Ian Seager


With Ian Seager


Not everything in the CAA's garden smells of roses

Recent reviews of the UK Civil Aviation Authority as ‘world-leading’ are only looking at part of the story

A recent safety review of the UK CAA by ICAO found it to be ‘a world class regulator, recognised internationally as a world leader in aviation safety’, a view also supported by a recent independent review carried out as part of the Government’s Public Bodies Review programme.

Intoxicating praise indeed, so no surprise that the CAA’s DfT appointed CAA Chairman, Sir Stephen Hillier, commented “…I very much welcome the Review’s confirmation that we are a highly capable and internationally well-regarded aviation safety regulator…The Review has helpfully also identified areas where we can improve. We welcome those recommendations: we are a learning organisation and always looking continuously to improve.”

I’m sure there’s some truth in both reports, and that the CAA does a lot of good things, but I don’t think I have ever seen quite so much eye rolling or head shaking among fellow pilots.

Clearly there are more than just a few bits and pieces that need a little tweaking here and there. The CAA could do a lot worse than taking a good long look at the following responses (with thanks to Dave W).

It turns out that 69% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that the CAA seeks feedback to improve its performance, 72% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that the CAA seeks feedback to improve its customer service, and 73% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that the CAA acts upon customer feedback.

Or, more succinctly, a large majority of people think the CAA fails to look for feedback on performance or customer service, or that it actually does anything about it when it is forthcoming!

We have to hope that the CAA’s self-congratulatory glow does not worsen its inability to see itself as others do, to understand the real problems, and more importantly to get them fixed.

Having both a huge amount of work dumped on its desks now that we’ve left EASA, and a workforce that for the first time in its history is voting on industrial action, won’t make things easier, but if the CAA really does aspire to be world leading in everything it does, maybe start by acknowledging not only its successes, but by being honest about the mountains it has to climb too.

See also: Forum discussion


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