• Rationale

    The aviation risk landscape is evolving at an unprecedented rate. As well as understanding current risks, applying proportionate and appropriate regulation through our Regulatory Safety Management System (RSMS), there is an increasing need for mechanisms that enable capture of future risks. With the RSMS focussing on risks from our present activities, ‘Horizon Scanning’ is intended to systematically identify threats in the aviation system to develop a pro-active approach to safety risk management and ultimately regulation, enabled by a formal Innovation pipeline.

    Horizon scanning is not predictive but is an investigative methodology to ascertain evidence about future trends in order to inform and prepare.  Effective stakeholder engagement is key to maximising the integrity of the information, requiring intelligent interaction both internally within the CAA, and with industry.  Examples of disruptive innovations which may present risks which are not yet mature enough to be incorporated into the RSMS, but are of sufficient maturity to be considered credible in terms of horizon scanning capture may include:

    • Increased automation leading to personal ‘air taxis’ (Urban Air Mobility) or unmanned commercial air transport 
    • Evolution of new business models
    • New aircraft types and propulsion capabilities such as boundary layer ingestion, distributed propulsors, hypersonic aircraft, eVTOL.
    • Environmental advances enabling alternative energy sources such as bio-fuels, hybrid electric or all electric propulsion

    The CAA will identify, monitor and explore disruptive innovation in technology, new business models and regulation which are not yet of sufficient maturity to be fully incorporated into the Regulatory Safety Management System (RSMS).  This Innovation pipeline requires significant dedicated resource in order to establish appropriate regulatory frameworks. CAA Horizon Scanning is intended to help us identify disruptive innovations that will require regulatory attention. These will, in time, be devolved to the CAA capability areas for risk management under the RSMS. Current leading items under development include Spaceplanes and new maintenance practices.

    Outcomes

    • A robust process for identifying and reviewing future aviation safety risks to the UK citizen. 
    • A visible and evolving portfolio of future aviation risk based on industry intelligence. 
    • A mechanism for tracking horizon scanning risks based upon assessment of relative impact and their proximity to being realised.
    • An effective stakeholder map enabling formulation of networks for the gathering and sharing of aviation risk information.
    • A seamless dialogue between industry experts and the regulator to inform the future aviation risk picture and influence the future regulatory framework.
    • An understanding of potential future operating environments to influence a proportionate regulatory response via the innovation pipeline.

    Actions

    • Development of the UK aviation overall risk picture, including visibility of disruptive innovation risks.
    • Completion of an external stakeholder mapping exercise in order to identify key strategic partners. 
    • Embedding of the horizon scanning framework, enabling stakeholders across industry to participate in information sharing and risk identification, with a conduit in place between industry and the CAA.
    • Continued internal CAA engagement and feedback to ensure our in house experts can feed their knowledge into a recognised risk picture.
    • Formulation of themes which demonstrate where risk management efforts should focus and potentially influence the regulatory direction.
    • Evolving a methodology to appropriately ‘score’ and prioritise horizon activities in the absence of data to inform traditional probability vs severity measures.
    • We are addressing the demand from industry for greater engagement with the CAA in respect of aerospace innovation, as expressed at the 2018 ‘Enabling Innovation in Aviation’ conference. We will utilise the award from the Regulators Pioneer Fund to further our ability to meet this demand.