The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requires the UK to put in place a State Safety Programme (SSP) to regulate and oversee the UK aviation system. For the UK, this covers the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK ‘Main’), the UK’s Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies. This diagram shows a simplified relationship between the UK as a Contracting State and ICAO.
The UK formally left the EASA system on 31 December 2020. The UK’s European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 caused all EU legislation that was in force and effective on 31 December 2020 to be in force in the UK. This is “UK retained EU legislation.” That legislation was then amended by UK secondary legislation to become legally operable in the UK.
The CAA continues to exercise a full role as a member of intergovernmental bodies such as ICAO and Eurocontrol. In terms of the implementation of ICAO requirements, UK Government Directions to the CAA (the Air Navigation (Chicago Convention) Directions 2007 (2022 amendment in progress)) require CAA to co-ordinate and submit to ICAO any necessary response to an ICAO State Letter. The CAA must also consider the optimum manner of transposing ICAO requirements and proposing new or amended domestic legislation where applicable. Under retained EU legislation (the UK Basic Regulation, UK (EU) Reg 2018/1139).
The UK promulgates primary legislation through UK Acts of Parliament. UK legislation comprises domestic law and retained EU legislation. The principal domestic primary safety legislation is the Civil Aviation Act 1982 which enables secondary legislation, the Air Navigation Order 2016 (“the ANO”). This regulates safety aviation in UK “Main” that is overseen by the CAA, alongside detailed implementing regulations made under the UK Basic Regulation ((EU) Reg 2018/1139 as above), which is the principal retained EU primary safety legislation. The ANO also contains powers for the CAA to enforce the requirements of all UK aviation safety legislation and establishes penalties and offences.
Currently UK legislation remains closely aligned with that of the EU/EASA. However following EU-Exit it is open to the UK to depart from such requirements, but whether it does so is determined on a case-by-case basis. It is however fully committed to continued compliance with ICAO requirements.
Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) between the DfT and each of the Crown Dependencies assist the UK Government in meeting its obligations under the Chicago Convention. Each MoU covers the obligations of both parties including the obligation of each Crown Dependency to arrange for regular external audits of its safety oversight arrangements.
Air Safety Support International (ASSI) is responsible, where appropriate, for providing assistance, training and advice to the Overseas Territories’ aviation authorities.
Where there is no civil aviation regulator within the Overseas Territory, or it does not have the resources or the expertise to undertake the task itself, ASSI can be designated by the Governor to perform the civil aviation regulatory tasks. Where it is not the designated regulator, ASSI provides the role of policy maker, advisor and assessor of the effectiveness of regulatory oversight. More detail can be found in the ASSI State Safety Programme.
While Gibraltar is an Overseas Territory, it is currently within the EU and is covered by the EASA regulatory framework. It also has its own Civil Aviation Act and associated subordinate regulations. As Gibraltar International Airport is based on a military airfield, most aviation safety issues are regulated by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA). Issues affecting aviation safety in the civil section of the Airport and elsewhere in Gibraltar are overseen by the Gibraltar Director of Civil Aviation with technical support from the UK CAA. The CAA are also responsible for the safety of UK airlines using the airport.
Military aviation taking place in the UK can impact civil aviation so the MAA are an SSP stakeholder. The MAA regulates and oversees military operations. The accountabilities and responsibilities of the MAA are defined in MAA01 - Military Aviation Authority Regulatory Policy.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigates civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents within the UK, its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. These are conducted under the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2018 (and the equivalent regulations in the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies), and Regulation (EU) 996/2010, which comply with the international standards and recommended practices of ICAO Annex 13. The AAIB is also the UK safety investigation authority for overseas accidents and serious incidents where there is a UK interest. In support of this work, the AAIB has several Memorandums of Understanding. These are listed on the AAIB website.