Learn to Fly

How safe is recreational flying in the UK?

How safe is flying

How safe is the flying we private pilots do? That was the question that a new independent review commissioned and funded by the Department for Transport set out to answer last year – and the results of the work have now been published.

The answer is: acceptable.

The full review can be found in CAP1886, available here. Independent Chair of the review, Geoffrey Podger and co-author Tony Rapson, discuss it in a podcast here.

“Having completed our review we concluded that the current safety level of recreational GA in the UK is acceptable, viewed in terms of its unavoidably great risk than commercial aviation, the much higher risk acceptability of voluntary activities and compared with other high-risk activities,” said Tony.

“We anticipate the report will be used to aid the State Safety Board, chaired by the Department of Transport, to confirm there is an acceptable level of safety performance within the UK GA sector.”

The review also makes a number of other conclusions and comments:

  • Pilots should be encouraged and there should be an expectation that pilots will undertake periodic training throughout their flying careers, both through voluntary attendance at refresher or further development training sessions and through the current initiative to bring about, through guidance, a more structured approach to the requirement to fly every two years with an instructor
  • The CAA should continue to monitor safety trends and take appropriate action if the trend significantly increases, including the option of setting a compulsory requirement for further development training
  • Passengers in GA – non-commercial operations are participants in a recreational activity and can choose not to take part if they believe the risks to be unacceptable
  • The comparatively rare individual accidents that result in the death of non-involved third parties should continue to be investigated and responded to on an individual and specific basis as is currently the case.

Comments on the review or its conclusions, should be sent to [email protected] by 24 April 2020.



  • Brian Hunt says:

    The biggest concern for me is mid air collision, and reductions in GA airspace increase this risk.

  • tony ben says:

    dear Brian yes its been a worry, the CAA recommend 2 miles from a boundary
    in order to avoid infringements for example in the low level route its about 4 miles wide so if you practice that rule going north and someone else going south your going to be head on to each other and you only have 1200 feet to play in.

    Too much controlled airspace.

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