• 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 beyond a 3-year timeframe to develop a pro-active approach to safety risk management and regulation. 

    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:

    • Convergence of technologies enabling new aerial telecommunications, internet solutions and new methods of managing airspace and air traffic
    • Increased automation leading to unmanned personal ‘air taxis’ or commercial air transport 
    • Evolution of new business models
    • New aircraft types and propulsion capabilities such as hypersonic aircraft
    • Environmental advances enabling alternative energy sources such as bio-fuels, hybrid electric or all electric propulsion

    A proportionate approach is required to blend our requirement to meet current day challenges whilst exercising thought leadership and harnessing relevant insight to build the future aviation risk picture. 


    • 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 and measuring the efficacy of the methodologies. 
    • 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.


    • 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.
    • The CAA held an 'Enabling Innovation in Aviation' conference, bringing together leaders from across aviation and other allied sectors. The conference allowed the CAA to consider and discuss opportunities to develop and adapt its regulatory engagement strategy to keep pace with future trends.