Thoughts from the Chairman

The Strategic Review is under way and the Task Force comprising Cliff Spink, Dodge Bailey, Phil Hall, Phil O’Dell, Edwin Brenninkmeyer and Malcolm Ward have met twice and been hotly conferring in between.  Since suggesting that the time had come for the HAA to take a really good look at itself, and decide in which direction we should be going, I am delighted that the SRTF are sharing the same enthusiasm to re-shape this Association.  I have no idea what they will come up with, but I personally am hopeful that we can find ways of making the HAA more meaningful and effective for the owners of historic aircraft who put so much passion and money into their hobby.

In the meantime we have participated in the newly formed All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation led by MP’s Byron Davis and Grant Shapps and strongly supported by a number of other MP’s including that aviation stalwart Sir Gerald Howarth.  The launch meeting focussed on fighting for airfield survival and the need to get youth involved in aviation.  From my contact with Grant Shapps and the close liaison that Steve Crocker has with his MP, Byron Davis we know how energetic these 2 MP’s are about achieving change to the way things are being done in General Aviation.  We have briefed them on the advantages of delegating responsibility for safety and oversight to the historic aircraft community under SAM and they have embraced the system with enthusiasm.

Grant Shapps and Byron Davis appraised the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling of what we were trying to achieve with the CAA.  The Secretary of State has agreed to appoint a Commons Minister responsible for GA, and meanwhile we have met with the Transport Minister for Aviation Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon and briefed him on the work of the HAA and its aspirations for SAM. The outcome of the meeting was that Lord Ahmed directed the CAA to re-commence work on SAM after the publication of the AAIB report on Shoreham.  Originally the CAA GAU wanted to maintain an embargo on developing SAM with us until after the Coroner’s Enquiry into the accident had been closed.  As this might take years, Lord Ahmed asked the CAA and HAA not to wait but to get on with SAM as soon as possible.

Not everybody in the historic aircraft community can see the full advantages that SAM would bring, but you only have to look at the Australian Warbirds Limited website at:


and you will see how thriving the historic aircraft community is Down Under since moving over to SAM 10 years ago.  There is no longer a large GA department in the Australian CASA and the responsibility for airworthiness and operational approvals is now all dealt with by AWAL.  Safety has improved because now those in the historic aircraft community are responsible for safety and oversight.  It really does work, so those who argue that it could not work here, or they don’t want it to work here are living in the ‘old world’ of the ‘nanny state’ where government and the CAA does everything.

The big worry here in the UK is that our historic aircraft numbers are dwindling and none more so than historic jet aircraft; ex-military jets.  Hawker Hunters remain grounded because of the draconian decision made by the CAA, and with no signs yet of lifting this ban on flight.  The Vulcan has ceased to fly and the organisation is struggling financially all because of conditions imposed by a risk-averse CAA that made it difficult for them to get the mighty Vulcan in the first place, and now the VTTS find it impossible to meet.  Jet Provosts, Gnats, Meteors, Canberras, Vampires the Sea Vixen and so on are either sitting in the hangar awaiting restrictions to be lifted or have given up altogether and up for sale.  This is not a good scene and one that would not be happening if experts in this historic aircraft community were made responsible for safety and oversight together with responsibility for issuing approvals under SAM.  It is not complicated and it is not difficult to do as you will see on the AWAL website.

On the air show scene the future looks very depressing.  We share with BADA their concern over the risk-averse regulations that have been imposed on air displays and air shows.  The results already indicate air shows being cancelled and a dwindling industry.  We need to establish a risk-based safety management system that will re-enable air shows to flourish again safely.

The HAA Annual Meeting is almost upon us and if the SRTF have completed their review by the 19th March we may be in a position to see a new way forward.  I make no apologies for banging on about SAM because I see that being the solution to an historic aircraft association’s future.  Without a solid raison d’etre an association is ineffective.  The historic aircraft community will only survive if the owners who put their passion and their money into keeping this heritage alive and flying, are convinced that belonging to, and supporting a strong and meaningful association is where they should be.

I look forward to seeing you all on the 19th March at Old Warden for the AGM and Flying Forum.

Wally Epton
HAA Chairman