Major change for general aviation regulation as new unit opens for business

Date: 01 April 2014

The Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) new General Aviation Unit opens for business today. The Unit is the latest demonstration of the CAA’s determination to being a better regulator, reducing and improving our regulation of this key part of aviation in the UK.

The unit will be dedicated to effective regulation that supports and encourages a dynamic GA sector. It will make a key contribution to fulfilling the Government’s aspiration for the general aviation sector to enjoy a safety regulation system that imposes the minimum necessary burden and empowers individuals to make responsible decisions to secure acceptable safety outcomes, to make the UK the best country in the world for general aviation.

Andrew Haines Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “I have been the first to admit that the way the CAA has regulated the UK’s GA sector has sometimes been disproportionate, and is in need of reform. The launch of the unit is a genuine indication of our commitment to regulate in a sensible and proportionate way. Of course, where there are clear safety justifications, the CAA will regulate to protect UK citizens, however we also recognise that we need to do that in a way that equally encourages a vibrant GA sector for the UK.”

He added: “The new unit will improve efficiency and create greater transparency and accountability. The GA Unit has been set up in conjunction with government ministers Grant Shapps and Robert Goodwill in direct response to the coalition Government’s GA Red Tape Challenge which has made us take a long, hard look at how we regulate the GA sector. I am delighted that our work in this area is being strongly supported by such key government ministers and by Patrick Ky, the new Executive Director of EASA, all of whom are key partners in this important transformation.”

Commenting on recent achievements and future work, Tony Rapson, Head of the GA Unit, said: “We have been working with both the Light Aircraft Association and British Microlight Aircraft Association to delegate oversight and support of nationally regulated Permit to Fly aircraft. This will devolve our airworthiness tasks and introduce a more proportionate approach. I expect the transitional work to be completed by September this year. We also plan to reduce the burden on maintenance organisations under Part M by removing the requirement for an approval to work on individual aircraft types, saving £1,600 for each type. And we propose to allow many Permit to Fly aircraft to fly at night and in instrument conditions giving them the freedom they have wanted for so long.

“We also recognise that much of the regulatory burden imposed on the GA sector originates in Europe. That is why my team and I will actively engage with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to achieve better outcomes for UK GA. Specifically, we will work with EASA to deliver its general aviation road map which will reduce regulatory burdens on EASA aircraft.”

Work already completed to reduce the regulatory burden includes:
• A project to de-regulate single seat microlights
• Allowing hand held radios in permit to fly aircraft
• Changing the requirement to reduce the amount of classroom training required for student pilots
• Allowing gyroplanes to be used for self-hire
Other proposed changes are:
• Reducing the requirements for flight testing prototype or modified aircraft to encourage innovation
• Allowing balloon pilots over 65 to continue as the single pilot of commercial balloon flights
• Submitting to EASA a new alternate training syllabus for private pilots that is more in keeping with current needs
• Reducing the number of questions in initial pilot exams to the minimum required

More detail of the achievements so far and future work is available at

Later this year the CAA will also publish a review of the last 10 years worth of GA safety data. This will influence a wider public consultation on our overall approach to the sector. The results of this will help to develop the implementation of a proportionate and risk-based approach to our wider regulation of the GA community and act as the principle foundation for all future work and decisions.

Tony Rapson added: “I am very grateful for the support the GA community has given to me and my team in setting up the unit and helping us set our priorities. This has to be a partnership if we are to deliver real change.”

The GA Unit will also be holding a major briefing event at this year’s AeroExpo at Sywell Aerodrome on Sunday 1 June 2014 with Government ministerial presence also planned. The session is open to anyone attending Aero Expo event and will be an opportunity to ask questions and help set the agenda. Andrew Haines, Tony Rapson and members the unit will be on hand to discuss anything and everything in the main seminar room.

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. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.

For further press information, contact the CAA Press Office on: 0207 453 6030