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We Asked, You Said, We Did

Here are some of the issues we have consulted on and their outcomes. See all outcomes

We Asked

It is vital that that CAP 403 Flying Displays and Special Events: Safety and Administrative Requirements and Guidance remains up-to-date and relevant. And that the CAA’s guidance material in these areas remains proportionate, clear and unambiguous.

We asked for feedback from the regulated community on proposed amendments to CAP 403 ahead of the 2019 display season. 

One of our main objectives for this Edition was to simplify and streamline the content so that it remains most relevant to the intended audiences without being too onerous. This followed feedback from the community that previous Editions were burdensome because they contained material that was often repeated within the document, or it was or could have been presented efficiently elsewhere. 

A key finding was that the document attempted to exhaustively encapsulate all the relevant information (including regulatory processes as well as guidelines) for two distinct audiences: 

  1. Those who organise Flying Displays: namely Flying Display Directors (FDD) and Event Organisers (EOs). This includes the standards required to attain and maintain FDD accreditation, guidance on event organisation, safety management, display areas and crowd separation distances, and emergency procedures. 
  2. Those who fly in Flying Displays: namely Display Pilots and Display Authorisation Evaluators (DAEs). This includes information on the standards required to attain and maintain a Display Authorisation, how to be a DAE, as well as the regulatory material and safety guidelines on preparing for and preforming a Flying Display.

While there is some commonality between these two groups, we found that there was sufficient distinction to warrant splitting the content into two different but allied CAPs: one focusing on the organisation of Flying Displays and Special Events (CAP 403 Edition 16); and another setting out display standards for Display Pilots and DAEs (the new CAP 1724 Display Standards Document).  

We noted that it was in fact rare for one audience to need to know all the details required of the other, and therefore by splitting the guidance across two publications, each audience is better able to absorb the shorter, more targeted, and above all more relevant document. 

We compiled a draft of CAP 403 Edition 16 and consulted on it over six working weeks from Monday 3 December 2018 through to Friday 11 January 2019. The consultation for CAP 1724 Display Standards followed shortly thereafter and ran from 17 December 2018 to 18 January 2019.

You Said

We received a total of 476 different comments to the draft CAP 403 from 18 respondents. All respondents were from the Flying Display community including FDDs, EOs, Display Pilots and DAEs. Four responses were formal submissions from representative bodies or associations. 

The majority (77%) of the comments advocated changes that were textual in nature, suggesting streamlined wording or highlighting minor drafting points. Many of these were comments were duplicated between respondents. 

There were also another 30 comments (6%) that did not advocate any change, with most expressing support for the approach we took. For example, our decision to split the content into respective flying display organisation and display standards documents was largely supported by the respondents. There were no substantive objections to this approach.

The remaining 17% of the comments suggested more substantive amendments that implicated changes of policy. 

We Did

We accepted 261 of the all the comments suggesting some sort of change (59%), of which 95% resulted in an amendment to the proposed text. 

We accepted 59% of the 365 textual comments received. Most of these comprised rewording content for clarification, and we have tried to take a balanced view on what would be helpful. Several respondents suggested clarifying definitions, and where possible we tried to accept these, however some suggestions would have meant revising CAA standard definitions which involves further work and may be considered in due course.

Of the 81 substantive comments, we implemented 42%. These comprised of 22 comments directly changing the document, 11 that were thought to be similar to a change already made, and another 12 were noted for consideration in either another Edition of this CAP or another document such as CAP 1724 Display Standards. 

Regarding the changes we elected not to implement, some respondents requested further explanation that we deemed was either explained adequately elsewhere or was not necessary.  For example, some comments suggesting reinstating content that was actively removed from earlier Editions on the basis that they covered unregulated activities. The CAA later this year intends to publish a separate CAP providing safety guidance for unregulated activities such as balloon-only events, air races and rallies/fly-ins, and many of the comments received during this consultation will be incorporated accordingly. Other respondents highlighted changes that have been already reflected in another document, CAP 1724.

Finally, some suggested changes would require substantial policy review including in some cases amendment to the Air Navigation Order (ANO), both of which are beyond the scope of this consultation, but we welcome further inputs to policy and the ANO, as and when these are released for consultation. 

We have produced a final version of CAP 403 Edition 16, published 28 January 2019. 

We Asked

The purpose of this stakeholder engagement exercise was for the CAA to understand your views on our new draft Airspace Modernisation Strategy which will replace our 2011 Future Airspace Strategy (FAS).

The Government has tasked the CAA with preparing and maintaining a co-ordinated strategy and plan for the use of UK airspace for air navigation up to 2040, including for the modernisation of the use of such airspace. The Airspace Modernisation Strategy responds to that requirement and forms part of the Government’s new arrangements to take forward the delivery of the airspace modernisation programme. The strategy sets out the ends, ways and means of modernising airspace.

We invited feedback on the draft Airspace Modernisation Strategy – including its approach and the initiatives it set out as the primary ways to deliver modernisation.

You Said

We had 263 formal responses to the consultation, which we have published where we have permission to do so. Residents affected by aviation made up the majority of respondents. Of the 152 residents who responded, 74 (49%) used identical or very similar text, and mostly answered no to all questions.

Overall, 39% of respondents said that they agreed or mostly agreed with the approach as set out in the draft strategy (question 1), 5% did not answer. Residents affected by aviation were most likely to answer ‘no’, with 83% disagreeing. Members of the General Aviation community mostly agreed with the overall approach, with 90% saying they agreed or mostly agreed.

The second question asked if we had identified the right existing Government policies. Overall, 41% of respondents said that they agreed or mostly agreed compared to 50% who disagreed (9% did not answer).

Question 3 asked if respondents agreed with the 14 initiatives. Members of the General Aviation community had the strongest percentage in favour at 94%. Commercial aviation industry and national representatives were around 75% in favour. Seventy-nine per cent of residents affected by aviation disagreed. Overall, 41% of respondents said that they agreed or mostly agreed with the initiatives; 7% did not answer.

Question 4 asked if there were any gaps in the strategy and only invited free-text answers with no multiple-choice options.

Question 5 asked if respondents agreed with our approach of asking those organisations tasked with delivering the initiatives to set out deployment plans to identify the means (resources) necessary? Seventy-one per cent of members of the General Aviation community agreed with this approach. Commercial aviation industry and national representatives were 58% and 68% in favour respectively. Seventy-four per cent of residents affected by aviation disagreed with our suggested approach. Overall, 37% of respondents said that they agreed, and 12% did not answer.

Question 6 asked if respondents agreed with our approach set out in the draft governance structure which was developed by the Department for Transport, CAA and NATS working together. For this question the commercial aviation industry was the group with the largest percentage in favour at 74%. Seventy-one per cent of members of the General Aviation community were in favour, agreeing or mostly agreeing, whereas 80% of residents disagreed. Overall, 35% of respondents said that they agreed, and 8% did not answer.

Free text boxes on each question allowed respondents to give their reasoning and explain how the draft Airspace Modernisation Strategy could be improved.

The draft objective for modernisation and the proposed governance structure received the most attention. In terms of the draft objective for airspace modernisation:

  • residents affected by aviation were more likely to suggest that the focus should be on noise reduction and other environmental and health issues, rather than growth
  • members of the General Aviation community were more likely to express concerns that airspace may become constrained, more complex or would be difficult to influence
  • other respondents urged that the objective would need to carefully consider the trade-offs between a range of different issues.

In relation to governance issues raised, we recorded four different sentiments:

  • residents affected by aviation and government bodies (i.e. local authorities or parish councils) were more likely to suggest that community groups should be involved in the governance structure
  • the General Aviation community was more likely to suggest that they should be more involved in the governance structure
  • the commercial aviation industry and national representative organisations were more likely to suggest that industry should be involved at the top of the governance structure.
  • a mix of different stakeholders with different reasons wanted the Government and/or the CAA to hold industry to account more in delivery.

Funding and resourcing issues were mainly raised by the commercial aviation industry, the majority either suggesting that the Government should fund the modernisation programme or that those that were funding it should be more involved in the governance structure.

Smaller organisations were concerned that they would not have the resources to participate fully or influence change. Some suggested that the CAA needed to increase its resourcing.

Often raised in relation to the governance structure was the issue of vested interests, and the need for independent oversight or independent programme management.

In terms of technology, the specific points raised were mostly in relation to satellite-based navigation, drones and electronic conspicuity. Commercial aviation industry generally advocated the use of technology to improve efficiency, whereas residents were concerned about the concentration of flightpaths that could occur or had resulted from previous trials.

We Did

We have gone into more detail as to what respondents said and our responses to specific issues in our stakeholder engagement response document CAP 1710 Outcome of CAA stakeholder engagement on draft airspace modernisation strategy.

Some of the feedback received related to areas that we could not materially change in the strategy, for example relating to existing government policy or a dissatisfaction with the CAA or aviation industry in general.

However, the following areas, which attracted the most attention, have been updated:

  • the CAA and Department for Transport have redrafted the joint objective for airspace modernisation
  • the Airspace Modernisation Strategy includes new sections on the governance structure with more detail on the CAA and Department for Transport’s role as co-sponsors, the Delivery Coordination Function and clarification of the governance architecture (CAP 1711b Governance Annex to CAP 1711)
  • the Initiatives have been expanded to ensure air traffic management improvements have been captured, and a number of clarifications have been made in response to specific feedback
  • the requirements for a design masterplan have been modified and stated in more detail.

The updated Airspace Modernisation Strategy has now been published as required by the Secretary of State by the end of 2018: CAP 1711 Airspace Modernisation Strategy

For more information or clarification on the Airspace Modernisation Strategy please contact  

We Asked

We proposed that the requirement for the recording of a Flight Information Service (FIS), currently mandatory within CAP 797, but recommended within CAP 670 are harmonised and that both documents make the requirement mandatory. 

We asked about the impact of this change and proposed that all units offering a FIS service ensure they are providing recording facilities within a reasonable time scale. 

We proposed that so called ‘Custom PC based’ solutions where recording software is employed on a standard desktop computer are permitted as a temporary measure, and that such systems could be used as an interim solution for up to 5 years, by which point an appropriately approved recording system should be installed.

You Said

We received 13 responses to our consultation.  8 from FIS units impacted and 5 from other stakeholders.  The majority of responses were in favour of the proposal, many appreciating the safety benefits such a requirement would bring, many identifying specific examples where the provision of recording has provided critical evidence or would have been beneficial if installed at the time.  A number of responses suggested that such recording should already be mandatory.  The addition of the availability of an audio recording when investigating an accident or incident brings significant evidence and reduces the reliance on evidence from memory.  Many responses appreciated the additional protection this brings for FISO staff.

Specific feedback included:

  • Concern that the requirement for minimum specifications would add additional cost.  The CAA believe that a set of minimum specifications is critical to ensure interoperability when playing back recordings and ensures that the recording recovery team can interpret recording files.  Additionally a minimum set of requirements also ensures the credence of recordings which is a critical factor in the protection and retention of evidence.
  • Another response highlighted the additional cost of recording land lines due to the technical complexities and differences in recording differing telephone systems.
  • One response highlighted the requirement for a safety case and the burden this places on units that will have to produce it.
  • A number of units expressed concern regarding the immediate cost of such a system and the continued maintenance cost of such equipment, along with the additional costs due to the requirement to ensure equipment is appropriately accommodated and powered.

We Did

Following feedback we are maintaining our proposed approach, in light of some specific elements of the feedback we have made some minor modifications to the proposal and are investigating ways in which we can reduce the burden on individual units who have to install equipment.

As proposed in the consultation, The CAA will not require a full solution to be installed immediately, and for an interim period a PC based solution will be permitted.  Our research has shown that such a system can be purchased at a cost of between £600 and £1000 with little requirement for ongoing maintenance.  This system can be used for up to 5 years before a full system is required.  We believe this is a compromise that will allow time for units to establish funding for equipment whilst maintaining momentum behind the adoption of recording.  It also addresses units that have already made the investment in a PC based system and ensures a reasonable duration of use is achieved from such systems.  This time scale also considers the approaching introduction of the ATM-IR, which is likely to mandate recording of FIS.

The CAA understands that maintenance costs can be kept low and that some manufacturers offer maintenance packages as low as £400 per year.  Whilst the requirement will add some additional costs we believe the ongoing costs that would be passed onto the flying public are acceptable and that the safety benefits of mandating recording outweigh the financial impact.  As discussed within the original consultation, we are aware that a significant majority of FIS units already record radio transmissions.

We have reviewed the requirement for the recording of telephone systems and will modify this requirement to be highly recommended to reflect the considerable costs that could be incurred by having to record a wide range of different systems including VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). 

Overall following feedback we believe the introduction of recording for FIS and the harmonisation of requirements as discussed in the consultation is beneficial for all.

What happens next?

Our intention, following this consultation is to update the relevant documentation to clarify this requirement.  As originally indicated, it is our intention to require all FIS units to provide recording services through appropriate recording equipment within 1 year, this includes the use of a custom PC based recorder, provided it is configured as required by the consultation document.  Finally, within 5 years recording should be provided through the use of appropriately approved systems (as specified within CAP 670).

Please Note:

Please note that the introduction of Regulation 2017/373 (ATM-IR)  may have an impact on the equipment requirements in future.  The CAA will provide updates on the rule making process as it progresses.  Any units making a purchase of equipment are recommended to discuss their requirements with the CAA so the latest information can be considered.