We use necessary cookies to make our website work. We'd also like to use optional cookies to understand how you use it, and to help us improve it.

For more information, please read our cookie policy.

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.

Aviation’s impact on the environment is both international, through contribution to climate change, and local, through the effects on noise and air quality. Our powers in relation to aviation’s environmental impacts are currently focused, rather than overarching, which means we do not have a duty with regard to the environment across all our functions. Instead, we have specific duties in targeted areas, for example:

  • advising the Secretary of State on all civil aviation matters while having regard to safety, security, economic and environmental factors;
  • securing the most efficient use of airspace, as the decision-maker for airspace design changes. We must take environmental impacts into account - but in line with our primary duty, which is to ensure a high standard of safety, as part of a range of other factors and in line with government policy and guidance - when approving or rejecting proposals;
  • co-sponsoring the modernisation of the airspace, in line with the above duties;
  • protecting consumers, with additional legal powers to provide information about the environmental effects of aviation when it would help them to make more informed decisions;
  • reporting on the UK aviation sector’s environmental performance.

To date we have taken the view that government and industry are best placed to manage and mitigate those impacts. As such, we encourage industry to lead on these challenges and advises and support government on the reduction of the industry’s carbon emissions, the sharing of best practice and the development of international initiatives such as CORSIA. We also collaborate with several international bodies, such as ICAO, EASA and the European Commission who all have a role in the environmental regulation of aviation.

Enabling the development of low and zero-carbon technology and innovation, including sustainable aviation fuels

Innovative technologies will continue to develop and expand in the next five to ten years, as organisations seek to improve their carbon footprint, save costs and capitalise on opportunities. Government, through the Jet Zero Council, has an important role in encouraging and incentivising investments in new technology and fuels to guide and support the market in driving for these solutions. But we also have a key role to play to ensure that innovation can be safely, securely and sustainably introduced.

Close Enabling the development of low and zero-carbon technology and innovation, including sustainable aviation fuels

Co-leading the modernisation of the airspace

The Airspace Modernisation Strategy (AMS) is aimed at delivering cleaner, quicker and quieter journeys and more capacity for the benefit of those who use and are affected by UK airspace.

There are several environmental improvements that airspace modernisation will bring, such as reduced fuel burn and emissions per flight as well as less need for holding. Modernisation could also enable aircraft to climb more quickly, descend more quietly, and to navigate more accurately around population centres or other noise-sensitive areas.

We recognise that a more efficient use of airspace will generate additional capacity, in turn potentially leading to more flights and increased emissions. We recognise we have to consider these different factors in our work.

Close Co-leading the modernisation of the airspace

Reporting on the environmental performance of industry, including noise, and providing information to consumers on the environmental impact of aviation

We have a leading role, as the industry regulator, in enabling the delivery of decarbonisation and overseeing performance of the UK aviation sector. We have acquired a reporting duty from exiting the EU to assess, monitor and report on the environmental performance of the UK aviation industry, which we set out in our first UK Aviation Environmental Review. We intend to use this opportunity to make recommendations where delivery does not meet expectations and encourage better practice against the government’s strategy across the whole sector.

We also provide independent advice to government on civil aviation noise issues and are an addition to the technical advice the Department for Transport commissions from us on a number of noise analysis issues, and separate from the regulatory function to decide whether or not the design of airspace can be changed. We use the additional advisory functions to give government more information on which to make policy decisions, enable and encourage noise information to continue to be communicated accurately, appropriately and meaningfully and best practice on noise management to continue to be available and disseminated.

Close Reporting on the environmental performance of industry, including noise, and providing information to consumers on the environmental impact of aviation

Advising and supporting the UK government on domestic and international policy

We aim to develop relationships to support ongoing global improvement in aviation and aerospace, including on matters of sustainability. We focus on promoting the UK’s work in this area, sharing information, and importing knowledge and learning from other regulators and organisations back into the CAA, encouraging innovative thinking and coordinated engagement.

We contribute to the national and international debate on environmental policy where we have some distinctive value, and we advise government and the wider community. We continue to input into European Civil Aviation Conference work and ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection on matters related to more stringent environmental standards for new aeroplane types, long-term environmental trends assessments, development of noise standards for Emerging Technology Aircraft, and best practice airport noise modelling.

We also support the Department for Transport on matters of domestic and international policy through our Environmental Research and Consultancy Department (ERCD), with analysis and technical support for noise, carbon and air quality.

Close Advising and supporting the UK government on domestic and international policy

Reducing the impact of our corporate activities and operations

An important part of our work in sustainability is the way we address, reduce and mitigate the impacts of our own corporate operations on the environment. We have developed and agreed our corporate environmental strategy and have set the CAA’s net zero target to 2035. This target is being primarily delivered by reducing energy use across the organisation through improvements to our office estate, car fleet and travel plans.

Close Reducing the impact of our corporate activities and operations

Assessing local environmental impacts in relevant regulatory activity

These are the areas that are at the periphery of our remit, but that we think are important to take into account, to meet our ambition in considering environmental sustainability more holistically.

For example, we consider the impact of airspace changes to local air quality, biodiversity and tranquillity as part of our regulatory role in this space.

We also consider non-CO2 warming effects as part of our work in other areas, such as in relation to sustainable aviation fuels and novel technologies, for example taking into account the latest scientific research on this topic.

We continue to comply with our cross-cutting duties on habitats and biodiversity and have regard to the statutory purpose of National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty.

We consider the double materiality of risk assessment by looking at both mitigation of climate change effects and adaptation to those effects in aviation, both on the ground and in the air, for example turbulence. We produce a Climate Change Adaptation Report to contribute to the Government National Adaptation Plan.



Close Assessing local environmental impacts in relevant regulatory activity