The first quarter of 2021 has seen the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) General Aviation Unit (GAU) focused on supporting the UK's General Aviation (GA) community on a safe return to flying following the government's easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

 This included:

  • Running COVID-19 recovery workshops with Key GA organisations
  • Published a Safety Notice, providing additional guidance for UK GA community member
  • Published exemptions providing support and flexibility to qualified pilots and students.

The Winter flying period continued to be dominated by the impact of the Global Coronavirus pandemic.  As the focus returned to preparing for an easing of national restrictions, we have continued to provide general guidance to the GA community.

Our activities include: 

  • An article on weight and balance to provide reminders and practical planning assistance in preparation for a return to flying
  • In March, we published version 3 of the Skyway Code. Designed to provide GA pilots with quick and easy access to key information relevant to their flying. Version 3 brings the publication up to date with changes to reflect the UK's departure from the European Union, as well as the latest regulatory requirements and best practice from the CAA. For more information and to download the updated free online version, please visit caa.co.uk/skywaycode

We have continued to work to follow our remit of regulating only when necessary and deliver on our top-level principles for better GA regulation. Achievements over the past three months include:

  •  We continue to administer the rebate scheme of up to £250 for new Electronic Conspicuity (EC) devices aimed at encouraging more adoption of EC within the UK's General Aviation (GA) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) communities. The Department for Transport has made additional funding available, so the scheme in operation since October last year, has been extended until 30 September 2021.  Full details on those eligible to apply, EC devices and how to claim a rebate are available on our website at www.caa.co.uk/ec. In support of this we have also produced a special edition Clued Up magazine on EC.
  • Our airworthiness team with key representatives from the fast jet aircraft community, hosted an ex-military jet forum on 7 April
  • We ran the inaugural Airborne Flying Display Director (AFDD) course, which saw 28 display pilots gain AFDD accreditation and a flying Display Director revalidation course which saw 12 ground based Flying Display Directors revalidate their accreditation.
  • Launched the Safety Promotion Events webpage detailing GA Safety Events across the GA community and membership organisations.  

We awarded a contract for the provision of GA safety promotions commencing from 1 April 2021 to Astral Aviation Consulting Ltd. We sought a third-party supplier to provide a cost effective and efficient safety promotion and safety education service to pilots across the general aviation sector to support existing work in this area. 

Throughout this work we have sought to deliver on our top-level principles for better GA regulation to help create a vibrant and dynamic GA sector in the UK. These principles are: 

  • Only regulate directly when necessary and do so proportionately
  • Deregulate where we can
  • Delegate where appropriate
  • Do not gold-plate, and quickly and efficiently remove gold-plating that already exists

Sophie-Louise O'Sullivan, Interim Head of the CAA's GA Unit said, “In order to support a safe return to flying, as a unit we have tried to share guidance and support as far and as wide as we can. Across the return to flying initiatives undertaken we have reached an audience of approx. 33,200. The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued guidance on recreational flying and we encourage all UK GA community members to be familiar with the guidance.”