A man who revolutionised the safety of flying in the Royal Navy has been recognised for his achievements with a prestigious trophy – and he comes from Helston.

Commander Ian Fitter, who grew up and went to school in the town before later serving three stints at RNAS Culdrose, will now forever have his name associated with the Cumberbatch Trophy, after being the latest recipient of the award presented by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators since 1936 to an individual, team or organisation for an outstanding contribution to air safety.

Cdr Fitter, who went to Parc Eglos School and Helston School, joined the Royal Navy in 1984 and in the years since has been responsible for an entire overhaul of safety systems that has meant that, since 2004, there has not been a single naval aircraft accident involving loss of life, while the number of aircraft accidents in general has reduced to previously unheard-of levels.

It was in 2003, after almost two full decades of flying experience culminating in him commanding a front-line squadron, that Cdr Fitter became only the second safety management advisor to Commodore Naval Aviation in Navy Command Headquarters.

Involved at the embryonic stages of the development of aviation safety management systems, he established himself an expert in this subject matter.

In 2005, he began the first of his two tours as the officer in command of the Royal Navy’s Flight Safety and Accident Investigation Centre, and as command flight safety officer.

He single-handedly changed attitudes towards legacy accident reports, making sure recommendations were followed up properly, and ensure other defence aviation accidents were also investigated properly when there was seemingly no capability to do so.

He also completely overhauled how the Navy’s flight safety promotion and training was delivered.

He brought his expertise to RNAS Culdrose with his appointment as Commander Air, responsible for flying standards and practices and every aspect of flight safety, and to date he is the longest serving Commander Air the Helston naval base’s 70-year history.

By the time he returned to the Navy’s Flight Safety Centre in 2012 attitudes had changed drastically and the Military Aviation Authority had been set up. This led him to introducing a pan-defence aviation error management system.

His citation accompanying his award reads: “There are many factors underlying this welcome reduction, but significant among them is Cdr Fitter’s outstanding and persistent commitment to promotion of aviation safety and learning from lessons identified.

“Consistently regarded as the Royal Navy’s ‘Mr Flight Safety’, his counsel and expertise is still sought even whilst in non-safety assignments.”

In 2015 Cdr Fitter returned to his home town to take up the post of executive officer at RNAS Culdrose, which he held until May this year.