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 Policy and Legislative Development Programme

Together with the Department for Transport (DfT) we are responsible for the development of aviation safety legislation and policy in the UK.
The Policy and Legislative Development Programme will be conducted within the framework of the UK’s aviation strategy and Our Strategy.
We will conduct regular reviews of the impact of its policy and the UK’s legislative developments.

Aviation policy and legislative development process

This process sets out the various stages of the policy response to aviation safety issues and opportunities, including those that result in the developing and issuing of our opinions, the development of legislation, and the development of certification specifications and other detailed specifications, acceptable means of compliance, guidance material (“AMC/GM/CS”).

The process has five stages:

  • Stage 1 - Capture drivers
  • Stage 2 - Define issue
  • Stage 3 - Policy development
  • Stage 4 - Delivery policy
  • Stage 5 - Review policy

A description of each of these stages is set out below.

Stage 1 – Capture Drivers

Policy and legislative development projects will be initiated in accordance with the priorities set out annually in a 5-year Policy and Legislative Development Programme.
When establishing the Policy and Legislative Development Programme, all relevant issues will be considered, including the following:

  • the CAA and Secretary of State's functions in the Civil Aviation Act 1982;
  • the UK's international treaty obligations as they apply to Aviation Safety (e.g. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO));
  • Government policy and the Secretary of State's priorities;
  • the CAA's regulatory principles;
  • identified safety issues and opportunities - taking into account interdependencies between the different domains of aviation safety, and between aviation safety, cyber security and other technical domains of aviation regulation;
  • the need to consider the results of air accident investigations in so far as they relate to aviation safety requirements;
  • technological and scientific progress and new business models which reflect the state of the art and best practices in the field of aviation; and
  • emerging air traffic needs.

Any person or organisation may propose that an issue is addressed including proposing the development of new law or amendments to existing law or to Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC)/Guidance Material (GM)/Certification Specifications (CS) or our policy. We will consider such proposals when prioritising developments.

We anticipate that potential “drivers” requiring a policy or legislative response will arise on a continuing basis and with some on-going themes. For example, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirements, developments to other National Aviation Authority regulations or enabling new technology. We will monitor these thematic areas, receive direct suggestions for change, call for ideas and regularly discuss potential drivers at industry forums.

Close Stage 1 – Capture Drivers

Stage 2 – Define Issue

When a driver requiring a response is identified, we will define the issue in greater detail and seek approval from the joint DfT/CAA Sponsorship Board for the project to proceed within the context of the broader work programme.
Projects that are approved by the joint DfT/CAA Sponsorship Board will be published on our website.

Close Stage 2 – Define Issue

Stage 3 – Policy development

Policy responses to different issues take different forms. In defining the issue at stage 2 we will consider a range of options to achieve the policy outcome. During stage 3 we explore these options to determine the correct way to proceed, whether that be safety promotion, focused oversight, research/studies, or development of legislation, certification specifications, other detailed specifications, acceptable means of compliance and guidance material. If it is determined that legislation is the likely option, this will be identified on the UK Aviation Safety Rule Making Plan.

This means that there are different development pathways that can be taken at this stage of the process. Whichever of these pathways we follow we will always engage with, listen to and learn from stakeholders and always consider the benefit and cost impacts of any solution that is developed.

Public stakeholder consultation can take place at any and, perhaps, multiple stages, within the policy and legislative development process. In some cases we may establish working groups to inform our policy considerations. The timing of public consultation for each policy project will vary depending on the particular circumstances of each. All consultations and their outcomes will be published here.

Legislative development

Where a policy change is to be effected through legislative change, the development pathway involves the us and DfT working together. Only Parliament or in some cases Ministers can decide to change the law but they do so taking into account CAA advice.

Therefore, once the policy change has been agreed by CAA and DfT at Stage 2, the CAA will develop an “Opinion and Instruction document” designed to recommend to DfT the legislation to be developed incorporating instructions for the drafting of the legislation should the recommendation contained within the issued opinion be accepted.

All policy and legislative developments require an assessment of their costs and impacts. In accordance with Cabinet office principles, where the anticipated costs or benefits to business of the policy change exceed £5m, the DfT will decide whether a formal regulatory impact assessment is required and whether any similar impact assessment exercise conducted earlier in the process already meets that obligation. We will develop any new impact assessment needed, which will be published by DfT.

Our issued Opinion and Instruction document will be published and DfT will rely on it to develop the legislation required in a process that, depending on its complexity, could take up to 6 months. The finalised legislation will then be published, before coming into effect, generally speaking, 21 days afterwards. Once it is known exactly when any changes or amendments to the law are to come into effect then we will issue a SkyWise.

Close Stage 3 – Policy development

Stage 4 – Deliver policy

The approach to be taken to implementing policies will be determined during their development. Where legislative changes, or Certification Specifications and other detailed specifications changes, or AMC or guidance material changes are developed, then we will communicate and promote the changes on our website and other channels.

Close Stage 4 – Deliver policy

Stage 5 – Review policy

We will subject the policies and legislative changes developed under this programme to post implementation review which will, amongst other things, consider whether the policy is delivering against the original driver and expected outcomes.

Close Stage 5 – Review policy