Air Vice-Marshal Maria Byford


The mission of Chief of Staff Personnel and Air Secretary (COS Pers/Air Sec) is to manage the Royal Air Force’s Servicemen and women and to provide the supporting policies to enable an agile, adaptable and capable Air Force. 

COS Pers/Air Sec has the lead for all RAF recruitment and manning issues, including advising on senior appointments, officers, non-commissioned aircrew and ground trades careers. 

COS Pers/Air Sec is also responsible for operational manning issues plus the development and implementation of personnel policy and Reserves policy.


Air Vice-Marshal Maria Byford was appointed COS Personnel and Air Secretary in February 2020.

She joined the Royal Air Force in 1991, following graduation from Kings College London with a Bachelor in Dental Surgery and for the first half of her career looked after her patients in dental centres and military hospitals across the globe. She was appointed Queen’s Honorary Dental Surgeon in December 2016.

Leaving clinical delivery behind, Air Vice-Marshal Byford has since served in a wide variety of command and staff appointments across Defence, always with a strong focus on people. After a year on Advanced Command and Staff Course and a 3* Military Assistant role, she was promoted to Group Captain in 2011 and became Head of Personnel Division for the Surgeon General. In 2014 Air Vice-Marshal Byford deployed as the final Commander Medical on Op HERRICK, responsible for the closure of the Bastion Role 3 Trauma Field Hospital and the safe recovery of the UK Medical Group from Afghanistan. On her return and after a short spell as Commander Medical (RAF), she was selected for promotion to Air Commodore and appointed Head Future Healthcare, a post she held for 4 years before becoming Head of RAF Medical Services in February 2019.

Air Vice-Marshal Byford is the RAF’s Deputy Diversity and Inclusion Champion and is passionate about fair, transparent and inclusive treatment of the Whole Force. She is very proud to be Honorary President for Staffordshire Wing RAF Air Cadets, and in January 2020 she received the President’s invitation to become a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.