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The accident at the Shoreham Air Show in 2015 was a terrible tragedy and our thoughts remain with those left behind. The CAA is committed to making sure that all UK civil air displays operate to the very highest safety standards.
The CAA acted immediately following the accident by launching a comprehensive review of the regulation and oversight of UK civil air shows. An independent, external panel of experts oversaw the review. The Final Report was published in April 2016 and identified a total of 29 action items all designed to enhance the existing system and to make sure future UK civil air shows are even safer. These action items included issuing new guidance on enhanced risk assessments for flying displays; strengthening provisions in areas such as training, additional checks for those overseeing display flying and a review of the experience, skill and health requirements for display pilots. Air show organisers and display pilots were required to implement many of these enhancements in time for the 2016 air display season, with the remainder all being progressed as a priority.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) undertook an investigation into what caused the Shoreham Air Show accident and published their final report in March 2017. In addition to the 21 Safety Recommendations published in earlier 'Special Bulletins' or interim reports, the AAIB published a further ten recommendations for the CAA in its final report. The CAA has accepted all of the AAIB's safety recommendations. Work is complete on 19 of these recommendations and continues as a priority on the remaining 12, with four scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.
For the CAA and the air display community, 2016 was a period of change. In order to ensure the 2016 civil air display season could proceed, many of the enhanced safety measures were introduced and new procedures put in place in response to the AAIB's safety recommendations. These actions included: the introduction of fitness assessments for display pilots, display pilot evaluators and Flying Display Directors; the reviewing of risk assessments as part of the Flying Display Permission issuing process; enhancements to the protection of spectators at air displays.
The CAA also commissioned Helios - a specialist, independent aviation consultancy - to carry out a post-implementation review on our behalf. Helios looked at how our enhanced measures had affected air displays during the 2016 season by surveying air display organisers, display pilots, and attendees. They received mixed feedback. Helios found that: the CAA had delivered on its commitments; attendees' experience at air shows was overwhelmingly positive; fewer people were congregating at unofficial secondary viewing sites outside of the perimeter of the air show; notable concerns were identified by some members of the air display community.
The concerns from air display organisers and pilots centred around the speed with which the CAA had introduced the new enhanced measures and the lack of consultation with stakeholders as well as the additional processes required of them. The CAA has listened to this feedback and, where possible, while protecting the enhanced safety framework, are continuing to address their concerns. Investment has been made in providing additional resource within the relevant CAA departments and in offering guidance to air display organisers on the enhanced risk assessment process. CAP 403, which sets out safety and administrative requirements and guidance for civilian flying displays and special events, has been reviewed and updated accordingly.
There is now greater familiarity with the enhanced safety framework. Ongoing pre- and post-season seminars and training courses continue to take place for the air display community which is deliver real benefit. Our collective focus is now on the 2018 air display season. We remain fully committed to ensuring that all air shows take place safely for the six million people who attend them each year in the UK and for the communities in which they take place.
The CAA has confirmed that restrictions on swept wing ex-military jet aircraft, introduced after the Shoreham airshow accident, will remain in place.
Following publication of the final Shoreham accident report and the enhancements to airshow safety introduced since 2015, precautionary restrictions on straight wing ex-military jet aircraft will be lifted. This will enable these aircraft to conduct full aerobatic displays at all UK airshows rather than the restricted displays they have performed for the past two years.
This will come into effect on the publication of a revised safety notice on 28 February 2018.
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