• Our past performance

    A lot has happened over the past five years and these developments will have a significant influence on our current shape and our future strategy.

    Over the last five years, we have:

    • achieved significant progress moving from a compliance- to a performance-based approach to safety regulation;
    • maintained our status as an influential partner in international aviation regulation; and grown our reputation as one of the leading national safety regulatory authorities, supporting the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the delivery of its role in setting and enforcing safety regulation standards across aviation in Europe;
    • agreed a new price cap for Heathrow, introduced innovative new licence arrangements for Gatwick and economically de-regulated Stansted;
    • made a series of decisions about changes to UK airspace and recognised that change to the distribution of aircraft noise is an increasingly significant issue for residents near airports;
    • taken on responsibility from the Department for Transport for the oversight of aviation security under the provisions of the 2012 Civil Aviation Act;
    • implemented a new price settlement for UK air traffic control under a new European legislative framework;
    • established a dedicated unit for general aviation; 
    • managed regulatory responses to a series of high profile accidents, including: Sumburgh, Vauxhall, Clutha and Shoreham; and
    • achieved some significant changes to the effectiveness of CAA’s operations while improving our operating efficiency and holding charges to the aviation community flat.

    Our future drivers

  • The rules and conditions governing how aviation functions are often set at the global or regional level and influencing these is crucial to delivering our outcomes.

    Aviation is international and we recognise the importance and benefits of playing a full part in the international regulatory system.  Bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), European Commission and EASA, together with key international partners, such as the United States, make most of the rules that govern aviation. We have built  good working relationships with decision makers in these key institutions and have positively influenced the development of international standards and cooperative working arrangements. We will build on these strong foundations by continuing to support the aviation single market while supporting international solutions to the cross-border risks that consumers and the public face.  We will do this by continuing to play our role in supporting developments in the international regulatory system, supporting EASA and other national aviation authorities (NAAs) in fulfilling their responsibilities inside and outside Europe.  We recognise the centrality of EASA with our role as a key supporting NAA framed by European legislation.

    We also recognise that aviation's international reach has always made it susceptible to risks relating to the escalation of global tensions particularly in the areas of safety and security. Working with key partners such as the UK Government, we will continue to prioritise the effective management of those risks.

    As a facilitator and beneficiary of increased wealth, the growth of aviation and the economy have been closely linked.

    Air connectivity can help boost businesses and greater wealth leads to an increase in frequency of travel, creating greater demand for the UK's airport and airspace infrastructure. After a period of recovery following the 2008 financial shock, moderate global economic growth is forecast to continue over the course of the next five years albeit with some significant risks. If even modest economic growth continues in the UK, we will need more airport and airspace capacity in the South East of England. And before any new capacity becomes operational, the resilience of already stretched aviation infrastructure will come under further pressure. Similarly, an economic downturn will pose other challenges such as the ability and desire to fund investment in the future.  In any event, we will be required under new Government legislation applying to all regulators to take into account the impacts of our decision-making on economic growth.

    Global and regional approaches to regulation are becoming more uniform, enhancing competition between companies and leading companies to seek advantages in new commercial approaches.

    The shift towards greater globalisation of aviation continues apace, as reflected in the rapid growth of a number of Middle-Eastern airlines and the emergence of integrated companies controlling carriers that serve multiple markets. The aviation sector will continue to generate new business models in response to competition and we will seek to regulate in a way that facilitates innovation that benefits consumers and the public.

    While aviation has got quieter and more efficient, the environmental performance of aviation continues to pose challenges for everyone affected by the pollution it creates.

    Aviation creates significant benefits but also has negative impacts on those affected by noise, air quality and greenhouse gases. Almost all of us are in some way impacted by at least one of these pollutants, with the environmental costs perhaps most significant and direct for those living under busy flight paths such as those around Heathrow and Gatwick. The continued overall growth of the sector as well as specific plans for airport capacity expansion and airspace modernisation mean that stakeholder expectations will be a key driver for our activities. On issues of noise, we have clear statutory dutiesto balance the interests of the aviation community with those affected by noise and other environmental impacts on the ground. On other environmental issues such as addressing green-house gas emissions or air quality impacts from aviation, our duties are much narrower in scope.

    Technology is rapidly altering the way aviation works. Helping to create the right regulatory conditions for technological innovation is therefore one of our priorities for this plan.

    Five years ago, few people had heard of a drone. Now they are one of the fastest growing new technologies. Looking to the future, these and other technologies, such as space-planes and greater on-board digital automation, will grow, creating new opportunities and risks. We plan to position ourselves as facilitators of these changes.

    We can be certain that during the period of this plan, uncertainty will exist and unexpected events are likely to happen.

    Horizon-scanning can help us plan better for the future, but uncertainty is a given for any plan. Events are likely to occur and may have significant effects on our stakeholders. We will have to reprioritise our activities in order to respond promptly and effectively to events and ensure that we learn as much as we can to address the risk of such events happening again.