The accident at the Shoreham Air Show in 2015 was a terrible tragedy and our thoughts remain with those left behind. The CAA is committed to making sure that all UK civil air displays operate to the very highest safety standards.
The CAA acted immediately following the accident to launch a comprehensive review of the regulation and oversight of UK civil air shows. An independent, external panel of experts oversaw the review and we published our Final Report in April 2016 with a total of 29 action items we had identified. These were all designed to enhance the existing system and help make sure UK civil air shows are even safer. These action items included issuing new guidance on enhanced risk assessments for displays; strengthening provisions in areas such as training and checks for those overseeing displays; and the experience, skill and health of display pilots. Air show organisers and display pilots were required to implement many of these enhancements in time for the 2016 air display season, with the remainder all being progressed as a priority.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) undertook an investigation into what caused the Shoreham Air Show accident and published their final report in March 2017. In addition to the 21 Safety Recommendations published in earlier 'Special Bulletins', or interim reports, during its investigation, the AAIB published a further ten recommendations for the CAA in its final report. The CAA has accepted all of the AAIB's safety recommendations; work is complete on 18 and work continues as a priority on the remaining 13, with four scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.
For the CAA and the air display community, 2016 was a period of change. In order to ensure the 2016 civil air display season could proceed, many of the enhanced safety measures were introduced as soon as possible and new procedures were put in place in response to the AAIB's safety recommendations. These included fitness assessments for display pilots and the people who issue their authorisations, as well as flying display directors, reviewing risk assessments as part of the process for issuing permissions for air shows, and enhancing protections for spectators at displays.
We also commissioned Helios - a specialist, independent aviation consultancy - to carry out a post-implementation review on our behalf. Helios looked at how our enhanced measures had affected air displays during the 2016 season, surveying air display organisers and pilots, and attendees. They received mixed feedback: whilst Helios found that the CAA had delivered on our commitments; that attendees' experience at air shows was overwhelmingly positive; and that fewer people were congregating at unofficial secondary viewing sites outside of the perimeter of the air show, notable concerns were identified by some members of the display community.
These concerns, from display organisers and pilots, centred around the speed with which the CAA had introduced the enhanced measures in 2016, resulting in a lack of consultation with stakeholders, as well as the additional processes required of them in order to hold an air show. We have listened to this feedback and, where possible, while protecting the enhanced safety framework, are addressing their concerns. We are investing in additional resource within the relevant CAA departments and offering guidance to display organisers on the enhanced risk assessment process. CAP 403, which sets out the safety and administrative arrangements for civil air shows and events, has been reviewed and updated accordingly.
There is now greater familiarity with the enhanced safety framework, and pre-season seminars and training courses have already taken place for the air display community. Our collective focus is now on the 2017 air display season. We are fully committed to ensuring that all air shows take place safely for the six million people who attend them each year in the UK and for the communities in which they take place.
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