New simple requirements from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for approving the initial flight testing of small experimental aircraft in the UK were launched today at a London conference on the subject.

The new requirements for experimental aircraft, known as E Conditions, will benefit small-scale aircraft designers and manufacturers by reducing the red tape and financial burdens associated with securing airworthiness and operational approval for new light aircraft designs, encouraging the growth of new design concepts.

The announcement was made today at the Royal Aeronautical Society's light aircraft design conference in London. The Society has worked closely with the CAA on the proposal.

The new requirements allow aircraft designers to try out a new concept aircraft (up to a maximum take-off weight of 2,000kg) in the air without going through the costly and time consuming procedures that currently exist to get a new design past the initial stage of prototype. E Conditions can also be used to test aircraft modifications. If, after trying out a promising idea, it is thought to be viable, then a full design approval programme can be planned and funded in the usual way.

Individuals and organisations conducting proof of concept flights will still be required to undertake a risk assessment to support the activity and in particular, ensure that the risks to third parties are addressed. For example, flights would not be allowed over congested areas, the pilot must be suitably qualified and no passengers or cargo can be carried.

Tony Rapson, Head of the CAA's General Aviation Unit said: “We've worked closely with the designers and manufacturers of light aircraft to develop these new requirements in the hope that they can be part of the work to reverse the decline in the number of new aircraft designed and developed in the UK. We will absolutely commit to make it as easy as possible for people to safely progress and test designs.”

Commenting on the announcement, John Edgley, Chair of the Royal Aeronautical Society General Aviation Group said: “We have a long-held view that the rules governing the testing of experimental aircraft should be made easier to trial new aircraft designs which would have otherwise remained on the shelf or created abroad. We are delighted the CAA have embraced the need for change and led the development of an initiative with the potential to deliver significant benefits for the aviation sector, including the renewal of a vibrant UK light aircraft industry.”

Details of the new process can be found at  www.caa.co.uk/ga and on the  Royal Aeronautical Society's website.

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For further media information contact the CAA Press Office on 00 44 (0)207 453 6030 or  press.office@caa.co.uk

Notes to Editors

The creation of a dedicated GA Unit within the CAA emerged from the Government's Red Tape Challenge in 2013, which explored ways to reduce the regulatory burden on the general aviation sector. The 25-strong Unit has been assembled from airworthiness, flight operations and licensing specialists from across the CAA. All have significant knowledge and experience of general aviation, with most being active private pilots. The Unit is based in the CAA's Aviation House facility in Gatwick. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. It ensures the aviation industry meets the highest safety standards; protects consumers by making sure they have choice and value and are treated fairly; drives improvements in airlines and airports' environmental performance and ensures industry manages security risks effectively.

In 2006 the Royal Aeronautical Society published a paper entitled  The Design, Development and Production of Light Aircraft in the UK which first made the case for regeneration of the UK light aircraft industry through regulatory change.