Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420-439)|
25 JANUARY 2006
Q420 Mrs Ellman: Dr Braithwaite,
you seemed to be implying that you thought the CAA was more accountable
to some partners than to others. Do you have any examples of that?
Dr Braithwaite: Certainly in terms
of the funding that is going to the CAA there are parts of the
industry paying a lot more in and therefore expecting a lot more
out. That is not necessarily the same as the levels of risk. For
example, the general aviation industry, whilst it may be paying
what it perceives to be high fees individually, is paying rather
less overall than perhaps some of the major carriers might be
paying and therefore there are clearly different views as to where
the money should be spent by the CAA on development.
Q421 Mrs Ellman: Do you think that
general aviation gets a rough deal from the CAA? Does anybody
have any views on that?
Mr Mans: I would probably say,
yes, on balance, and our evidence is along those lines. I think
it is true to say that general aviation in the past has been very
much the Cinderella" of the aerospace and aviation community.
I think in the future it is going to play a rather more central
role, particularly in the training of both engineer technicians
and aircrew, and therefore it has a bigger role to play and I
think it needs to be treated a little more fairly by the CAA in
the future. I am not saying that what they have done in the past
is necessarily wrong; I am just saying the nature of the beast
is changing, and I think the deal that general aviation gets is
not a brilliant one. Dr Braithwaite pointed out some of the fairly
loud voices in the aviation community and I do not think many
of those are in general aviation. I think there is a case to be
made because a lot of the people who end up in the airlines and
who end up generally in commercial aviation will increasingly
start life in general aviation, so from that point of view I think
it needs to be nurtured in this country more than it has been
in the past by the CAA. We want to move towards an America or
possibly an Australian model where General Aviation is encouraged
rather than stepped on too heavily in terms of regulation.
Q422 Mrs Ellman: What are the main
challenges being faced by the CAA Safety Regulation Group? Dr
Braithwaite, do you have any thoughts on that?
Dr Braithwaite: I would say the
overwhelming challenge at the moment is the uncertainty with the
rise of EASA and knowing what its function will be as the European
Aviation Safety Agency takes over more of a role, so I would say
during that time of uncertainty it is not only in terms of their
human resources and whether people will want to stay working for
an organisation that is starting to evaporate, but also making
sure that EASA is up and running and capable to take over the
role that the Safety Regulation Group appears to have done very
Q423 Mrs Ellman: How do you perceive
the state of the European Aviation Safety Agency at the moment?
Do you think it is effective?
Dr Braithwaite: I think it is
enthusiastic and optimistic but not necessarily fully capable
and able to do all of the roles that are expected of it. They
have got a big task to take over and whether they are spinning
up as fast as some of the regulatory agencies are spinning down
is something that needs to be watched.
Q424 Mrs Ellman: You have said that
there is a need for active regulation". Could you tell us
what you mean by that?
Dr Braithwaite: By active regulation
I mean that a regulator needs to be able to be responsive to respond
to events and concerns that arise, that it also needs to have
the capacity to be proactive to look at what the future challenges
are going to be and try and understand those before they start
to cause incidents and accidents. That is really what I mean by
Q425 Mrs Ellman: Is that the same
as light touch" regulation?
Dr Braithwaite: In my opinion,
no, it is not. The inference of light touch regulation suggests
that self-regulation rises to the fore and I would have some concerns
about that in safety regulation.
Q426 Mrs Ellman: Are there any general
concerns that the move to light touch regulation will have an
impact on safety standards?
Mr Mans: It should not is the
answer to that, in my view. Indeed, you could argue that light
touch could actually promote safety because it encourages more
innovative designs, particularly of light aircraft, and as a result
hopefully safer designs as well. I think the key about light touch
regulation is that it is proportionate to the risk and it is quality
assurance, not quality control. Those are the two phrases that
I would use to describe good light touch regulation.
Q427 Mr Leech: Are you aware that
BALPA take a very different view to that? We had Mervyn Grimshaw
here in front of us and he took totally the opposite view. Have
you got any comments on BALPA's comments to our Committee?
Mr Mans: Yes, I think it is horses
for courses. If we are talking about the regulation
Q428 Chairman: Pilots for planes
I think in this sense, Mr Mans!
Mr Mans: Yes, you are absolutely
right! If we are talking about the regulation of commercial operations/airline
operations, I think I probably have more agreement with Mervyn
over that, but when we are talking about the regulation of general
aviation I think there is a role to play in delegation and a lighter
touch. As I say, I stick to the phrases I used about proportionate
to the risk and it is quality assurance rather than quality control.
This is not an alien concept to many other aspects. The engineering
industry in Britain operates on that principle.
Q429 Chairman: Can we just ask Dr
Braithwaite about this because you did say that the CAA were not
going to be able to keep up with the regulatory approval of safety-critical
equipment because it is running down its operations as it runs
into EASA. How many examples of that have you got?
Dr Braithwaite: I can think of
several where operators have wanted to import aircraft into this
country and it has arrived with equipment fitted which the CAA
is not yet able to certify as being safe to fly, an example being
an enhanced ground proximity warning system on a particular aircraft
which was not yet approved and was effectively taken out of action
because of that. That is not an implied criticism of the CAA but
people are wanting to improve their own safety for all sorts of
reasons and we need a regulator that can keep up.
Q430 Chairman: So would that be helped
by what Mr Mans is suggesting?
Dr Braithwaite: It may in part.
I get the impression that Mr Mans' interpretation of light touch
regulation is more around the risk-based approach to regulation,
which does make sense, but I think we also need to recognise that
if we ease off on our style of regulation the effect it is likely
to have on any future incident or accident may take a number of
years to actually eventuate.
Q431 Mr Leech: I was going to follow
on from asking Mr Mans to ask whether you accept that there may
be an argument for more active regulation, in the words of Dr
Braithwaite, in the commercial sector as opposed to the general
Mr Mans: Absolutely right. I think
the key to good regulation is that the people doing it have got
the experience and the knowledge to carry it out, and if a lot
of that experience and knowledge resides in, say, the individual
governing bodies of a particular part of aviation, like the Popular
Flying Association or the British Gliding Association, then there
is a good case for saying that they should be the main body that
regulates that sector. Where I think you get bad regulation is
where you have the people actually doing the regulating not being
as competent as they might be and therefore they are actually
trying to regulate people who probably know a bit more about the
subject than they do. I think that is one of the issues about
EASA. I think we do have a situation now, or will do very soon,
where the people doing the regulating in Cologne will not necessarily
have the sufficient knowledge and experience to maintain the present
safety standards that we have at the moment, particularly when
a lot of the people doing those tasks in the CAA in the past will
not be there very much longer in the future.
Q432 Mr Leech: So how would you deal
with that because at the moment EASA are paying the CAA to do
a lot of the work? You do not expect that to continue then?
Mr Mans: No what I think, Mr Leech,
is that EASA has to take a step back and start looking at the
activities for which it is already responsible and do them better
before it takes on new responsibilities and that we have, if you
like, a longer handover period so that the experience and knowledge
of people at the CAA is not lost before the task is fully up and
running with EASA.
Chairman: Mr Efford?
Q433 Clive Efford: Dr Braithwaite,
you have touched on EASA but we have heard from the CAA that EASA
is not yet fit for purpose. Do you agree with that?
Dr Braithwaite: I think that is
quite a strong statement but certainly it is an agency which does
not necessarily have the same levels of expertise and experience
that the authorities it is replacing have, so whilst certainly
the intent and the idea of EASA is a very good one, whether it
has managed to reach its recruitment targets and whether it has
managed to establish a credible level of experience and training,
I would have my doubts.
Chairman: So that is yes, only longer!
Clive Efford: You took the words right
out of my mouth!
Q434 Clive Efford: So what needs
to be done to overcome these problems, in your view?
Dr Braithwaite: I think we need
to look at what we have currently in the UK, what the CAA has
done for us and the investment that has been established in the
knowledge and skills and so on which Mr Mans was just talking
about and make sure we do not lose that. One of the things we
can do is to try and remove some of the doubts within CAA employees
and potential CAA employees that there will be a job and that
there will be an Authority in the future and that it is not just
going to keep disappearing across to Cologne which is not yet
able to do the jobs that it is taking over.
Q435 Clive Efford: Do I take it from
your answer that what you are saying is the CAA should continue
to function at its current level and not scale down any of its
operations in anticipation of EASA until such time as EASA has
proved that it can perform?
Dr Braithwaite: Not scale down
in anticipation but scale down only when the capability is there.
Q436 Clive Efford: Do you believe
that the creation of EASA and its proposed remit is a good idea
Dr Braithwaite: In principle it
is a good idea. If it leads to harmonisation at the higher levels
across Europe then that is a good thing. If it leads to harmonisation
at the average across Europe then that will be a bad thing for
Q437 Clive Efford: Could you paint
a picture for us and give us an example of where EASA practically
will fill a void that is in the regulation of the industry?
Dr Braithwaite: I think in terms
of communication there is the example of findings from an accident
investigation body such as the AIB in the UK which fed into a
European agency could then benefit the whole of Europe rather
more rapidly than it could by going through the CAA and then being
passed on to other agencies, so there are some benefits there
in spreading the good lessons and learning from issues.
Q438 Clive Efford: Right. EASA has
been very complimentary about the CAA in evidence to us. Does
this evident respect feed through into the regulatory policies
developed by EASA?
Dr Braithwaite: I am not sure
I have an answer for that.
Q439 Clive Efford: Do you think the
CAA could do more to influence EASA's policies?
Dr Braithwaite: I think the CAA
is trying very hard. It is a bit of an uphill battle, I think.