UK review of its CAA might benefit from 1997 Gore Commission Report

Gore Report cover
Share this article: FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

UK starts review of its CAA

Is it effective, efficient accountable and well-governed?

Vice President Gore 25 years ago led a similar exercise with some useful lessons

The UK¹ Transport Secretary Grant Shapps just announced that he was initiating an independent review of his country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) . His charge to this commission includes:

  • Evaluation of this agency’s effectiveness, efficiency, , accountability and governance


  • A forward-looking determination of whether it does provide world-class service to the public and aviation industry plus how it might improve in its performance here.

For those of a certain age and a memory back 25 years ago, this UK review of the CAA resembles the Vice President Gore’s  White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. President Clinton asked these specific questions:

  • to look at the changing security threat, and how we can address it;
  • )to examine changes in the aviation industry,
  • how government should adapt its regulation of it; to look at the technological changes coming to air traffic control, and what should be done to take best advantage of them. 

1997 was the year in which TWA 800 exploded and crashed into the Long Island Sound. That tragedy was initially attributed to terrorism and created a national focus on terrorism/airport security. Consequently, the Gore Review looked primarily at those issues. The air traffic inquiry made recommendations to address the technological deficiencies then extant.

CAA Issue #2, however, has some bearing on the 2022-2023 UK Ministry for Transport. The recommendations (extracted from the lengthy report) have been remarkably prescient. Here are a few of the Gore Commission’s proposal—

  1. “Primary among these recommendations is the call for greater use of partnerships in meeting goals…
  2. “The premise behind these partnerships is that government can set goals, and then work with industry in the most effective way to achieve them. Partnership does not mean that government gives up its authorities or responsibilities
  3. “standards for continuous safety improvement, and should target its regulatory resources based on performance against those standards.
  4. “FAA’s certification standards and processes have not kept up with the changing needs of civil aviation..
  5. The rarity of accidents can make it difficult to justify safety and security improvements under benefit cost criteria applied to regulatory activities. Nevertheless, benefit cost analysis can enlighten the regulatory decisionmaking process…. Cost considerations and mathematical formulas, however, should never be dispositive in making policy determinations regarding aviation safety they are one input for decisionmaking. Further, non-quantifiable safety and security benefits should be included in the analysis of proposals.

Twenty five years ago, these SAFETY recommendations were overshadowed by the security and air traffic findings. In retrospect, the above five recommendations are now found in SMS’s heavy reliance on data and computer computation, SMS also benefits from domestic and global sharing of best practices, the revised Part 23 which left the historical PRESCRIPTIVE criteria to the current certification rubric based on PERFORMANCE.  The 5th point has yet to be moved from a suggestion into an OMB practice.

Jeremy Newman, leader of the 2022-2023 CAA review, you might want to get a copy of Mr. Gore’s study

UKL CAA Jeremy Newman










¹/ JDA joins the world in mourning the death of England’s Queen.




UK CAA and Ministry for Transport

Government launches review of Civil Aviation Authority to strengthen regulator for the future

An independent review of the CAA will ensure the provision of world-leading civil aviation regulation and public services for decades to come.


Department for TransportCivil Aviation Authority, and The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP


  • august 2022

The government on 30 August 2022  has launched an independent review of the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ensure the provision of world-leading regulation and public services for decades to come.

With a remit that includes everything from

ensuring the highest standards of aviation safety and security,

to the efficient use of airspace,

space operations

and protecting consumer rights,

the Civil Aviation Authority is vital to the UK’s position as a world leader in aviation and aerospace.

Building on the organization’s success in tackling the unprecedented challenges of recent years, the review will focus on:

  • its efficiency and effectiveness in delivering its services currently, and for the future
  • its role, form, function and delivery model
  • the corporate governance and assurance mechanisms underpinning the organisation
  • the CAA’s relationship with the Department for Transport and how the 2 organisations work together to deliver a quality service for the UK
  • how its priorities match up to the government’s wider objectives, taking into consideration its role as an independent regulator

CAA headquarters






  • A shift away from prescriptive regulations will allow companies to take advantage of incentives and reach goals more quickly.
  • reengineering of the CAA’s regulatory and certification processes;
  • greater focus on human factors and training;
  • the faster introduction of proven new technologies

This year the regulator celebrated its 50th birthday and has played a key role in the aviation sector’s recovery, as set out in our 22-point action plan to help minimise disruption in the sector and protect passengers.

For years to come the regulator will also be crucial in ensuring the sector can modernise and innovate to meet the challenges of the future, while protecting consumer rights  – as set out in our 10-year[1] Flight path to the future strategy Flightpath to the future.

MfT Grant ShappsTransport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

Civil aviation regulation is the lynchpin of an industry which pre-pandemic carried millions of passengers every year, contributed £22 billion to our economy and supported nearly one million jobs.

This review will ensure UK civil aviation regulation continues to be world-leading on safety, security, environmental considerations, economic regulation and consumer protection – which often supports other countries in driving up global standards.






Sir Stephen Hillier, Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority, said:Sir Stephen Hillier, Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority,



“At the Civil Aviation Authority, we work tirelessly on our mission to achieve improvements in aviation and aerospace for consumers and the public.

We welcome the opportunity this review presents to highlight the dedication, skill and continuous learning culture of our organisation, whilst identifying any areas for improvement.

It will help ensure that we continue to be a diverse, innovative and future-focused regulator, dedicated to improving aviation safety, security and consumer interests and enabling a thriving aerospace sector.

We look forward to working in an open, transparent and collaborative way with government to support this review.

The review forms part of a wider programme looking at public bodies across government, announced in April this year.

It comes at a crucial time for the aviation industry as it continues its strong recovery from the pandemic and will also run in parallel, but entirely separate to, the International Civil Aviation Organisation safety audit due to take place.

an independent panel member at the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, will lead the review, which will run until spring 2023.

[1] Enhancing global impact for a sustainable recovery  1. Recover and sustainably grow the sector  2. Enhance the UK’s global aviation impact and leadership  3. Support growth in airport capacity where it is justified, ensuring that capacity is used in a way that delivers for the UK  Embracing innovation for a sustainable future  4. Put the sector on course to achieve Jet Zero  5. Capture the potential of new technology and its uses  Realising benefits for the UK  6. Unlock local benefits and level up  7. Unleash the potential of the next generation of aviation professionals 8. Make the UK the best place in the world for General Aviation Delivering for users 9. Improve the consumer experience 10. Retain our world-leading record on security and safety

In Memoriam


Share this article: FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Be the first to comment on "UK review of its CAA might benefit from 1997 Gore Commission Report"

Leave a comment