Obituary: Ex-Shorts chairman Philip Foreman was leading light in the field of aeronautics
Sir Philip Foreman was a leading figure in the British aeronautical industry and a former managing director and chairman of Shorts. He was 89.
He made his name nationally and internationally in the aeronautical business, and made a significant contribution to the economic life of Northern Ireland, where he made his home.
He was widely regarded as one of the most important industrial figures in Northern Ireland in the second half of the 20th century.
Philip Foreman was born in Suffolk and educated at Soham Grammar School in Cambridgeshire. He won a scholarship to Loughborough College. In 1943 he graduated with a first-class honours degree in mechanical engineering. He wanted to join the Royal Navy, but was turned down because of his colour-blindness. Instead, he worked for the Royal Naval Scientific Service from 1943-1958. He then joined the guided-weapons team at Short Brothers, where he was responsible for all shipborne and depot equipment associated with the Seacat missile weapon system.
During his career at Shorts he was managing director from 1967 and also chairman from 1983-88, during which time the company made a major contribution to world aeronautical manufacture, including guided missiles, commuter aircraft and aerostructures. The company was later taken over by the Canadian Bombardier group.
The industrial correspondent Eric Waugh once noted that when Foreman took over the firm it had accumulated debts of some £12m at a time when a weekly household bill was only about £7. The fact that the company had become a "saleable, surviving entity" prior to the Bombardier acquisition "was a tribute to the team and to Sir Phil Foreman's leadership of it".
Sir Philip was awarded many honours, including a CBE in 1972 and a knighthood in 1981. He was president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1985. He was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1980 and he was awarded a honorary DSc from Queen's University in 1976. He was a Belfast Harbour Commissioner from 1974-79 and also a member of the Senate of Queen's University (1993-2002).
Sir Philip is survived by his wife Margaret, son Grahame, daughter-in-law Serina and twin grandchildren Cormac and Ambrose.