Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation

The Department for Transport Business Plan commits to develop a Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation. The Government has now published a Scoping Document for the Framework. The Scoping Document frames the debate and asks a series of questions to initiate a dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders on the future direction of aviation policy. Stakeholders have until 30 September 2011 to respond to the questions in the Scoping Document.


Aviation is a major UK industry, carrying over 235 million passengers a year and over 2.3 million tonnes of freight. Demand for air travel is projected to grow in the medium to long-term. DfT has put in place a long-term framework that balances the delivery of social and economic benefits from aviation, with the need to reduce and mitigate the environmental impacts of air transport and airport development.

Aviation is an industry that operates essentially without subsidy, and all key players are either in the private sector or operate commercially. The Department's role is therefore to develop policies and long-term strategies; to facilitate their implementation; and to lead international negotiations in the aviation sector.

To do this the Department works with a number of different individuals and organisations including airlines, airports, regulators, other government departments, international governments, trade associations, embassies and consumer representatives.

The industry is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), an independent body with responsibility for economic, safety and consumer protection regulation, and airspace policy. In addition, the CAA advises the Government on aviation issues, represents consumer interests, conducts economic and scientific research and produces statistical data.

Aviation's international nature means that there are few areas, apart from airport development, in which the UK is free - or can effectively - make policy in isolation from other countries. Most new aviation legislation now originates at the European Union (EU) level; and in the air traffic management field, through EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. On wider European issues we co-operate closely with the 40 other countries in the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC). Globally, we co-operate with the 188 signatories to the Chicago Convention, working through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Air services to non-EU countries are subject to a complex web of bilateral treaties known as Air Services Agreements (ASAs). The Department is responsible for managing existing ASAs and negotiating new ones. ASAs restrict the number and type of services that can be operated. The UK generally seeks to open up and liberalise these agreements so as to enable airlines to operate competitively. The EU is taking an increasing role in this area.

Air traffic management services in the UK are mainly provided by National Air Traffic Services (NATS), a public-private partnership regulated by the CAA. The Government is one of two principal shareholders; but the other - the Airline Group, a group of the seven main UK airlines - is the controlling shareholder.

Air traffic management

Provides information on Single European Sky (SES), National Air Traffic Services (NATS), Lower Airspace Radar Services (LARS), and other air traffic control issues.

Air traffic forecasts

This section contains copies of the Air Traffic Forecast publication.


Detailed information relating to all aspects of airports including development, aircraft maintenance, and air freight studies.

Aviation safety

Information regarding aviation safety including Dft's Transport Security Division's mission statement and information on foreign airlines (or individual aircraft) that are being refused permits to operate commercial services to the UK.

Domestic issues

Government responses to Select Committee and Transport Committee reports on domestic issues, and the sponsorship statement for the Civil Aviation Authority.

Environmental issues

This section contains information on various environmental issues including aircraft noise, sleep disturbance, health in aircraft cabins and disruptive behaviour on board UK aircraft, and on the Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow.

Health and consumer issues

This section contains information on various issues including health in aircraft cabins and disruptive behaviour on board UK aircraft.

Aviation permits

Any operator of a foreign-registered aircraft must obtain an Aviation Permit from the Secretary of State for Transport before operating in UK airspace. Details of how to apply for and obtain such permits can be found in the links below.

International services

The Department for Transport's work on improving international services for the UK.


Aviation research.

Useful links for aviation

Useful links to other sites for aviation.

18 January 2005
Last update:
06 March 2009

Glossary of Useful Terms

A list of terms associated with Aviation.

18 January 2006

Aviation External Advisory Group

The Aviation External Advisory Group maintains a formal channel of communication between the Department for Transport and external stakeholders.

Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) Veterans Badge

If you served in the ATA during the Second World War then you are eligible to receive an ATA Veterans Badge.

Email contacts

13 January 2006
Last update:
02 March 2010

South East Airports Taskforce

Archived content

The following content is available from the Department for Transport web archive .

For related documents, pages and internet links, see the column on the right.