Select Committee on Transport Thirteenth Report

9  Conclusion

168. The UK aviation industry has changed significantly since the establishment of the CAA in 1972 and a comprehensive review of the organisation is overdue. Overall, the CAA appears to be performing well within the regulatory framework provided for it, but we believe that some structural changes to this framework might allow it better to meet the needs of the aviation community and the wider public. Although there is much to be admired in the performance of the CAA, it is clear that many of those affected by its activities are dissatisfied with certain aspects of its work. While some of these dissatisfactions might be well-founded, we believe that others are a result of little more than the CAA's failure adequately to communicate with them. It is important that the CAA makes more effort to listen to, and act upon, the concerns of those it regulates and those on whose behalf it regulates. It is equally important that it is open about its processes and operations, so that those involved in, and affected by, the aviation industry, and the public at large, can see and understand what it is doing.

169. We have been concerned by the evidence we have received of the chaos surrounding the establishment of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It is clear that this organisation is not yet ready to do its job and it is vital that the UK transfers no further responsibilities to it until it has shown itself capable of undertaking its existing responsibilities. The brief history of the founding, planning and implementation of EASA inspires a feeling of despondency about the ability of those minded to make transnational European agencies work either effectively or efficiently. The Commission must examine closely the lamentable history of this half-baked, half-cock project, and apply the lessons learnt to future endeavours. We also hope it will seek to provide evidence of its competence by righting the situation of EASA promptly.

170. It is clear that the UK aviation market will continue to change in the coming years: Europe will have an increasing influence on the UK market; capacity constraints will increase and will need balancing against growing and very real concerns about the environmental impact of aviation; and there will be a potential tightening of the skilled labour pool. It is vital that the CAA recognises such changes in the market and is responsive and flexible enough in its structure and its remit to meet the challenges of the next 20 years.

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