State­ments made by CAA CEO were false and ‘bla­tant pol­i­tick­ing’ says Bri­tish Air Dis­play As­so­ci­a­tion

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‘The as­ser­tion by the CAA’S Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, An­drew Haines, re­ported in the Times [on 3 March], that there has been re­sis­tance in the air dis­play com­mu­nity to the changes be­ing pro­posed is fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect,’ said the Bri­tish Air Dis­play As­so­ci­a­tion (BADA) and Honourable Com­pany of Air Pi­lots in a ro­bustly-worded joint state­ment is­sued on 4 March. ‘Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.’

‘The en­tire air­show com­mu­nity has been fo­cussed on drilling into the core safety is­sues that stem from the Shore­ham tragedy to as­sess what changes can sen­si­bly be made to pre­vent a re­cur­rence,’ the state­ment con­tin­ues. ‘There has been great anx­i­ety about the mas­sive in­crease in charges, made with­out re­al­is­tic con­sul­ta­tion or with any mean­ing­ful im­pact as­sess­ment. To sug­gest, how­ever, that the air­show com­mu­nity has de­clined to ‘co-op­er­ate with re­forms such as rig­or­ous checks on pi­lots, new train­ing for or­gan­is­ers etc’ is com­pletely false.

‘That Mr Haines should com­pound this bla­tant piece of pol­i­tick­ing by a pub­lic body by say­ing that ‘the com­mu­nity seem to think that Shore­ham is a one-off and there­fore you can carry on as you are’ is to­tally in­ac­cu­rate, and a rep­re­hen­si­ble state­ment from the CEO of the CAA.’

BADA and the Honourable Com­pany ask if the reg­u­la­tor has failed to keep its own house in or­der: ‘be­fore Shore­ham, Mr Haines car­ried out cuts within the CAA bud­get such that many de­part­ments were un­able to ex­er­cise proper reg­u­la­tory man­age­ment of var­i­ous aspects of the avi­a­tion in­dus­try… The sys­tem was sus­tained only by the pro­fes­sional in­volve­ment of Dis­play Au­tho­ri­sa­tion Eval­u­a­tors from the air­show com­mu­nity, and by the pres­ence of a sound and well-framed reg­u­la­tory sys­tem evolved over many decades… As part of the hol­low­ing-out of the CAA, as late as mid 2015, Mr Haines was per­son­ally in­volved in try­ing to off­load the re­spon­si­bil­ity for air­show man­age­ment, with its as­so­ci­ated dereg­u­la­tion, to the Bri­tish Air Dis­play As­so­ci­a­tion. BADA de­clined, as [it] per­ceived this to be a ret­ro­grade step with re­gard to reg­u­la­tory over­sight and fun­da­men­tal safety.’ To­day, of course, the CAA is de­mand­ing in­creased fees to cover the cost of new em­ploy­ees, charged with over­see­ing air dis­plays.

The as­so­ci­a­tions feel their ex­pert in­put was ex­cluded from the CAA’S re­view of air dis­play safety; ‘it be­came ap­par­ent that, apart from a lit­tle win­dow dress­ing by in­volv­ing the in­clu­sion in the team of an Air Mar­shal, this was to be an in-house ex­er­cise with no in­volve­ment of the dis­play com­mu­nity at all’.

‘Mr Haines has cho­sen to de­flect crit­i­cism of him and the CAA by falsely ac­cus­ing the dis­play com­mu­nity of ob­du­rate be­hav­iour, which the pub­lic should be aware is com­pletely un­true. The CAA has yet to is­sue the full de­tails of the regulation changes even at this late hour, so dis­play or­gan­is­ers have no reg­u­la­tions with which they can refuse to com­ply…

‘Of course, post Shore­ham ev­ery­one needs to re­view how, if pos­si­ble, we can pre­vent the re­cur­rence of such a tragedy, but im­pos­ing dra­co­nian changes, with in­ad­e­quate con­sul­ta­tion, risks not only de­priv­ing the pub­lic of some­thing they en­joy but also de­priv­ing young peo­ple of an ex­pe­ri­ence which for so many has in­spired them to be­come avi­a­tors or aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neers, con­tribut­ing to one of the UK’S most suc­cess­ful, world-lead­ing in­dus­tries.

‘The in­tem­per­ate and ir­re­spon­si­ble ap­proach by the CAA sug­gests that th­ese rushed mea­sures are not driven so much by a de­sire to en­hance air show safety as to pre-empt any crit­i­cism of the CAA which might arise from forth­com­ing en­quiries. Ac­cord­ingly, we call upon Mr Haines to re­tract his crit­i­cism.’

For the full state­ment see:

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