Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-139)
11 JANUARY 2006
Q120 Chairman: No, I did not think
Mr Bell: gives the current
existing standard and, if you felt obliged, you would need to
compare that to the standard that was in existence pre-EASA and
I think we could make a very good case that we had removed a significant
number of regulations which we had decided ourselves were obsolete
before we entered the final process.
Mr Wilshire: Could we ask for a paper
on that very subject?
Q121 Chairman: Well, what I was going
to say to you is that I think we need to know a little bit more
about transparency generally, do we not, because we have seen
evidence saying that the Safety Regulation Group is running down
its Safety Research Department because you think it is going to
be part of the European remit in the future? Is that true?
Sir Roy McNulty: I will ask Mr
Bell first of all to comment.
Q122 Chairman: Mr Bell, now you have
started on the slippery slope, is it true?
Mr Bell: Yes.
Q123 Chairman: Why?
Mr Bell: Because the EASA Regulation
does provide for EASA itself to conduct appropriate safety-based
research in the future.
Q124 Chairman: And it also provides
for all of these other things which they are not doing and you
have, from your own experience, a clear indication that they are
not even capable of doing all the things that they are supposed
to be doing, so why would you run down your Research Department
before there is very clear evidence that an alternative exists?
Mr Bell: I think really the simplest
way I can answer that is to state that the Regulation which came
into force on 28 September 2003 took away from us the power to
effect the certification requirements.
Q125 Chairman: Wait a minute, let
me be clear. Say that againit took away from you?
Mr Bell: The authority, the legal
requirement to effect the certification requirements.
Q126 Chairman: There is a difference
between a legal requirement and an authority, is there not? They
may not ask you to follow a persistent programme of research,
but presumably, from your own point of view, you would at least
like to know what is happening in safety regulation when you know
that there is a problem with European institutions.
Mr Bell: Yes, but, if I may say,
the issue is if regulation research is taking place into an area
of responsibility of EASA, in our dialogue with our charge-payers
and our internal examination of process, we decided we would need
to refocus our research project on areas where the CAA had regulatory
responsibility and, with that transfer of regulatory responsibility
to EASA, there was a very uncomfortable decision, but one which
we took, that future regulation on the areas of aircraft certification
is EASA's responsibility.
Q127 Chairman: But it is not working,
Mr Bell: It has not started yet
is the fact and we are very disappointed about that point.
Q128 Chairman: Yes, we are all disappointed,
Mr Bell, but there is a difference between being disappointed
and being safe. I am frequently disappointed. Life disappoints
me every day, but it does not mean to say that I take decisions
based on that. I do my best to make sure that they based on fact.
Mr Bell: This is where the Chairman
and myself are in full agreement about the uncomfortable situation
we are in today and why we were able to say that safety is not
being compromised today, but there is an unfortunate interregnum
which has occurred in the European countries.
Chairman: I do not like interregnums,
Mr Bell. They make me very unhappy.
Q129 Mr Wilshire: Chairman, I heard
the CAA say they are not doing something because of Regulations.
For the record again, can we be clear, do those Regulations say
that you do not have to do it or you must not do it?
Sir Roy McNulty: To the best of
my recollection, and I will check, the Regulation we referred
to does not forbid us from doing research, but I think it undermines
the point of doing the research if it is research into a subject
over which we have no jurisdiction.
Q130 Mr Wilshire: So, in that case,
you have chosen not to do research into safety, knowing that the
people taking it over will not do it either? Is that correct?
Sir Roy McNulty: No, I think in
the expectation that, perhaps rather slower than we would wish,
they will get round to it.
Q131 Graham Stringer: I think what
might help the Committee is if you could tell us, knowing what
you know now about the performance, or lack of it, of EASA, what
you would have done in the light of that knowledge that you did
Sir Roy McNulty: What we would
Q132 Graham Stringer: Yes. Would
you have kept the research going on?
Sir Roy McNulty: I think we would
probably have been reducing the research anyway, and the CAA over
many years has been reducing research, because almost all technical
advances and regulatory advances in aviation have been done on
a co-operative basis and I do not think there is a very strong
argument for the UK having a complete and independent research
capability in things like this. If we may, we will provide a note
on the research programme and, when you see that, I think you
will see that these are very long-term issues that we are tending
to look at in our research programme. They are not near-term safety
issues. They are things that are being looked at with a view to
rules that might emanate five to 10 years hence.
Q133 Chairman: But there may be aviation
technologies that are emerging with new innovative approaches,
may there not?
Sir Roy McNulty: Some of them
are, some of them are to do with operational issues. We will provide
the Committee with a note.
Q134 Chairman: Yes, we will need
to have a note on that, Sir Roy.
Sir Roy McNulty: I think we would
have given the wrong impression if we were saying we had stopped
it altogether. We are continuing
Chairman: No, you have made it very clear
that you are running it down and we are also equally clear that
we do not think it is a brilliant idea, but we will read what
you have got to say.
Q135 Mr Scott: Can I just clarify
that EASA have not started doing thisis that correct?
Sir Roy McNulty: To the best of
my knowledge, they have not started any research yet.
Q136 Mr Scott: So you are running
it down and you have said that you envisage that EASA will not
be able to do this role adequately anyway?
Sir Roy McNulty: No, I have not
said that. I think, with proper planning, proper management and
proper resources, this is a job that EASA should be capable of
doing properly. As of today, they cannot, but bear in mind the
conversation that we had earlier about charges, our consultation
on charges and the industry's views of our charges. I think we
would have great difficulty if we proposed to UK industry today
that we keep on with a research programme into activities over
which we have no jurisdiction today and keep on working as though
nothing has happened. That is exactly what people keep accusing
us of doing and actually it is not what we do. We are trying to
handle quite a difficult transition in a sensible way, recognising
the charges that we levy on the industry.
Q137 Mr Scott: But these savings
which would be made would obviously be helpful.
Sir Roy McNulty: Yes, it is money
which the industry would have to pay for, but we will provide
a note on the nature of the research activities, the costs of
the research activities
Q138 Chairman: You are not altogether
convincing us, Sir Roy. I know that will come as a surprise!
Sir Roy McNulty: I rather sense
Q139 Mrs Ellman: What influence does
the CAA have on what EASA will do? At the beginning of your statement
earlier on, you said that you could have influence on regulatory
matters in Europe. Now, what kind of influence will there be on
EASA from the CAA in regard to these aspects?
Sir Roy McNulty: I want to be
sure that I have heard thatwhat influence will the CAA
have on EASA?