We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We Asked

For comments from industry on the following main proposals:

A general price increase of 1.5% across all Schemes of Charges in 2017/18;

Proposals of specific charges to cover our costs in four areas where we are undertaking new activities, being:

  • Airspace Change Process (ACP)
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
  • Aviation Security
  • Medical

Proposals to review the charging structure under the General Aviation Scheme of Charges concerning regulatory activities relating to the unmanned aircraft systems and small unmanned aircraft.

You Said

This document includes the comments received and the outcome:  CAA Response Document

We Did

We are grateful for the submissions received and after CAA Board discussion, we have implemented all proposals made subject to one amendment relating to the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing Scheme of Charges. Please see the CAA Response Document for details.

We Asked

Following a comprehensive review of CAP 699 - Framework for the competence of rescue and fire fighting service personnel - we carried out a short consultation in October and November 2016 to seek views from industry on a draft of CAP699.

We had previously consulted with Industry following changes to RFFS training brought about by the introduction of EU Aerodrome Regulation (Commission Regulation (EU) No. 139/2014) communicated in IN-2014/133. This showed a strong desire by Industry to retain CAP 699 as guidance material for Aerodrome RFFS personnel, but to bring it up to date.

We invited review of the draft CAP 699 and welcomed your comments on:

  • Chapter 1 – Establishing a training and proficiency check programme, and comment as required
  • Chapter 2 – Managing a training and proficiency check programme and comment as required
  • Chapter 3 – Do the core and role related units detailed in the Firefighter framework adequately cover the requirements of CAP 168 & EASA?


You Said

This document includes the comments received and the outcome: www.caa.co.uk/CAP699R


We Did

Edition 3 of CAP 699, published in January 2017, is available online: www.caa.co.uk/CAP699

We Asked

The UK’s airport and airspace capacity is constrained, and there will be no new significant airport runway capacity until 2025. Our busiest airports are regularly among the worst performing in Europe in terms of on-time performance. Although passengers benefit from increases in capacity, such as those which arise from higher runway utilisation, they also suffer if that leads to more delays and worse reliability.

The purpose of this consultation was for the CAA to explore two key areas from a UK perspective, recognising that the issues are likely to be more severe in the South East of England:

  • How can the performance of the aviation network be improved or optimised?
  • How effective is the current regime and how are consumer interests represented?

You Said

We had 23 formal responses to the consultation, which we have published where we have permission to do so. Submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response can be viewed at the bottom of this page.

In general, repsonses to the request for information were based on opinion or experience rather than evidence. The main points can be summarised as follows:

  • Agreement that the current capacity declaration process works well at Heathrow, where various parties are aligned in improving performance as opposed to being able to increase flights (8 responses)
  • Capacity/airspace decisions should take account of more information from more/all airports (7 responses)
  • The need for UK airspace modernisation and improvements in Europe (7 responses)
  • Mixed views about the declaration process at Gatwick (5 positive responses Vs 5 negative)
  • Call for the effect on residents to be taking into account (3 responses)
  • Ground-handler market is not working - they are under-resourced (2 responses)
  • Mixed views on greater transparency of information (some agreed in principle, some that issues are too complex for consumers to find useful)
  • Other themes around airports' market power, incumbent airlines' incentives to protect their interests, and the use of regional and GA airports.

We Did

Some of the issues raised in response to this consultation are being addressed by other areas of our work, or are down to purely commercial decisions, such as the distribution of commercial and general aviation traffic at airports.

However, we also believe that further investigation is merited into planning, scheduling and operational processes and that there are opportunities for consistency and better cross-industry collaboration.

There are currently no collective rights and responsibilities concerning resilience in the aviation system, potentially leading to inefficient outcomes for industry and consumers. Indeed, there are many complexities, such that it may be difficult for a single entity to guarantee improvements to its own operation, even where it chooses to spend more money on resilience.

The CAA believes that in the period up to and following the provision of new runway capacity in the South East, action needs to be taken to mitigate the risks to consumers arising from a lack of resilience which we have highlighted in this report. 

Given resilience problems are likely to require collective cross-industry action to resolve, in early 2017, the CAA decided to test industry appetite for forming a voluntary group to consider how best to tackle these issues. In April 2017 a group of airports and airlines based in the congested South East of the UK, along with NATS, ACL and the CAA formed the Voluntary Industry Resilience Group (VIRG) to pool their expertise and recommend actions (for industry itself or the Government, as part of its review of Aviation Strategy) to address current and future resilience issues. 

Notwithstanding the recommendations of the VIRG, there are still opportunities for the CAA to consider or formalise resilience issues through the appropriate airport economic licence process.  However, CAA regulation may not be the most appropriate mechanism, as for airports it only applies currently at Heathrow and Gatwick, and we can only introduce licence conditions at airports where we have deemed that they have sufficient market power to require a licence. 

The CAA could also consider NERL licence conditions to cover traffic prioritisation, airspace change, airport schedule oversight and staffing level resilience. Any such changes must be implemented through the appropriate licence process involving consultation with NERL and its stakeholders, and considered in the context of relevant European wide airspace targets.

Government intervention would take time, and there is an opportunity as a likely new aviation strategy and legal arrangements for a new runway are developed.  The CAA believes that the Government should consider options for structural reform as it develops its aviation strategy. In particular what beneficial changes (if any) could be made to the airport capacity declaration responsibilities (or oversight) or to the UK slot legislation, and the potential benefits of a network system manager who could plan, co-ordinate and make decisions to improve resilience.

The CAA also intends to review its information duties and punctuality statistics reporting during 2017 and could take the opportunity to introduce new or modified measures that better capture resilience or the factors which affect it.

Published responses

Submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response are available below. Submitted responses with consent given which were provided to the CAA as documents are published on our website.

Our consultation response document, CAP 1515 - Operating resilience of the UK's aviation infrastructure and the consumer interest, can be viewed on our website.


We Asked

The purpose of this consultation was for the CAA to learn your views on some changes we are considering making to our airspace change decision-making process.

Our objective is to ensure that it meets modern standards for regulatory decision-making, and that it is seen as fair, transparent, consistent and proportionate. The process should be impartial and evidence-based, and should take proper account of the needs and interests of all affected stakeholders.

You Said

We had 110 formal responses to the consultation, which we have published, where we have permission to do so. On the whole, stakeholders were supportive of the proposed new process.

In the ‘closed’ (yes or no) questions we found overwhelming support for the introduction of gateways into the process; engagement on design principles; the options appraisal concept; a single online portal; and the publication of consultation responses online. In addition there was broad support for the publication of airspace change submissions as early as possible, and for the Public Evidence Session.

In the ‘open’ (free text) responses we found there were overwhelmingly positive sentiments about the potential improvements to transparency; engagement (such as the introduction of the design principles stage, although there were also cautions about getting it right in practice) and certainty (such as the introduction of gateways). In addition, there were broadly positive sentiments about the potential improvements to fairness and proportionality (while the majority of sentiments were positive, there were significant numbers raising concern). 

There were however areas of concern or disagreement. Two thirds of those responding, across all categories of respondent, were opposed to responses to an airspace change consultation being made solely through the online portal. We noted some negative sentiments about flexibility and scalability. There were also differences of opinion between stakeholders on certain topics, including independent third-party involvement, appeals, and whether increasing costs were proportionate. We identified and categorised 363 recommendations as to how we could further improve the process.

We Did

We are maintaining, for the most part, the process proposed by our consultation, but with some modifications. We will now draft revised guidance on the new process, on which we will consult in spring 2017.

Some changes remain dependent on greater policy clarity from the Government, but the main outcomes are:

  • Fourteen-step process based on the existing process, with gateway sign-offs by the CAA to improve certainty
  • Single bespoke website forming an airspace change portal for anyone to view, comment on and access documents for every airspace change proposal, with offline submissions also accepted for the time being
  •  Airspace change sponsor early engagement with stakeholders on design principles
  • Formal options appraisal for each proposal where the sponsor shows how it has assessed the impacts of different designs at three stages in the process, building in detail as the number of options decreases
  • Recommended use by sponsor of an independent third-party facilitator to make early engagement with stakeholders on design principles more effective, and potentially also for formal consultation
  • Publication of airspace change consultation responses online as they are received
  • Categorising airspace change proposals by ‘Level’ according to the scale of the potential noise impact, to keep the process proportionate – including Level M for some military changes
  • Use of a standard template for formal submission of an airspace change proposal
  • Publication of final airspace change proposal on receipt, or as soon as possible thereafter  
  • Public Evidence Session for some changes with greater impact (‘Level 1’) allowing stakeholders to address the CAA decision-maker once a proposal has been submitted
  • Publication of a ‘minded to’ decision for public review for changes on which we believe there could be a risk of misinterpretation or misunderstanding of some of the evidence
  • CAA timescale commitments for gateway sign-offs and final decision
  • No formal appeal against a CAA decision
  • Clearer timescales and objectives for the Post-Implementation Review
  • No Oversight Committee
  • CAA recovery of additional costs through the en-route unit rate from 2020, and until then through a statutory charge on NERL and airports
  • New process implementation date not before August 2017
  • The immediate introduction of two procedural improvements, in the form of an Airspace Change Process Information Pack including a Regulatory Decision Template.

See also:

We Asked

Whether NERL should be required to produce detailed technology and airspace programmes for the remainder of RP2 by 31 March 2017 and an outline technology programme and airspace proposals for RP3 by 30 June 2018.

We also asked whether we should have the ability to appoint an Independent Reviewer to review the accuracy of NERL’s reporting on its technology and airspace programmes.

You Said

You largely supported our proposals, although some of you commented on the detail. Some wanted the proposals amended to remove the ability of us and NERL to bilaterally agree later dates for the programmes and options, and some of you wanted additional requirements on NERL to report on noise and, possibly, air quality as well.
You largely supported our proposal to appoint an independent reviewer. Although one of you did not have enough understanding of the proposal to support it. NERL said it would engage constructively and positively with an Independent Reviewer.

We Did

We modified NERL’s licence as proposed, but clarified that we would not agree later dates with NERL unless there were compelling reasons for reasons for doing so. In particular, we would not agree to later dates without first taking views from users. We considered that robust reporting on noise was important , but thought that this Licence modification, on the development of and reporting on airspace and technology programmes, was not the appropriate mechanism to introduce noise performance indicators.

We modified the licence to allow us to appoint an Independent Reviewer. As this is the first time that such a role has been envisaged in ATM, we said we would take a proportionate approach as all parties learn how such a role can add value to oversight of capital programme delivery. We said we intended to appoint the Reviewer initially for a one year period.