Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200-219)|
11 JANUARY 2006
Q200 Chairman: Captain Granshaw wants
to add something.
Captain Granshaw: As a receiver
of the serviceand I have received both because one occasionally
has to fly into military-controlled airports like Gibraltar and
also the civil-controlled airports around the UK and worldwidethere
is a very great difference between the demands and requirements
placed upon a military air traffic controller and a civil air
traffic controller and we in the UK are a very small island with
a tremendous amount of congested airspace. It is great that they
work together but I went to Swanwick Centre late last year for
a tour round and it is not quite as together as you would imagine.
It is not side-by-side together.
Q201 Chairman: They do in some areas
work on the same consoles, do they not?
Captain Granshaw: In some areas,
yes, but I would advocate that you draw from a broad spectrum,
and the same applies to flight operations inspectors from aircrew,
as there is a difference. There is a difference between somebody
who can ride on a roller-skate and somebody who drives an HGV,
although they may both have wheels on, and the same applies with
Q202 Chairman: That is an interesting
Mr Eagles: The engineering recruitment
for the CAA is from engineers who have been involved with airlines
mainly, and of course we have got the two fields, the airlines
and general aviation, general aviation being all aviation other
than commercial transport, and in consequence most of the CAA
surveyors come from airlines and know very little about general
aviation, light aeroplanes, small aeroplanes, so we have a problem
and always have had that problem.
Q203 Chairman: Did you hear Sir Roy,
he rather indicated that although that might necessarily be true
this was partly because of the difference in the volume of work.
In other words, general aviation in this country would not constitute
the bulk of the work done by those who were having to regulate
its functions. Would you accept that or do you think that that
is an overplay?
Mr Eagles: There are far more
general aviation aeroplanes that are regulated than there are
airliners. If you add to this the CAA also regulate gliders and
home builds through the various organisations, general aviation
has a lot of aeroplanes.
Q204 Clive Efford: Could the CAA's
recruitment difficulties be eased by an increasing delegation
of work to suitably qualified and experienced organisations or
Mr Eagles: Yes, it could indeed,
as they delegate the regulation of gliders to the British Gliding
Association and the home builds to the Popular Flying Association.
Q205 Chairman: Do you mind if we
move on. Could I ask you very quickly about EASA, do you mind
if we move on. Is it fit for purpose?
Mr Luxton: I would say not. There
is one issue that I think is of particular concern at the moment
and that is the effect of no aviation research being done by the
Q206 Chairman: You simply mentioned
that in your evidence but you notice the suggestion was that,
yes, this was true because they would not have any legal status
in the matter after the transfer of responsibilities to EASA.
Mr Luxton: I note that the CAA
have undertaken now to give you a list of what research they are
still undertaking but what I am arguing is that there are serious
gaps developing now in the research. I will give one specific
example. We did refer in our submission to research into offshore
helicopter operations. That may not be a big priority for EASA
because it is primarily something that occurs in the UK with our
North Sea interests, but there is a considerable amount of research
that the CAA had been doing in trying to get better protection
for helicopter crews when their helicopters upturn in the strong
winds and volatile conditions of the North Sea. A research programme
that has recently been stopped was research that was developing
techniques for the helicopter to flip sideways after ditching
into the sea to allow people to escape rather than to flip upside
down, as it does at the present time. It concerns me that what
to me seems a very important area of research is now lost, fallen
between the two stools of CAA and EASA.
Q207 Chairman: Captain Granshaw,
you said specifically you thought the CAA had got a blind sport
on the health and safety of aircraft crews?
Captain Granshaw: Yes.
Q208 Chairman: What scientific evidence
is there that would support that?
Captain Granshaw: As I say, we
do have some evidence which we are currently sharing.
Q209 Chairman: You were not aware
that the CAA were undertaking this inquiry or at least a preliminary
Captain Granshaw: Absolutely not,
no. In fact, we believed that when we appealed to them to join
in with the $2 million FAA research programme they actually said
no to us.
Q210 Chairman: How long ago was that?
Captain Granshaw: In the last
Q211 Chairman: In the last three months?
Captain Granshaw: Yes.
Q212 Chairman: So it has been quite
a rapid decision?
Captain Granshaw: It is a very
Q213 Chairman: Can you explain to
us when you are talking about the relationship between EASA and
CAA as being almost a master servant situation" what you
had in mind, Mr Eagles?
Mr Eagles: Yes, the ultimate responsibility
originally was the Civil Aviation Authority. EASA was brought
about rather hurriedly and rashly. It now overrules the CAA and
in fact EASA regulations overrule the Air Navigation Order which
is a British statutory instrument, so already we have the situation
where the CAA cannot move without the go-ahead of EASA, so EASA
is the master and the CAA is the servant.
Q214 Chairman: Prospect, have you
got any evidence about the numbers of experienced people who are
leaving because of the uncertainty because of this interregnum
that we have been talking about?
Mr Luxton: No specific figures.
It is anecdotal from people who talk to me and convey feelings
Q215 Chairman: So is the morale level
Mr Luxton: The morale level is
very low at the moment with all the uncertainty created with the
transition to EASA. I think a lot of this is about transition.
It seems to me that there has not been sufficient attention given
to giving EASA its role and having it up and running and fit ready
to take over its new roles. I think those are issues of leadership
and direction and having the necessary resources in place. To
put it into context, EASA has a staff of around 200; the Safety
Regulation Group of the CAA has a staff of around 700. So there
is a huge disparity and when the CAA are examining 10,000 separate
safety-related incidents each year through their Safety Data Unit
and analysing that data, that gives an indication of the size
of the task to keep monitoring safety.
Q216 Chairman: Have you any clear
exposition of what the changes in staff numbers or the transfer
of responsibilities or the access to European-wide facilities
would be which would affect materially your staff?
Mr Luxton: I have not no clear
visibility of that but I do know that there is a lot of uncertainty
now as to how it is all going to work in the future. As I say,
I think these are very serious problems of transition. There is
clearly a case for EASA in terms of having better co-ordination
of safety across Europe, so the concept is not flawed; it is the
way in which this organisation has been set up and, as I say,
the leadership and other issues that have caused the current problem.
Q217 Chairman: From all of your points
of view, are the interests of consumers and airlines the same
when it comes to regulation of airport charges?
Mr Luxton: If I may, on safety,
the interests of all are the same and it is a question of interpretation
in terms of value for money and risk assessment and the investment
required to ensure safety. We have made an argument that, if anything,
consumers should be paying more in terms of departure tax as a
way of funding the CAA to ensure that it has the necessary funding
it requires for the work it needs to undertake on behalf of the
Q218 Chairman: Captain Granshaw,
are you aware of the height and location of flight paths being
changed on a piecemeal basis?
Captain Granshaw: Not on a piecemeal
basis but certainly not with the co-ordination that we think would
Q219 Chairman: Is sufficient notice
taken of the environmental impacts of aviation, particularly flight
Captain Granshaw: Environment
is a very topical subject and I think aviation can be proud of
its record. The issue is one of safety. If you invent a new environmental
standard you have to allow us time to develop an engineering practice
that will deliver it safely and introduce it. If I look back over
my nearly 30 years in the industry and I look at the noise footprint,
constituents around Heathrow do not have to wear earplugs for
Tridents and 111s any more and fuel efficiency improvements are
enormous. I am told anecdotally