programmes at Virgin Atlantic & Virgin Australia

·        Introduced Cadet Pilot scheme at Virgin Atlantic (Led union negotiations)

·        Introduced 3-hour simulator sessions at Virgin Atlantic (driving productivity improvements)

·        ATQP Working Group;

i)       Chair of CAA / Industry working group,

ii)      Responsible for the development & introduction of ATQP in the UK, & for influencing within Europe and the Middle East.

iii)    Supported several UK airlines in setting up & introducing their ATQP programmes

·        Chair of two Catch-Up OEB’s for EASA, for the B757/767 & B747-400/-8.

·        Responsible for Flight Crew training course design, implementation and management at Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic Airways, British Airways &              Britannia Airways.
·        CAA Flight Operations Icing Gateway;

Away from his airline work, Graham is a Board member of the Royal Queensland Aero Club. While he was still in the UK he was a former Chief Flying Instructor - RAF Lyneham Flying Club Charity. This is a registered charity that promotes flying for young Airmen at heavily discounted rates.

For his service to the airline industry and the development of high training standards, Captain Graham Stokes FRAeS is awarded the 2020 Captain John Ashton Memorial Award.



previous winners:

2019  Captain David Evans

2020  Captain Graham Stokes FRAeS