Examination of Witnesses (Questions 403-419)
25 JANUARY 2006
Chairman: Good afternoon to you, gentlemen.
You are most warmly welcome. I am afraid we have one little bit
of housekeeping. Would members of the Committee having interests
please declare them?
Mr Martlew: I am a member of the Transport
and General Workers Union and the General Municipal Workers Union.
Clive Efford: I am a member of the Transport
and General Workers Union.
Graham Stringer: I am a member of Amicus.
Chairman: I am a member of ASLEF.
Mrs Ellman: I am a member of the Transport
and General Workers Union.
Mr Leech: None.
Q403 Chairman: Thank you very much
for that. Gentlemen, could we begin by identifying you for the
record, starting on my left?
Dr Braithwaite: I am Graham Braithwaite.
I am the Director of the Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation
Centre at Cranfield University.
Professor Thomas: I am Callum
Thomas. I am the Head of the Centre for Air Transport and the
Environment at the Manchester Metropolitan University.
Mr Mans: I am Keith Mans, Chief
Executive of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Mr Starkie: I am David Starkie,
Consultant and Visiting Professor at the Sauder Business School,
University of British Columbia.
Q404 Chairman: Thank you very much,
gentlemen. Does anybody have anything they want to say briefly
before we go to questions? If not, we have been told that it is
impossible for the CAA as a single organisation to reconcile all
the conflicting pressures upon it because of the different areas
of regulation. Is that fair? Who wants to have a go?
Dr Braithwaite: There is not a
simple answer to that question. It is something that the CAA appears
to have accomplished very well. That is not to suppose that that
could always be the case. There are certainly examples overseas,
and I can think of one from Australia, where the Civil Aviation
Authority found it very difficult to execute both its safety regulation
and its other duties and that led to it being split but I do not
necessarily see the same problems within the CAA as it stands.
Q405 Chairman: Does anybody have
any other comments on that? Do you have any other view of this,
Mr Mans: No, I do not. I think
if it is properly organised it is a perfectly sensible way to
go forward. I do think some external auditing is probably necessary
Chairman: We will come to that in a minute
if you do not mind.
Q406 Mr Leech: You said that they
separated it in Australia. Were there some benefits in doing that?
Did it improve the situation?
Dr Braithwaite: I do not think
the answer is clear-cut. There were some disbenefits from it as
well. It was not a simple issue. There were problems within the
CAA which later led to accidents within
Q407 Mr Leech: Could you possibly elaborate
on that? What were the benefits and what were the disbenefits?
Dr Braithwaite: One of the benefits
was that the Authority was very clear what its remit was, particularly
in terms of safety regulation. I think we achieve that in this
country by the Safety Regulation Group being a clear and distinct
part of the CAA here. I would say that was the clearest distinction,
that people knew exactly what their organisation was about.
Q408 Chairman: Can I ask all of you
what will the Civil Aviation Authority look like in 20 years'
Mr Mans: Very different.
Q409 Chairman: Mr Mans, yes, I think
we can guess that. In what way?
Mr Mans: The whole aerospace and
aviation communities are expanding in a number of different directions
and I think the Authority has to keep up with what is going on.
On the one hand, clearly more regulation is going to start off
from the other side of the Channel with EASA and I think the tasks
that the CAA will be doing in 20 years' time will be rather different.
As an example, I suspect that, compared with what has happened
in the past, the CAA will have to pay more attention to general
aviation in the future.
Q410 Chairman: Apart from general
aviation, Professor Thomas, if we were starting from somewhere
new would it look the same as it does now?
Professor Thomas: I think the
extent to which environmental issues are going to drive the industry
in 20 years' time means that this is an area which is going to
have far greater influence than it has had in the past. We are
going to need to look at trade-offs between different impacts.
We are going to have to optimise different environmental impacts
and trade-offs between economic benefit and environmental cost,
so there are a number of different issues that will contribute
to deciding what is required for the sustainable development of
Q411 Chairman: Mr Mans, you said
that the CAA should delegate and subcontract more of its functions
to competent third parties on a competitive basis. Which bits?
Mr Mans: I would probably say
that some of the pieces associated with general aviation were
a good example, but I think some of the activities that are at
present carried out by, for instance, licensing of lighter aircraft
could be delegated to the governing bodies of those particular
types of operation.
Q412 Chairman: Do you think that
would be cheaper for those involved in general aviation?
Mr Mans: I think they would probably
get better value.
Q413 Chairman: So you are not suggesting
necessarily that they will pay lower costs? What you are saying
is that they will get a much better deal?
Mr Mans: I think that is probably
true, Mrs Dunwoody. I would say it is better value. Better value
is not always cheaper but I suspect we could get rid of inefficiencies.
May I also agree with Callum Thomas about the environment. I think
the CAA will have to take an increasing lead in promoting sustainability
within the aviation sector.
Q414 Chairman: Dr Braithwaite, what
are the implications of delegating some of the CAA's safety roles
and its inspection work?
Dr Braithwaite: The first thing
is to avoid any sort of capture by the industry. If things are
delegated there still needs to be a responsible adult, if you
will, and the CAA has played that role very well. The word Authority"
in CAA" carries with it great weight and there needs to be
some sort of responsible agency in authority. I would say that
is one issue.
Q415 Graham Stringer: Can I follow
up on Mr Mans' answer? I think it would be helpful if we got one
definition sorted out because it is a word bandied about regularly
in aviation which I do not understand. I would be interested in
your definition of sustainability" so that we are all clear
what we are talking about. Secondly, you say that the CAA will
have to be more involved on environmental issues. Why? Are there
not an almost infinite number of regulatory bodies, from English
Nature and English Heritage to the European Union and local authorities,
all of which monitor the standards of air quality, biodiversity,
a whole range of environmental issues? Why should the CAA get
Mr Mans: Let me try to answer
the first of your questions, Mr Stringer. I might ask for a bit
of assistance from Professor Thomas on my right. As I understand
it, you are trying to run a sector in a way that is socially,
economically and environmentally successful. In other words, you
cannot just run it from an economic point of view or indeed a
social point of view. You have to take into account the environmental
aspects of what you are doing in order to have a sustainable industry
in the long term. Why should the CAA be involved in that? I think
it is because it is becoming increasingly central to how the aviation
community progresses. I think regulation plays an important role
in promoting sustainability and, if you like, at least beginning
to change the business model so that when economic decisions are
taken they take into account the issue of the environment.
Professor Thomas: There are a
number of different environmental issues that are associated with
the air transport industry, some of which are specific to the
industry, such as aircraft noise, and others, such as local air
quality, where the air quality around an airport can be determined
by the aviation industry itself and other industries, such as
a motorway passing by or other industries in local proximity.
In that situation, where you are dealing with an issue such as
aircraft noise which is specific to the air transport industry,
one can envisage how the CAA has a specific role. Where you are
dealing with other modes of transport, and indeed other industries,
there are other regulatory bodies that have an interest and one
assumes that the CAA will need to operate with those in order
to secure the optimum
Chairman: I am not sure that that answers
Q416 Graham Stringer: It is a very
interesting answer because it really means, I think, that you
are saying that the CAA should deal just with aviation matters
and that all the other issues that are common to other regulatory
bodies should be left to those other regulatory bodies, which
seems to contradict Mr Mans.
Professor Thomas: I would have
to say immediately that although it may appear that I am saying
that I am not an expert. I am an expert on the environmental impact
and perhaps not on the regulatory role of the CAA, so I would
defer in some elements to Keith Mans in terms of the response
that he has given. However, there is obviously an interface between
the air transport industry and other industries on the other issues
and in respect also to climate change, which is the third major
environmental impact of the air transport industry.
Mr Starkie: I think we need to
bear in mind that in terms of environmental standards, noise and
emissions from aircraft, those are set at an international level
through ICAO and they often lead to very tortuous arguments and
negotiations between the Member States and particularly between
the United States and the European Union on this. I have a difference
from the other panel members. I do not see the CAA getting heavily
involved in environmental matters in future basically because
of that international perspective and also because I think most
environmental issues arise at a local level and are probably better
tackled at local level and not by a national body.
Q417 Mrs Ellman: Is the CAA sufficiently
Mr Mans: I think it can be improved.
In certain aspects of what they do I think an external audit function
by an organisation like the NAO is a good way forward.
Dr Braithwaite: I tend to agree
on that. Some sort of external scrutiny would be good but the
accountability should not be spread so much that the industry
it is supposed to be regulating is pulling the strings of the
CAA. I know there would be big concerns if the industry itself
was pushing the CAA to be overly accountable to them as opposed
to an independent agency.
Q418 Mrs Ellman: Do you think that
is what is happening at the moment? Would you say that it is overly
accountably to the industry?
Dr Braithwaite: I think there
are elements of the industry which can shout rather more loudly
than other elements of the industry.
Q419 Mrs Ellman: What about the Government's
requirement for a 6% return on capital? Do you think that is reasonable?
Mr Mans: Personally I think that
is too high. I think it should be self-funding and, as you know,
the accounting rules are fairly complicated. One of the reasons
for the 6% return is the building of Gatwick, as I understand
it, being capitalised. I think a six or 6and a half % return is
probably too high and I would say that whilst the Authority needs
to be self-funding a return of that sort is probably putting unnecessary
burdens on the industry itself.
1 The answer to this question was interrupted and
therefore is incomplete and possibly misleading. I have attached
an explanatory memorandum (See Ev 166) Back