Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Mr Paul Handover


  There is much evidence to indicate that the CAA have not been even-handed in ensuring that all sectors of the UK aviation industry were strong, healthy and effective in a fiercely competitive market.

  However, the transfer of regulations to the European Aviation and Space Administration (EASA) has profound effects on the future of the UK CAA and, in a real sense, overrides historic criticisms. That the CAA has to change is without question.

  Thus the Committee has the opportunity to recommend that the enforced change of environment for the CAA, as a result of EASA and the Single European Sky (SES), creates a unique opportunity for a complete overhaul of the CAA. This to ensure those future airspace users, and the UK aviation industry, operate within a lightest touch" regulatory environment, proportionate to risk.

  This outcome would be of major benefit, both socially and economically, to UK aviation users and organisations and thus allow light aircraft to play a valuable part in a European transport system.


  The structure and powers of the CAA are historically based on the concept of the United Kingdom being an independent state operating, so far as aviation matters are concerned, under the Chicago Convention, 1944.

  This independence is rapidly being overtaken by a European legislative framework, incorporated in UK law, which transfers UK aviation regulation to the management of a unified European air transport system known as the Single European Sky (SES).

  Thus the remit and powers of the CAA have to change in the face of this legal reality.

  The role of the CAA is expected primarily to become one of a National Supervisory Authority (NSA) with appropriate powers and remit defined by European legislation. The CAA as the UK NSA will be part of a peer review" process, again embodied within the European framework legislation, to ensure that all European States are applying European aviation regulations in a common manner.

  However, it appears that the CAA, as the UK NSA, will not, in itself, be subject to oversight by an independent body. This is the situation that presently exists with the CAA where the only way of amending a regulation is to lobby for an amendment to the Air Navigation Order, practically not very realistic.

  Under a future SES environment while an airspace user can appeal to the CAA as the UK NSA, if that user believes that he or she is disadvantaged in comparison to an equivalent airspace user in another European state, there does not appear to be any provision for that user to use an appeals procedure to challenge why the CAA has implemented a regulation in a particular manner.

    —  The powers of the CAA should be open to scrutiny in a way that allows all categories of UK airspace users to inspect the way that regulations are drafted.

    —  There should be an appeals procedure to a body independent of the CAA for aviation users, individual and corporate, who believe that the power of the CAA has been exercised in a manner counter to their remit and objectives.


  The author asserts that the CAA has not previously regulated General Aviation (GA) airspace users in a manner proportionate to the risk of those users and that this over-regulation is causing significant economic restraint to an important sector of UK industry.

  The evidence for this is drawn from the following examples.

    (i)  Single engine aircraft, where that engine is a turbine, are capable of fast, effective and safe journeys across Europe. The CAA have hitherto been reluctant to authorise the use of these single turbine-engined aircraft for the carriage of paying passengers under an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight. There is no substantive argument on any grounds, safety or otherwise, for not permitting such use of a turbine single engine aircraft. Although the CAA are rumoured to be close to granting such authorisation, the delay in so doing, measured in years, has been a significant restraint on the growth of UK air taxi customers.

    (ii)  The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of the US recognise that there are many technological benefits of fitting devices to aircraft in the smaller, General Aviation (GA) sector. Many of these after-fit" devices improve the navigational safety for light aircraft. The CAA has adopted the view that any such device fitted to a US manufactured and FAA approved aircraft requires a complete modification Certification process if that same, unaltered, aircraft is to be operated on the UK register. This Certification process has no material safety benefit for UK airspace users and, by denying users access to these devices, probably has a detrimental effect on flight safety for light aircraft users.

    (iii)  The CAA refuses to recognise that a pilot holding an FAA Instrument Rating is able to convert that to a CAA (now JAA) Instrument Rating (IR) without embarking on a substantial amount of further study and flight testing. The reverse is not true. This ludicrous situation has been the driving force for growing numbers of aircraft owners transferring their UK based aircraft to the US N" register. Indeed, the CAA has lacked any commitment to promote the gaining of a UK Instrument Rating in ways similar to the gaining of a FAA IR in the US thus denying huge numbers of UK private pilots the safety benefits that come with such a rating.

  Of course, the transfer of these areas of regulation to EASA makes these examples just historic comment. However, it underlines the culture that presently exists in the CAA and the damaging effect it has been having on the UK GA sector.

    —  The CAA in its future role of a National Supervisory Authority (NSA) must be measured in terms of promoting the maximum beneficial economic effect for the UK aviation industry, especially the GA sector, commensurate with current and future safety and environmental objectives.


  The CAA has been very effective in achieving and maintaining some of the highest safety standards in the world for UK aviation.

  However, the previous section shows that the CAA have been slow and unresponsive, in terms of performance, to many matters important to UK aviation users and organisations.

  These same examples indicate a lack of effectiveness in the regulatory framework applied to UK aviation users.

  Under EASA and the SES, the CAA's role will be significantly smaller as many functions transfer to EASA. As an NSA, the CAA will still have regulatory powers, on behalf of EASA, for UK aviation users and organisations. These powers, however, will have to be applied in a manner that achieves and maintains a common balance across Europe. This is enshrined, for example, in the Common Requirements, now EC law, for the Certification of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs).

  Should the CAA, as an NSA, interpret EASA regulations in a manner that is more onerous than commonly interpreted across Europe then this will reduce the rights of UK aviation users and, in turn, the competitiveness of UK aviation organisations.

    —  The future effectiveness of the CAA's regulatory framework must be measured in a way that allows transparency of the CAA's effect on UK airspace users and a comparison with airspace users in other European countries.


  The CAA has been less effective in promoting a GA environment conducive to a healthy UK GA industry that would have been possible. Not only has this held back the ability of small private aircraft to provide an effective means of transport for users, the over-regulation of this sector has not produced any safety benefits.

  The CAA has not recognised that its duties with regard to UK airports are to ensure that all airspace users have an equal right of access to a licensed airport. This is evidenced by the pricing policies of many UK regional airports that have, in effect, denied the use of those airports to light aircraft, in contravention of the public use" requirement in the license conditions.

  The CAA has been slow in recognising the advantages of light aircraft using GPS approaches to airfields that do not have other facilities for allowing aircraft arrivals in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). Other European countries are ahead of the UK in this respect.

  Advances in the construction and reliability of light aircraft and in the provision of avionics especially in the area of navigation systems have created the potential for light aircraft to be a viable major means of transport across Europe, in the face of increasing delays and costs of other means of transport. That light aircraft are used significantly for business purposes means that an effective transport environment for GA has a disproportionally positive effect on UK industry.

    —  The future CAA must recognise the importance of the GA sector in a way that it has failed to do in the past.


  By definition, airspace users predominantly operate across European borders. Thus the effectiveness and efficiency of European air traffic management (ATM) can only be accomplished by a European wide regulatory and management approach. Already, under the auspices of EASA and the SES we are seeing significant advances in ATM efficiency. By example, the Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU) celebrates 10 years of operation this year and has been instrumental in improving ATM efficiency and reducing delays for airspace users.

    —  This European environment is crucial to the health of the entire European airspace industry. The UK aviation sector has the skills to be a leading player in the European market. The CAA has to change radically to embrace this European initiative and to ensure that UK companies take full advantage of the opportunities.

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