Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Examination of witnesses (Questions 746 - 759)

WEDNESDAY 28 APRIL 1999

CAPTAIN STEVE KERR, MR PETER MARTIN, MR ROY HUMPHREYSON and MR BILL G SCULL

Chairman

  746.  Good afternoon to you, gentlemen. I am very grateful to you for joining us this afternoon. I wonder if you would kind enough to identify yourselves. Mr Scull?
  (Mr Scull)  I am Bill Scull, Vice-Chairman of the General Aviation Safety Council.
  (Mr Humphreyson)  Roy Humphreyson, Executive Manager of the UK Flight Safety Committee.
  (Captain Kerr)  Steve Kerr, current elected Chairman of the UK Flight Safety Committee.
  (Mr Martin)  I am Peter Martin. I am the Solicitor and the Honorary Legal Adviser to the Flight Safety Committee.

  747.  Can I ask either Mr Scull or you, Captain, if you have any introductory remarks you would like to make.
  (Captain Kerr)  The UK Flight Safety Committee is a non-executive organisation made up of the membership airlines, members of the Civil Aviation Authority and professional bodies associated with the broad mandate to promote aviation safety by means of exchange of safety information. That is our main cause. We meet eight times a year in full Committee and we have a series of working groups which are working in the background throughout the year on special projects.

  748.  Which produce policy papers you then debate?
  (Captain Kerr)  Policy papers which we offer to the industry authorities as advisory matters. We have no executive power as such; it is purely advisory information.

  749.  That is very helpful. Mr Scull?
  (Mr Scull)  The General Aviation Safety Council is a registered charity and it brings together all the aviation disciplines both manufacturing and aviation related supporting disciplines too. We meet four times a year and interchange safety problems, if you like, look at problems collectively and get ideas from each other with a view to continually seeking to improve safety.

  750.  Do you then circulate not only your members but, say, aviation magazines? How do you disseminate your standards of good practice?
  (Mr Scull)  Most of our material goes out through our flight safety bulletin which is sent free to all flying instructors and all registered owners of light aircraft. Only one copy goes to each aircraft although often there are syndicates. We do this with voluntary subscriptions from the member organisations and we actually sell to subscribers a limited number. We publish about 14,000 each issue and we sell about 1,200 of those. The rest go free to interested parties.

  751.  That is extremely helpful. What are the main safety issues confronting your sectors of the aviation industry? Let's try you, Captain Kerr.
  (Captain Kerr)  Safety issues as we see them at the moment are probably coming to terms with the advent of the Joint Aviation Authority, the JAA, and the move of the regulatory aspects into a European system as opposed to a national system here and identifying the areas of difficulty for airline operators in the changes which are necessary in the way they do their business to become more self-regulatory and to put into place the mechanics to achieve that.

  752.  I think we will come to that in a minute. What is your relationship with the Safety Regulation Group of the CAA?
  (Captain Kerr)  We have a very close relationship with the Safety Regulation Group. They provide several advisers and members to our committee meetings. Most of our work with the SRG is informal. We have privileged access to individuals and the opportunity to debate aspects of regulation and safety with them at the planning stage as opposed to once regulation has been put into place.

  753.  Let me ask you, Mr Scull, what is your relationship with the Safety Regulation Group?
  (Mr Scull)  It is good. Most of our work is involved with the Safety Regulation Group itself and within that group the General Aviation Department because that is what we are dealing with. They have a good open door policy and generally we have easy access so if we have a problem we want to talk about and if they think we have got a problem we have to talk about, they tell us, and we in fact have a Management Committee within the General Aviation Safety Council with the CAA person on it, the head of GAD.

  754.  To what extent do either of you think the Safety Regulation Group is under-staffed? Mr Scull, are you going to pick up this prickly branch?
  (Mr Scull)  One does find on occasion that it takes a while to get an answer to a letter. On the other hand, you can often pre-empt the letter by making a phone call and getting the same information that you will eventually get in the letter.

Mr Bennett

  755.  How long?
  (Mr Scull)  They do occasionally notify us that it will be a month before they answer the letter.

Chairman

  756.  They send you a letter to say it will be a month before they answer your letter?
  (Mr Scull)  Yes, if you push them.

Mr Donohoe

  757.  If you do not?
  (Mr Scull)  Sometimes you will get that information by virtue of a phone call asking what happened to the letter I wrote?

Chairman

  758.  What impact does that have on your work then?
  (Mr Scull)  Generally speaking, not serious. I think it is difficult. I have had fairly close liaisons down a lot of years and I know the staff cutbacks and the pressures and I know that there are within Flight Crew Licensing, for example, ebbs and flows which increase the demand and therefore cause delay if you have got an issue to debate.

  759.  Captain Kerr, do you want to comment?
  (Mr Martin)  May I comment.


 
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