The internal structure of the Civil Aviation Authority

The CAA is a unique resource of over 1,000 people with expertise which addresses every sector of aviation in this country – from safety and airspace management to economics and consumer protection, from Airbus A380 to microlights and air displays. 

The CAA is divided into three Groups:

Safety and Airspace Regulation Group

The role of the CAA’s Safety and Airspace Regulation Group (SARG) is to ensure that UK civil aviation standards are set and achieved in a co-operative and cost-effective manner.  The CAA must satisfy itself that aircraft are properly designed, manufactured, operated and maintained; that airlines are competent; that flight crews, air traffic controllers and aircraft maintenance engineers are fit and competent; that licensed aerodromes are safe to use and that air traffic services and general aviation activities meet required safety standards. 

To monitor the activities of this complex and diverse industry, SARG employs a team of specialists. They have an exceptionally wide range of skills, including pilots qualified to fly in command of current airliners; test pilots able to evaluate all aircraft types; experts in flying training, leisure and recreational aviation activities; aircraft maintenance surveyors; surveyors conversant with the latest design and manufacturing techniques; flight test examiners; aerodrome operations and air traffic control specialists; and specialists in aviation medicine.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Commercial Aviation
  • General Aviation
  • Harmonising European Standards
  • Flight Operations
  • CAA Support to Government
  • Passenger Safety
  • UK Register of Civil Aircraft
  • Aircraft Maintenance
  • Structures, Materials & Propulsion
  • Aircraft Airworthiness
  • Aircraft Design & Manufacturing
  • Flight Crew Licensing
  • Medical Certification
  • Human Factors
  • Air Traffic Control Services
  • Aerodrome Licensing & Inspections
  • Incident Reporting
  • Research
  • International Consultancy & Training Services

The group is also responsible for the planning and regulation of all UK airspace including the navigation and communications infrastructure to support safe and efficient operations.  Staff include civilian and military experts with experience of commercial, business, recreational and military aviation.  The needs of all users are accommodated, as far as possible, with regard for safety as well as environmental, economic and national security considerations.

Specific responsibilities include:

For further information view the Airspace web pages. 

Regulatory Policy Group (RPG)

The Regulatory Policy Group (RPG) is a new unit that includes work previously organised as the Economic Regulation Group.  RPG's remit is to provide policy advice to colleagues across the CAA, aiming to help the organisation to put the consumer at the heart of its work.

The new Regulatory Policy Group has four core functions:

  • Economic regulation of the three designated airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) and NATS
  • Enforcement of consumer legislation - for example, to protect consumers in instances of flight cancellation and denied boarding, and protect people of reduced mobility when they fly.
  • Providing expert policy and economic advise and analysis across CAA, to government and others on airports, airlines and air traffic services
  • Collecting and analysing aviation statistics and survey responses

The changes are designed to help the CAA to take a holistic approach to our regulatory aims and ensure that all potential regulatory options are considered when deciding the ideal course of action to achieve best outcomes, across the organisation's work.  The changes also underline the Group's role in providing analytical and policy support across the CAA's mission - for example, on environmental issues.

Consumer Protection Group

The responsibilities of the Consumer Protection Group (CPG) are to

  • regulate the finances and fitness of travel organisers selling flights and package holidays in the UK;
  • manage the UK’s largest system of consumer protection for travellers, Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing or “ATOL”;
  • license UK airlines and enforce European Council requirements in relation to their finances, nationality, liability to passengers for death or injury and insurance;
  • enforce certain other legal requirements and codes of practice for protection of airlines’ customers.