The Department for Transport (DfT) has today published the “Review of UK civil flying display and special event governance” which was commissioned by DfT and conducted by Helios. The review assessed the current governance arrangements for civil flying display safety to determine the form of governance that achieves the level of safety required by the DfT.

The full review can be downloaded from GOV.UK

The DfT has also published its response to the review:-

1. Following the Shoreham air show tragedy, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) within its Report on the accident to Hawker Hunter T7, G-BXFI, recommended

…that the Department for Transport commission, and report, the findings of an independent review of the governance of flying display activity in the United Kingdom to determine the form of governance that achieves the level of safety it requires.1

The Department for Transport (DfT) accepted this recommendation and contracted Helios to undertake the review.

2.  The review has not identified an alternative form of governance that would lead to further improvements in safety within UK flying display activity and noted that a transition towards greater self-governance is not an appropriate course of action to take. The review has made a number of recommendations to consider to enhance the existing governance structure.

3.  We have considered carefully the report’s findings and the conclusion that the current governance structure is considered to be effective and is instrumental in allowing us to conclude, as required by the AAIB’s recommendation, that the governance does achieve the level of safety required. This document sets out the Government’s response to the report’s recommendations.

Response to recommendations

4.  The review concluded that the CAA maintains a strong independence from industry within the governance structure, and so does not suffer regulatory capture. However, the CAA should be close enough to industry to understand the impact of its regulations and actions, whilst still retaining its independence. The review therefore recommends that:

The CAA should consider what additional feedback it can provide when assessing applications under CAP 403 and whether it can provide guidance or advice in its responses.

The government agrees that the CAA should maintain a balance between retaining its independence and understanding the impact of its regulations and actions.

5. The review concluded that there was good evidence of openness and transparency in the CAA, such as the greater engagement at the industry’s pre and post-season symposiums. However, the review suggests more can be done to promote openness and transparency and therefore recommends:

The CAA should establish a working group with membership including the CAA, the flying display community and any other relevant parties to investigate whether representative(s) from the industry could be involved in CAA investigations of reported incidents or other problems. The aim would be to give industry representatives visibility of CAA internal processes and add the benefit of their experience, although confidentiality and independence must be maintained.

The display industry should develop a proposal of its own to put in place or promote the use of a reporting process that is acceptable to the CAA but governed in a way that display community members are prepared to report all safety-related incidents and occurrences. This should be used to enhance safety across the industry. The process should allow the benefits of a safety management system to be available to all air display participants.

The government agrees that the CAA should be open and transparent and welcomes the CAA’s greater engagement with industry. The government is clear that the CAA should remain independent in the investigation of reported occurrences and will work with the CAA to build upon this greater engagement, to improve further openness and transparency without compromising independence.

6.  The review identifies uncertainty between stakeholders as to accountability of flying display risks and notes that, whilst the principles of CAP 403 (Flying Displays and Special Events: Safety and Administrative Requirements and Guidance) are valid, there is a variability in consistency of their interpretation. The review therefore recommends that:

The CAA should review CAP 403 to clarify risk responsibilities of the CAA, particularly in the area of the risk assessment, and also for each participant. Additionally, to ensure there is total clarity, it should be emphasised that compliance with CAP 403 does not provide indemnity to any stakeholder in the case of an incident.

The government has already discussed this recommendation with the CAA and both organisations agree that there should be clear principles in place and, given the report’s finding, these principles will be clarified and reflected as part of the CAA’s annual review of CAP 403.


7.  The government notes and concludes from the Helios review that the regulation of air displays has an effective governance structure, strong leadership and competence and gives no reason to doubt the integrity of any party involved in the regulatory system. The government will continue to support and work with the independent aviation safety regulator, the CAA, to maintain and improve aviation safety across all sectors.