Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Mr Peter Harvey

  I am writing to you in support of the review into the CAA, and in particular the impact that the CAA has on General Aviation.

  I am an aircraft owner and member of AOPA and hence have an interest in the outcome of the review.

  First I believe that safety is best in the main left to the not for profit sector and that there is definitely a role for a non profit making body to oversee safety in this sector. Generally it should also be acknowledged that the UK has an excellent safety record and that it would not be in the interests of individual pilots, their passengers or the general public to undermine that past record. Having said that, no activity can be made 100% safe, and its foolish to try. There has to be a sensible balance between the cost of regulation and the risks involved, that balance seems to have got out of kilter and now needs to be addressed.

  In addition to being a pilot I am also a keen sailor, and one cannot but compare and contrast the safety and regulatory environment between the two activities. As AOPA has frequently stated a pilot whose training and experience is kept constantly up to date and who knows the limitations of his/her abilities is much less likely to get into trouble. Modern aircraft are substantially safer than those built at the time the current regime came into being. In the marine world the RYA has concentrated its efforts and resources on training, with the result that their training regime has world-wide recognition as the standard to be followed. There are a number of similar aviation bodies, such as the PFA that could no doubt be asked to take on a similar role, thereby alleviating the public purse of this element of expenditure and quite probably doing it much more cost effectively into the bargain.

  I am not advocating that anybody should be entitled to fly a light aircraft with minimal training but the current system of checks and charges is out of all proportion to the threat" that is being addressed; indeed the latest plans from the CAA seem designed to drive much of the UK's GA activity out of business. Until the very welcome review by the Select Committee, there seems to have been no consideration by the CAA of cutting its cloth to fit its means, instead there seem to be a working assumption that demand will remain undiminished whatever the scale of charges.

  If we were setting a department up from scratch it seems unlikely to me that it would be deemed cost effective to take in-house" the range of activities that the CAA currently perform as more cost effective solutions could be found elsewhere. In the commercial world companies are constantly needing to find best in class solutions to the issues they face. The review of the CAA should similarly seek to find best in class solutions to the range of activities that the CAA currently performs, perhaps by using existing Government agencies, such as DVLA, to handle large elements of the process, or outsourcing non safety critical activities to the private sector as has happened to so much activity elsewhere in the public sector.

  So, in summary;

  Please don't compromise on safety, but most of my interactions with the CAA have nothing to do with safety and could be done more cheaply by other agencies.

  Please recognise that charges are reaching a crisis point in GA and the CAA is in danger of killing the industry it is charged with regulating.

  Please look at other models to ensure that the UK has an ongoing thriving GA sector, employing large numbers of people in high value added sector of the economy.

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