CAA Publishes review of NATS regulation

Date: 18 January 2013

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today published a review of its regulation of the en route part of NATS’ air traffic control business, NERL.

The continued provision of a safe, efficient and sustainable en route air navigation service is essential to further the interests of airspace users. The review examines what the CAA needs to achieve from its regulation of NERL in light of likely future changes in the market context such as demands from users for lower prices, future traffic projections and the increasing diversification of NATS’ activities.

The publication follows a formal three-month consultation period, where the CAA took views from stakeholders, including NATS themselves, and held a series of meetings to discuss the review.
The CAA has no concerns about NERL’s safety performance and competence – a record that is among the best in the world. But long-term forecasts for traffic growth and congestion will challenge traditional approaches to safety management. Hence it is important that NERL continues to maintain its strong approach to safety management.

The review sets out the six Strategic Outcomes that the CAA aims to secure through regulating NERL in the period to 2020. Those are that:

• NERL continues to maintain a high level of safety.
• NERL makes a sufficient contribution to meeting the EU-wide efficiency targets under the Single European Skies scheme (SES).
• NERL maintains sufficient financial and non-financial resources and avoids exposing en route airspace users to unacceptable risks arising from NATS’ activities outside the regulated business.
• NATS plays its full part in developing the strategic capabilities necessary to deliver their contribution to the CAA’s Future Airspace Strategy.
• There is clarity on NERL’s regulatory obligations and relationships with the CAA.
• In regulating NERL, the CAA can be neutral with respect to its ownership, as it has sufficient regulatory levers to achieve its objectives.

The review sets out that cost efficiency from NERL is vital during the period from 2015-2019 and should not be at the expense it continuing to provide the level of service quality airline customers expect in terms of flights delays and the environmental impact of flight routings. Cost efficiency will be a key focus for the next price control round, on which CAA has started separate consultation.

The review document can be found on the CAA website here:

For further media information please contact the CAA Press Office on: 0207 453 6030 press.office@caa.co.uk .

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Notes to Editors

1. The CAA sets price controls for the En Route part of NATS’ air traffic control business (NERL) to both maintain a high standard of safety and further the interests of users: taking into account the range, availability, continuity, cost and quality of air traffic services. The current price control runs between 2011 and 2014.
2. The terms of NERL’s licence, available in full on the CAA website, require NATS to be capable of meeting on a continuous basis any reasonable level of overall demand and charges them with permitting access to airspace on the part of all users, whilst making the most efficient overall use of airspace.
3. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its regulatory activities range from making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards to preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency.