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UK Civil Aviation Regulations

These are published by the CAA on our UK Regulations pages. EU Regulations and EASA Access Guides published by EASA no longer apply in the UK. Our website and publications are being reviewed to update all references. Any references to EU law and EASA Access guides should be disregarded and where applicable the equivalent UK versions referred to instead.

As the UK's aviation regulator we work so that:

  • the aviation industry meets the highest safety standards,
  • consumers have choice, value for money, are protected and treated fairly when they fly,
  • through efficient use of airspace, the environmental impact of aviation on local communities is effectively managed and CO2 emissions are reduced,
  • the aviation industry manages security risks effectively.

We are a public corporation, established by Parliament in 1972 as an independent specialist aviation regulator. The UK Government requires that our costs are met entirely from charges to those we provide a service to or regulate.

Most aviation regulation and policy is harmonised across the world to ensure consistent levels of safety and consumer protection. Worldwide safety regulations are set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

We run the ATOL holiday financial protection scheme.

We also economically regulate some airports and certain aspects of air traffic control.

Our consumer panel acts as a ‘critical friend’ providing a consumer perspective on all aspects of our work.

Our responsibilities


Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility
We regulate all UK airlines to ensure they comply with relevant international safety standards including European-wide safety regulations set by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). We do not have the legal power to determine the reliability or quality of service provided by airlines to their passengers. Nor do we certify or approve the design and manufacture of different types of aircraft - this is done at European level by EASA.
Wherever necessary, we take enforcement action against airlines who do not systematically comply with relevant consumer law, such as providing support to passengers who experience disruption. We also work to ensure airlines and airports comply with European regulations on providing assistance to passengers with reduced mobility. Our complaints team can investigate complaints from individual passengers who experience disruption, but we do not have the legal power to force airlines to pay compensation in these instances even if we think the passenger has a strong case. Nevertheless, this service has secured over £12 million in compensation for passengers in the last three years.

Some airlines have signed up to independent alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies, which can provide binding decisions on disputes between airlines and passengers. Passengers of these airlines should contact the relevant dispute resolution body with any complaints they have rather than the CAA.

Information on additional passenger rights-related issues that we can assist with are available from the passenger section of our website.

We take action to make sure airlines systematically display airfares transparently, for example including all unavoidable charges such as taxes in the headline price. This allows consumers to compare prices from different airlines and choose the flight that best meets their needs.

More information is in the passenger section of our website.

We do not regulate air fares. Airlines operate in a competitive market and set airfares based on their own individual specific business model

In addition, we do not determine the level of Air Passenger Duty (APD). This is set by HM Treasury.
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Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

We regulate all UK airports to ensure they comply with relevant international and UK safety standards.

More information on airport safety.

We only regulate service standards and the maximum amount airlines are charged to use airports at airports that have significant market power. This currently applies to Heathrow, with additional formal airport charge and service monitoring in place for Gatwick

Our regulation of airport charges is designed to ultimately ensure passengers and other airport users benefit from fair charges and services.

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Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

We consider and decide on airspace change proposals that are submitted to us, taking into account safety, efficiency and noise impact on local communities.

How airspace changes are decided

We do not instigate airspace changes or design flight paths ourselves as, these are instigated by the aviation community industry e.g. airports, general aviation or NATS.

In addition, the Government sets the policy approach for use of airspace and airspace change proposal decisions taken by the CAA e.g. narrow flight paths v dispersed flights over a wider area.

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Aviation capacity

Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

We are clear that without additional aviation capacity in the UK, passengers will suffer from less choice, more disruption and higher airfares. We are also clear that it is equally important for the industry to tackle the environmental impacts of aviation. Without reducing environmental impacts, the sector will not be able to grow.

We do not decide where new runways should be built. The decision on where to develop additional runway capacity lies with Government, which is currently considering the Airports Commission's recommendations.

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Aviation security

Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

We regulate security arrangements at UK airports, air carriers, cargo and in-flight suppliers to ensure that the relevant entities comply with UK and international security requirements.

We do not regulate security at airports outside of the UK, including for flights travelling to UK airports. The UK Government leads on international aviation security matters and UK airport security policy, including the setting of security standards.

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Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

We provide permission for drone operators when required, as well as providing advice to the general public and industry on how to fly drones safely and reduce risk to aviation.

Information on flying drones safely

The police leads on action against the misuse of drones 
We support the potential for innovative use of drone technology, but our focus is on making sure that any risks these future uses pose to aviation are managed effectively and proportionately.

Proposals for new laws governing drones are a matter for Government.

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Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

We challenge industry to take greater action to reduce the environmental impact of its activity and have legal powers to provide information about the environmental impact of aviation where it would help passengers make more informed decisions.

More information is available from the environment section of our website.

We monitor aviation noise levels around 3 UK airports designated by the Government (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted) and provide information and expert advice to Government and industry on noise matters.

We do not have the power to force airlines or other parts of industry to take certain actions on air quality issues. environmental impacts.

Noise is not a statutory nuisance in the UK.

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Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

Like most regulators in the UK, we are funded by the charges we levy on the industry we regulate.

We are not funded by the UK tax payer and are legally required to cover the cost of our regulatory activity through charges on the industry.

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Pilot medicals

Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

We provide oversight of independent aeromedical examiners and centres to ensure European-wide medical standards are met and pilots continue to undergo robust and effective medical assessments.

There are three aeromedical centres in the UK and nearly 200 independent aeromedical examiners in the UK.

More information is available from the medical section of our website.

We do not deliver initial medical assessments of pilots or air traffic controllers ourselves.

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Travel companies

Our responsibilities Areas outside of our responsibility

We regulate UK travel companies - through the ATOL scheme - to make sure they are financially sound to enter the market and their customers are protected in case of company failure.

We do not regulate travel companies' service standards e.g. the quality of the hotel, or customer service.

Information on how to resolve travel problems is available on our website.

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