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Aviation Safety Regulation within a European Framework

The role of the CAA’s Safety Regulation Group is to develop our UK world-class aviation safety environment, in partnership with industry, by driving continuous improvements in aviation safety in the UK and, in partnership with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), across Europe.

The European Community established EASA in 2003 with the legal competence to be the rulemaking and standard setting organisation for all aviation safety regulation on behalf of its member states.  The agency is now actively undertaking the tasks of aircraft and product certification, and it has responsibility for the rules related to the design and maintenance of aircraft products and parts, plus setting standards for those organisations involved in design, production and maintenance of these products and parts.  Arrangements for further expansion of the Agency’s rulemaking role are advancing apace and the detailed Implementing Rules for aircraft operations and flight crew licensing are expected to be completed during 2009.  Similarly, work has begun on developing draft (high level) Essential Requirements to cover air traffic management and aerodrome activities, and this is expected to be the third and final major phase of the transition to a coherent European rulemaking body for aviation safety regulation. 

Because this latter work has direct implications within the European Commission’s ‘Single European Sky’ initiative, CAA is making a significant contribution to the UK Government’s position on the development of this highly complex project. Indeed, throughout this challenging period of change CAA SRG will continue to work closely with UK Government and the industry to further develop and project UK influence within the evolution of the new European aviation regulatory framework.  

The Complementary Tasks

As a National Aviation Authority, the CAA SRG still has a statutory duty to exercise full rulemaking and oversight responsibility for all those aspects not being adopted by EASA.  Moreover, as a Competent Authority within the new European framework, CAA SRG is required to deliver strong safety oversight of UK industry against EASA’s pan-European rules and standards, in addition to pursuing our national strategic objective of ensuring that the UK’s aviation good safety performance is, at least, sustained at its present level.  For example, CAA is tasked with regulatory oversight of production, maintenance and continuing airworthiness management organisations whether approved to UK or EASA standards.

Continuous improvement and enhanced risk-based performance monitoring by UK CAA will be key to meeting these responsibilities.  CAA is committed to a strong partnership with the Agency and to active engagement with other European partners and institutions in the promotion of a mature, efficient and effective European safety framework.  One that is capable of providing harmonised rules and inculcating strong safety behaviours, and one which exercises rigorous and consistent enforcement among the Member States.  These conditions will, in turn, deliver the enhanced safety and economic benefits expected by both Europe’s aviation industry and the society it serves.

The developing European framework for the regulation of aviation safety has at its heart ‘2 pillars’ – EASA and the National Aviation Authorities of the Community member states.  Collectively, therefore, a maturing European regulatory system will continue to be focused on seeing that aircraft are properly designed, manufactured and operated and maintained; that airlines operate safely; that flight crews, air traffic controllers and aircraft maintenance engineers are suitably skilled; that licensed aerodromes are safe to use and that air traffic control services and general aviation activities meet the required safety standards.

The Specialist Teams

To monitor the activities of the UK’s complex and diverse industry, SRG employs a mixed team of specialists. They have an exceptionally wide range of skills, including pilots qualified to fly in command of current airliners; a test pilot capability; experts in flying training, leisure and recreational flying activities; aircraft maintenance surveyors; surveyors conversant with the latest design and manufacturing techniques; flight test examiners; aerodrome operations and air traffic control specialists; doctors skilled in all branches of aviation medicine.  The size and nature of our specialist mix is, of course, continually being adapted as EASA gradually absorbs its growing rulemaking responsibilities – a notable example is the 70% reduction in aircraft certification resources.  Nonetheless, it must be recognised that CAA SRG still has a substantial and vital role to play in overseeing the safety performance of the UK aviation industry, which is the largest in Europe.  However, the difference now is that it does so, increasingly, against a mix of national and European requirements.

Further EASA regulatory information, including a regular CAA information bulletin, is available through the EASA entry on the left hand menu; and more extensively through the EASA website.

Safety Regulation Group
Civil Aviation Authority
Aviation House
Gatwick Airport South
West Sussex RH6 0YR
T: 01293 567171
3 September 2008