The CAA’s statutory duties and functions are contained in The Civil Aviation Authority (Air Navigation) Directions 2017, Section 70 of the Transport Act 2000 and the Air Navigation Guidance 2017.
The Secretary of State has given the CAA the function to approve changes to the design of airspace in the Civil Aviation Authority (Air Navigation) Directions 2017, as amended by the Civil Aviation Authority (Air Navigation) (Amendment) Directions 2018 and the Civil Aviation Authority (Air Navigation) (Amendment) Directions 2019.
The 2017 Directions form an annex to the Air Navigation Guidance 2017 and the 2018 and 2019 amendments will also be annexed in due course. For ease of reference, the CAA has produced its own version consolidating the 2018 and 2019 amendments into the 2017 Directions. In particular these Directions require the CAA to develop and publish procedures, and guidance on such procedures, for the development, making and consideration of a proposal for a permanent change to airspace design, a temporary change to airspace design, or an airspace trial. This is published by the CAA as CAP 1616 Airspace Design: Guidance on the regulatory process for changing airspace design including community engagement requirements. Any such procedure must be proportionate and reflect published Government policy. The airspace design approved by CAA is published in the UK Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).
The amendments to the Directions give the CAA a new decision-making role from 1 February 2020 for what is called “a relevant PPR”. This is where an air navigation service provider proposes to make particular changes to air traffic control procedures that are anticipated to give rise to a planned and permanent redistribution of air traffic. We recently consulted on what form the decision-making process should take.
Section 70 of the Transport Act 2000 places the CAA
under a general duty in relation to its air navigation functions to exercise
those functions so as to maintain a high standard of safety in the provision of
air traffic services. That duty is to have priority over the CAA’s other duties
in this area of work. Noting that priority, the CAA’s duties in relation to air
navigation is to exercise its functions in the manner it thinks best so that:
The CAA adopts the following approach when undertaking its regulatory
assessment of airspace change proposals:
An airspace change proposal that satisfies all the factors in section 70(2) should be approved by the CAA. In making this decision, the CAA should give the duty to secure something higher weight than the duty to satisfy or facilitate. For example, we would give the duty to secure the most efficient use of airspace higher weight than the duty to satisfy owners and operators of aircraft. We assess that the term to take something into account reflects that some factors may or may not be applicable in a particular case (for example, national security) and the range of impact on a decision outcome could be significant. Thus its weight will depend heavily on the circumstances of the individual case, giving the CAA discretion to apply the appropriate expert judgement when balancing all factors. It should be noted that not all of the factors will be relevant in all cases.
Where a proposed change would satisfy some of the duties, but would not
deliver others, the law refers to this situation as a conflict.
Where there is a conflict, Section
70(3) requires the CAA to apply the factors in the manner it thinks is
reasonable having regard to them as a whole. The CAA has always done this, but there is no predetermined policy on
how it weights the factors and balances them in a reasonable manner in the case
of a conflict. There may be good reasons why the CAA may in some cases resolve
“conflicts” other than in accordance with the relevant weight indicated by the
statutory language, and we consider that the wording in Section 70(3) gives the
CAA wide discretion. Consequently, there is a greater need to give clear
reasons and evidence for deviating from relative weights set out in the
statutory wording. Examples of cases where the CAA is likely to resolve a
conflict other than in accordance with the relative weighting in section 70(2)
Section 70(2) of the Transport Act 2000 requires the CAA to take
account of any guidance on environmental objectives given to it by the
Secretary of State when carrying out its air navigation functions. These
functions are set out in the Secretary of State’s Air Navigation Directions
2017, as amended in 2018 (see above), made under sections 66(1) and 68
of the Transport Act 2000. Such Air Navigation Guidance was last issued in
October 2017. Its full title is Air
Navigation Guidance 2017: Guidance to the CAA on its environmental objectives
when carrying out its air navigation functions, and to the CAA and wider
industry on airspace and noise management.
The Air Navigation Guidance and Air Navigation Directions issued
in October 2017 followed a consultation by the Department for Transport about
airspace and noise policy. The Air Navigation Guidance, in addition to being
statutory guidance to the CAA on environmental objectives in respect of its air
navigation functions, also gives more information on the Secretary of State's
role in the airspace change process. In accordance with the Air Navigation
Directions 2017, as amended in 2018 (see above), in some cases the Secretary of
State rather than the CAA may make decisions on proposals to make permanent
changes to airspace design where the proposal meets certain criteria. The Secretary of State has provided guidance
on the meaning of these
criteria. The Air Navigation Guidance is not just aimed at the CAA. The
Government also expects that it will be taken into consideration by the
aviation industry. The Air Navigation Guidance also acknowledges the important
role which local communities have in the airspace change process.
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