The government and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have announced plans to strip away unnecessary bureaucracy for the UK general aviation sector.
Some of the proposed changes were suggested during the General Aviation Red Tape Challenge (RTC), which found that the current regulatory regime is often impractical and too prescriptive.
The general aviation (GA) sector includes flights other than commercial scheduled air services. Most of the world’s air traffic falls into this category, from gliders to corporate flights.
Minister without Portfolio Grant Shapps said:
The General Aviation Red Tape Challenge received a phenomenal amount of responses, receiving three times as many e-mail submissions as any other RTC theme to date. This shows the real need for change in a sector that is worth around £1.4 billion to the UK economy and supports up to 50,000 jobs. We have identified a number of areas where existing regulations are unduly onerous, or where the CAA could improve its approach. The measures we are announcing today (6 November 2013) will ensure that the regulatory framework is proportionate – deregulating completely wherever possible, and minimising regulation where it is still necessary. This will ensure that we have effective safety regulation while supporting the sector to grow. This is in line with both the government’s deregulation commitment and also its wider drive for growth in the economy.
Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill said:
General aviation is an extremely important sector of UK civil aviation and it is right that we do everything possible to enable it to thrive. That includes making sure that, where appropriate, we ease the burden on what are often smaller operators and businesses who find navigating a complex regulatory framework particularly challenging. I welcome the time the GA community, and the associations in particular, have taken to respond to this challenge. I look forward to working with the representative bodies including the Light Aircraft Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the British Business and General Aviation Association in taking this forward. We will also continue working with other EU member states and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to ensure that EASA’s stated aim of proportionate and risk-based regulation is embedded in its activity.
The CAA is setting up a new GA Unit dedicated to more proportionate, effective regulation that supports and encourages a dynamic GA sector for the UK. The unit will be in place by April 2014. The CAA has also launched a ‘right to reply’ consultation, today (6 November 2013), on its detailed responses to the GA red tape challenge which will run until 6th December. By April with the new GA Unit in place, the CAA will publish detailed delivery plans for its full programme of GA work.
Explaining the role of the new unit, CAA Chair Dame Deirdre Hutton said:
We are absolutely committed to improving the way we regulate GA. We have made a start, for instance deregulating in some areas and delegating responsibilities in others. But there is much more we can do. The new, dedicated GA Unit is a formal recognition that GA needs a different and less onerous regulatory regime to commercial air transport. It will ensure we understand better the impact of our regulation on the sector, that we are as transparent and efficient as possible in how we go about it, and that we identify opportunities to reduce burdens and costs wherever we can.
The measures announced today (6 November 2013) include:
- creating an independent Challenge Panel, including GA industry experts and professionals. This will report directly to ministers and will run until April 2014. It will provide a ‘critical friend’ function to the CAA. It will seek to identify opportunities to deregulate, promote growth of the sector and ensure focus on the development of an ambitious GA deregulatory programme
- seeking to identify projects which would support investment, jobs and the growth of the GA sector. Potential projects could include those which support vibrant GA training or maintenance sectors, business jets or the development of new technologies for general aviation operations. Government, CAA and the panel will work together to identify potential projects. We are also open to suggestions where projects might add the most value and will proactively consider funding options including the contestability fund and catapult funding
- a renewed commitment to work proactively with European bodies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to look for ways in which unnecessary regulatory burdens on the GA sector can be reduced. Recent successes include securing EU agreement that the applicability of commercial safety standards to general aviation should be included in the EU REFIT review programme, and securing EU agreement to allow the UK to continue issuing the Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) rating for pilots until April 2019, with a commitment from the government and CAA to get this further extended if required
- a commitment from CAA to delivering a programme of culture change, deregulation and self-regulation; moving towards a model of supporting compliance rather than policing regulations, enhanced transparency, better value for money, and allowing the GA sector itself to take on more responsibilities for ensuring safety. Some examples include:
- a commitment to have all airworthiness forms on-line by the end of 2013 and an aim to have 70% of licensing application transactions on-line by Christmas
- the consultation launched in September this year on the deregulation for airworthiness purposes of single-seat microlights
- the creation of a ‘commercial experimental’ aircraft category to facilitate proof-of-concept flight testing
- the development of policies for applying the principle of ‘informed consent’ to certain aerial activities
- full support for the government’s commitment to implement civil sanctions as part of a range of proportionate interventions designed to encourage compliance
- a series of CAA-led workshops with the sector which will identify further areas for either full deregulation or contestability including the delegation of responsibilities, for example to professional associations as appropriate
- the GA Unit will operate with financial transparency, from a cost base better matched to the nature of its oversight, and with a constant eye on driving down its costs (and hence fees and charges) and also the costs of compliance. It is likely that preliminary evidence of this financial transparency will be seen during the late 2014 review of fees and charges for 2015, with the subsequent years’ review being fully reflective of the GA Unit’s first full year of operation
- improving communication with the GA sector, for example by providing targeted, relevant information in more accessible ways;
- a new “gold plating” challenge initiative to help GA users challenge rules and procedures that they believe exceed EU requirements, and an initiative to bust myths about GA regulation, for example making clear that there is no regulatory requirement to log aircraft movements within the UK and that there is also nothing to prevent pilot/owner maintenance of defined tasks on their aircraft
Written ministerial statement ‘General Aviation Red Tape Challenge’ was released on 6 November 2013.