Memorandum submitted by the British Gliding
This memorandum focuses on sporting and recreational
aviation (S&RA) in the UK, and in particular gliding and soaring.
In this, the relevant roles of the CAA are in Safety Regulation
Group (SRG) and Directorate of Airspace Policy (DAP). The BGA
is not concerned here with the CAA's roles in Consumer Protection
or Economic Regulation, which relate primarily to Commercial Air
Transport (CAT). The BGA has comments though with regard to airspace
policy as between the interests of CAT and S&RA.
The memorandum concentrates mainly on addressing
the 5th issue posed by the Transport Committeethat of the
effect of growing international and EU cooperation on the work
of the CAA, as the BGA believes this is the most significant factor
facing both the CAA and the BGA, and will be the primary driver
on the future roles, effectiveness and efficiency of the CAA.
A glossary of abbreviations appears at the end
of this memorandum.
The BGA is the governing body of the S&RA
activity of gliding and gliders / sailplanes in the UK. Gliding
should not be confused with hang gliding or paragliding, which
is governed by the British Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association
(BHPA). Membership of the BGA is some 90 clubs encompassing approximately
9,000 individual members with some 2,600 gliders or sailplanes.
The BGA was formed in 1929 and since 1948 UK
gliding has not been regulated by the State except in respect
of issues where gliders and glider pilots interact with other
aviation activities. These issues cover the use of airspace, radio
frequencies, the rules of the air embodied in the Air Navigation
Order (ANO), and some related operational areas such as glider
trailers under the Road Traffic Act.
Until the advent of the European Aviation Safety
Agency (EASA) in 2003 the BGA has provided, successfully, the
complete framework for the effective self-governance of gliding,
Airworthiness of glidersvalidation
of type certificates and issuing BGA certificate of airworthiness
(C of A) for gliders.
Maintenance of glidersrenewal
of a C of A through its own volunteer 550-strong inspector network.
Registration of all gliders (not
CAA registration until recently under EASA).
A complete safety management system
Gliding Clubs' operational rules
and codes of practice.
Pilot and instructor training and
coaching, and pilot qualifications (there is no UK state glider
Advice to clubs for development,
protection and many other aspects.
Direction and organisation of competition
gliding under the international FAI sporting rules.
Accident investigation under delegation
from the Air Accident Investigation Branch of the DfT.
The BGA structure is an elected 12 member Executive
Committee, supporting sub committee structure covering all aspects
of the sport, and a small professional staff headed by a Chief
Executive. Fuller details are available on request and the most
recent accounts of BGA Ltd are filed at Companies House.
The BGA is a full member of the Royal Aero Club
of the United Kingdom (RAeC), a member of the GA Alliance (GAA),
and is represented at the CAA's General Aviation Consultative
Committee (GACC), NATMAC and the Airprox Board. The BGA also supports,
including financially, the General Aviation Safety Council (GASCo)
and the General Aviation Awareness Council (GAAC). The BGA is
aware of the content of submissions from the RAeC, GAA and GAAC
to the Transport Committee, and where possible has avoided duplication
of, or made cross-reference to, their comments.
The BGA is a member of the European Gliding
Union (EGU) and, through the RAeC, Europe Air Sports (EAS), both
of which represent the interests of glider pilots and more widely,
S&RA in the regulatory field in the EU.
THE BGA AND
The BGA has always had a professional and invariably
friendly relationship with individuals at the CAA (SRG and DAP
groups), which has maintained an unofficial watching brief on
the BGA and UK gliding in the areas that are not state regulated.
For the limited areas in which gliding is subject to state regulation,
such as airspace, the same comment applies. The BGA has found
the CAA generally constructive and responsive in consultations,
and willing to listen to reasoned argument. The CAA has supported
the continued self-regulation of gliding by the BGA over many
years. For this the BGA is grateful.
That relationship is changing with the advent
of EASA, and whilst the professional and friendly relationship
continues at a personal level, the BGA detects an approach by
the CAA corporately to become closely involved unnecessarily on
the pretext of implementing EU legislation in a way that was probably
not intended by EASA and the EU.
UK gliding, and much of the BGA's activities,
are delivered through volunteers, and participants are amateur,
paying for their gliding as a leisure activity out of taxed income.
An undue burden of regulatory attention and costs could lead to
less flying which in turn can translate to lower safety (keeping
in practice). This should be borne in mind when considering the
regulatory role of the CAA. Limited elements of CAA SRG activities
are beneficial to gliding, but the benefit has to be proportional
to the cost burden to the end user. The BGA recognises the important
role of the CAA DAP group and whilst not always agreeing with
its policies or decisions, recognises it has a difficult job to
do in balancing competing interests and demands for airspace.
Gliding is not without risks. Those who take
part are briefed constantly on the risks and the means of mitigating
them. The risks are similar to many other forms of sport and recreation
that provide an outlet for the UK population's spirit of freedom
and adventure. The BGA's SMS aims to ensure, as far as humanly
possible, that the risks to participants and particularly to third
parties, be they early stage pilots under training, trial lesson
pilots, or unconnected people on the ground, are as close to zero
as possible. The relative success of this strategy is evidenced
in the statistics of rates of gliding accidents over a long period
of time. Details of the gliding accident statistics since 1987
are available if required.
Modern high performance gliders and gliding
generally requires large amounts of available airspace within
which to operate. They can, and do, travel long distances cross-country
in suitable weather500 kms is by no means uncommonand
they can rise to heights of well over 25,000 feet in certain conditions
and parts of the UK, though the normal operating height is up
to about 7,000 feet above sea level. By their nature, gliders
cannot operate exactly like powered aircraft and hold a flight
level or climb (without the assistance of a thermal) if requested
to by Air Traffic Controllers. Hence their ability to operate
in certain classes of controlled airspace is limited to Visual
Flight Rules (VFR). Certain classes of controlled airspace require
Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) capability.
Access to the maximum possible amount of free"
airspace is of paramount importance to gliding. Therefore the
BGA has considerable interest in the policies and decisions of
the CAA's DAP, and of the future structure of airspace.
The proposed inquiry is particularly relevant
now that new EU aviation regulations are coming into effect, starting
from 28 September 2003. Whilst the BGA had no desire for UK gliding
to be regulated by law, as it had managed perfectly well without
state regulation for 57 years in most aspects of operations, given
that EU standardisation or harmonisation is a reality then the
BGA wishes to see the optimal outcome. During this transition
period there are several dangers to the BGA and UK gliding, which
it wishes to avoid. These are set out below, particularly in paragraph
1. The remit, structure and powers of the
As described in the objectives of the CAA in
the Civil Aviation Act 1982, the primary remit of the CAA is solely
in relation to CAT. No mention is made of General Aviation or
As commented by the GA Alliance, the BGA considers
that the CAA Board would benefit from at least one Non Executive
appointment from the GA and / or S&RA community.
The current structure of the CAA, in terms of
the four main groupings of activities, seems appropriate to meet
the objectives. However, matters relating to GA are spread between
different units within SRG and might better be handled in one
comprehensive unit (airspace apart). The CAA's DAP Group is appropriate
for dealing with airspace related issues and the arrangements
for consulting users is satisfactory.
The CAA has wide powers as both regulator and
enforcer. There may a need for an independent appeals mechanism,
particularly where consultation has not been satisfactory (eg
the recent JRT activity on CAA charges).
When comparing the CAA with its counterparts
in the rest of Europe and further afield, such as the USA, there
is a stark contrast. In most other countries the cost of aviation
safety regulation is paid for out of general taxation. In the
UK it is levied on users (not necessarily the beneficiaries, particularly
in relation to airspacesee 2. below). The analogy is that
road safety is paid for generally out of taxation, albeit some
indirect hypothecation can be assumed in relation to road fund
licences, fuel duties and speeding fines. Though as most people
drive, the first two of these are probably regarded as taxation.
Why therefore is aviation safety regulation different? The requirement
for the CAA to recover all its costs directly from users, plus
a return on capital, places the UK GA and S&RA pilot and owner
at a competitive disadvantage, especially when it is recognised
that this group also incur fuel duties for powered aircraft, and
VAT generally, when airlines and their passengers do not bear
such taxation under ICAO protocols.
2. The performance of the CAA in relation
to its statutory objectives and functions
The CAA has a tendency to over-regulate when
compared with some other industry sectors, mainly, we suspect,
because the public perception is that aviation safety is a zero
risk objective" when in reality there are always risks, particularly
in S&RA activities.
In relation to airspace, the BGA makes the point
that controlled airspace is created to provide an ATC managed
environment to protect the paying passengers on CAT. Generally,
GA and S&RA do not require control as most flights are under
VFR, and therefore the costs of managing controlled airspace should
be for the account of CAT on the principle of the beneficiary
pays" and not the user pays".
3. The effectiveness and efficiency of the
CAA's regulatory framework
The BGA has had insufficient time to fully revisit
the CAA's regulatory framework and therefore does not offer any
comments at this stage on the CAA's effectiveness and efficiency
in this respect. However, some of the comments under other headings
probably touch on this aspect.
4. The effectiveness and efficiency of the
CAA in the general discharge of its duties
The CAA is to be congratulated on many of its
safety initiatives, such as its publication GASIL", the regular
annual road show of safety evenings in the GA community, the annual
safety awards event, and various other initiatives too many to
Overall the CAA appears to be effective in the
discharge of its duties, but at a cost. Its efficiency as a regulator
is very difficult to measure but there is a strong feeling in
the GA and S&RA sectors that costs could be very much lower
if a different approach were taken. In particular there is a prima
facie case for the CAA taking a lighter touch in these sectors,
and transferring detailed activities to a lower cost private sector
with appropriate oversight.
There is no doubt that the CAA will have to
reduce its scope of operations with the introduction of EU regulations,
and the transition costs should not be borne by users.
5. The effect of growing international and
European Union cooperation on the work of the CAA
This aspect is the one that the BGA places highest
in its list of issues to address as regards the future role of
The EU established EASA in 2002 to draft new
EU law in the form of Regulations, for endorsement and adoption
by the European Commission, the Council and European Parliament
(EP). The overall purpose of this development is contained in
Regulations 1592/2002, 1704/2003, and 2042/2003, in the form of
Essential Requirements" (ERs). This legislation is essential
reading to understand where the CAA fits into the future structure
of safety regulation in the EU. In addition, EASA is tasked with
drafting EU Implementing Rules (IRs or soft law"), Acceptable
Means of Compliance (AMCs), Guidance Material (GM) and Certification
Specifications (CS) for aircraft design.
This development will have, and is already having,
a profound impact on the future of the CAA, as well as the BGA
and its members. For gliding it means that a previously largely
unregulated activity will be regulated. One has to ask the fundamental
question of why?" when the long history of UK gliding being
self-regulating" has been acceptable under arrangements since
1948. But the issue for the Transport Committee is about the future
of the CAA, how it will adjust and adapt to the new EU environment,
and how the CAA's future role, if any, in relation to UK gliding
will or should develop.
(2) SINGLE EUROPEAN
The European Commission also established the
Single European Sky (SES) project, part of whose agenda is the
re-structuring of airspace throughout Europe and which will impact
not only the CAA's DAP role but also potentially the rights of
access for S&RA aircraft, including gliders, to categories
of airspace currently available to this sector of aviation.
(3) IMPACT OF
EASA ON CAA
Through Part 21 of Regulations 1592/2002 and
1702/2003 EASA is taking over progressively many of the higher-level
activities of the CAA, starting in 2003 with original airworthiness
of aircraft in terms of granting type certificates on a pan-European
basis, thus achieving economies of scale for designers and manufacturers.
The CAA should, or will, have little or no remaining role in this
area in future, other than those activities contracted to it by
EASA for reasons of resourcing and local knowledge of manufacturers.
Continuing airworthiness (maintenance)
Part M of Regulation 2042/2003 establishes EASA's
competence for aircraft maintenance, although the IRs for Part
M as they affect light aircraft in the GA sector are currently
subject to consultation and not due for implementation until 2008.
The impact on the CAA is likely to be significant.
Pilot licensing and Operations
EASA submitted its Opinion to the Commission
on the ERs for pilot licensing and operations in December 2004.
The Commission's Opinion for the Council and EP is awaited. The
BGA and its associated bodies (RAeC, EGU, EAS etc) are content
with EASA's Opinion, but are watchful for any changes that might
emerge during the ensuing law-making process. Whatever the outcome,
it will affect the CAA's roles significantly.
EASA and the Commission intend to regulate aerodrome
standards in future. This will also impact the CAA's role.
(4) IMPACT OF
EASA ON UK GLIDING
UK gliding is now in transition from an unregulated
(by the State) environment, or self-regulated environment, to
an EU regulated one. This poses many challenges not only for the
BGA but also for the CAA, which will largely have a subordinate
role to EASA. The BGA's concern is that, particularly on the engineering
side (original airworthiness and continuing airworthiness or maintenance)
the CAA will be predisposed to adopting the long screwdriver"
approach, thereby adding unnecessary bureaucracy and cost to that
which EASA will generate. Detailed consultation with industry
(in this case GA and S&RA) and strategic direction to the
CAA from the DfT is necessary here to ensure that regulatory actions
are proportionate and efficient in the context of the intent of
Pilot Licensing and Operations
Although it is very early days, it is hoped
that the CAA will be more liberal on implementation of pilot licensing
and operational oversight. There is already a model for partially
devolved licensing in the form of the UK National Private Pilot
Licence (NPPL) for light powered aircraft, introduced by the CAA
in 2002. For this, a company established by three UK air sports
or GA organisations (AOPA, BGA, PFA), manages licence applications
for the CAA for single engine aeroplanes and self-launching motor
gliders, alongside the BMAA for the microlight aircraft pilot
licence applications, producing a more economic result for applicants.
It is interesting to note that, before 1939, the RAeC not only
handled applications for, but also issued pilot licences!
Example of unnecessary change
One example of an unnecessary change is worth
quoting in detail as an illustration. As a result of gliders becoming
subject to EU law on airworthiness (Part 21), the CAA has required
glider owners to register their gliders on the state aircraft
register with G-XXXX". Since 1929 the BGA has maintained
a register of all UK gliders, using a unique sequential numbering
system. It costs the owners nothing, as it is a service provided
by the BGA as part of its overall funding structure. Now the owners
have to pay an additional £50 (£60 from 1 January 2006)
to register their gliders with the CAA and obtain the allocation
of G-XXXX letters which have to be painted" on the glider
in three places at some cost. This amounts to a total cost to
the gliding community of approximately £150,000 just for
registration, with absolutely no safety case whatsoever. As gliders
are often owned by small syndicates of members, if the lead syndicate
member whose name in on the CAA register changes, there is a further
£50 (£60 from January 2006) payable to the CAA for the
change of registration. The BGA needs to continue its own register
for other purposes (anticipating the future under EASA) and cannot
reduce its indivisible costs that provide the BGA registration
There appears to have been no serious consideration
given by the CAA as to whether this was necessary, bearing in
mind the BGA's totally satisfactory system for over 75 years!
Why could the BGA not continue with its system under delegation
from the CAA? Further, the BGA wanted a registration system of
G-numeric (ie G-1234) so as to align the CAA registration with
the BGA's own unique, sequential numbering system. That in itself
would have made a glider pilot's radio call to an air traffic
controller instantly recognisable as a glider, thus facilitating
understanding to ATC that a glider cannot hold a level" or
climb" when instructed to. Apart from the convenience of
having the BGA numbering system aligned with the BGA's own register,
which it needs to maintain in the future.
The CAA's answer to the BGA position has been,
essentially, it's the law". The BGA's answer is let's have
some common sense and change the law (ANO)!" As the UK glider
fleet as at September 2003 (most gliders) operates under a temporary
exemption from EASA Part 21, this issue of registration could
still be addressed constructively.
The BGA fears this example is but one that will
be prevalent in the future.
In overseeing implementation of EU rules the
CAA should keep proportionality in mind. This applies particularly
to EU Regulation 1592, Part 21 which was designed under the JAA
for CAT. Whilst many of the principles in Part 21 are applicable
to a wide range of aircraft, the detail should be handled with
a light touch" and not be seen as a job creation opportunity
in a shrinking CAA.
Competent Authority status
We re-iterate strongly the comments under the
case for delegation" in the parallel RAeC submission.
Qualified Entities and Assessment Bodies
EASA has introduced the concept of qualified
entities and, if EASA's Opinion on Operations and Licensing is
translated into EU law, the concept of designating air sports
organisations as assessment bodies for the issue and management
of pilot licences will be capable of implementation. This will
depend however on the willingness of the CAA (and DfT) to see
The CAA has a job to do and in many areas does
it well, though not necessarily in the most efficient manner.
However, times are changing and it is a unique opportunity to
address some fundamental issues of how the GA and particularly
the S&RA sectors of UK aviation (including gliding) should
be regulated by the CAA, if at all, in the context of EASA and
The BGA trusts that the Transport Committee
will address these issues seriously. The BGA remains at its disposal
to provide evidence in committee in a constructive manner.
11 November 2005