Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence

APPENDIX 2 Memorandum submitted by Mr John K Milner

  I shall be most grateful if you would be kind enough to bring the following matters specific to the Light Aviation aspects of the review to the attention of the Committee as they deliberate upon this topic.

  The advent of EASA and the single European sky will have a fundamental impact on the regulation of General Aviation in the UK. In recent years the Civil Aviation Authority has become increasingly costly and heavy handed in regulation of light aviation and this has done nothing to improve safety, indeed there is some evidence that the contrary may be true.

  It is now time for a root and branch review and may I commend the following proposals to the Committee?

  First EASA will make the bulk of regulation and the role of the CAA should primarily be to ensure that such regulation is proportionate, contributes directly to safety and supports the economic welfare of light aviation within the UK.

  Second the management of implementation and regulation and the quality control aspects are left to a considerable degree to States. The Committee may wish to see that much of this is delegated to Examiners and Instructors in respect of General Aviation pilot certification. They may also wish to see suitable and proportionate oversight of small engineering companies, who do not need the degree of formality and rigour in process that is required for servicing and maintenance of large complex aircraft. There are already signs that the uniformity so attractive to bureaucrats will strangle light aircraft engineering. The industry will welcome uniformity across States since this will foster competition and make simpler the repair of aircraft with technical problems away from base. However uniformity of engineering standards between a small single engine piston aircraft and airliners such as a Boeing 747 is not only impractical, but also economic lunacy and should be vigourously opposed as yet the CAA seem rather spineless in this respect.

  The CAA is at present charged with making a substantial return on its funding. This may be a misguided attempt to encourage costs savings. However, since the authority is a monopoly, the actual effect is to cause them to seek activity that they can charge for and to increase prices, rather than look for efficiencies and cost savings. A simple but telling example is the issue of a pilots licence here and in the USA. In the USA a pilot is issued with a licence for life. It is revalidated every two years by a flight with an instructor, a practice also used in the UK. However in the UK pilots are also required to pay every five years for a reissue of the licence, there seems little merit in this. There are many other examples of paperwork exercises that add little or no value, but provide a growing revenue stream for a bureaucracy. Furthermore the efficient application of IT is commonplace in the USA, but almost non-existent within the CAA. Such attempts as have been made have generally been trivial (eg aircraft registration database) or badly executed (eg on line recording of pilot medical examinations).

  The reputation of the CAA within the light aviation community is at an all time low. This review represents a one time chance to create a fundamental change in the CAA remit and culture to actively promote General Aviation and help it to prosper. GA has been shown to be an effective local economic growth generator both directly and indirectly through the specialist light industrial activity attracted by many small airfields.

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