HAA CHAIRMAN SPEAKS OUT ON SAFETY
FROM THE 2016 SYMPOSIUM
In the past the Symposium has been an opportunity to say a few brief words on events of the year past and give attendees some indication of the direction the HAA is going.
Membership numbers remain steady but the Association still does not reach out to the larger community of historic aircraft owners, operators and maintainers that make up this historic aircraft community. The HAA Council have been deliberating over the reasons why this is so and trying to analyse issues that concern our community and decide what the HAA can do for the community that would encourage others to take up membership and support each other. For example from the new displays on show at the Symposium the HAA reminded the community of why there is an Association.
The HAA works to promote and protect the interests of those involved with historic aircraft whether it is their livelihood or are just trying to enjoy the continuing flight of our heritage aircraft. The HAA is also in the process of modernizing its website to make it more interactive, and enable members and the wider community to get more out of it. The HAA will continue to organize “behind the scenes” visits for members and Council now has a new member devoted to that task. The Newsletter is being looked at carefully to see if we cannot perhaps join forces with say the AOPA magazine and thereby widen our readership. The HAA Council are also looking at schemes to enhance membership through special offers, access to historic aircraft centres and so on.
It is recognised that for many years the HAA had become a moribund organisation with low membership numbers and little interest from those wealthy philanthropic owners of warbirds and exotic heritage aircraft to be members.
Years ago the HAA had a reason to exist through the push to improve airshow and historic aircraft display safety. Since the eighties that responsibility for safety became the province of the CAA to the extent that most aviators have came to rely on the CAA for almost everything to do with safety. Regrettably that approach has not been so successful; and the historic aircraft community has continued to have flying accidents year-on-year. Luckily since 1952 the accidents in this country have seldom involved the crowds attending airshows nor onlookers outside the airfield show area, – until last year when Shoreham happened.
Today big questions are being asked about whether the CAA got it right, and why wasn’t the historic aircraft community doing better at preventing these accidents. These sorts of questions are being put before the CAA and the historic aircraft community by the Air Accident Investigations Branch and Members of Parliament.
In September 2016 the HAA SAM Working Group made presentation to prominent parliamentary aviators including Grant Shapps, Byron Davies and Sir Gerald Howarth. Those MP’s have since presented the situation to the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling who took immediate action to appoint John Hayes as the Commons Minister responsible for General Aviation with a brief to review the work of the CAA and in particular the progress of SAM and delegation of responsibilities to the historic aircraft community. It is expected that more will be heard of John Hayes work in the New Year.
On the 24th October the HAA was invited by the AAIB to make presentation on the Self-Administration proposal that is still sitting on the CAA desk right now. The AAIB wanted to know why it had taken so long for the CAA to accept SAM and grant a delegation since our Risk-Based Safety Management System was a proven system and accepted elsewhere in the world. The answer the HAA has been given by the CAA to this question is that the outcome of the AAIB report on the Hunter accident at Shoreham and the Coroner’s findings at the inquiry set to re-open next year will have a bearing on future regulation and oversight. The CAA are reluctant to do anything until after these processes are complete.
The Association’s task is to continue to work on SAM within the limited resources available and do the best it can to persuade the CAA and the community that this system is for the benefit of all and can provide improvements in efficiency, safety, and reduced costs.
At the same time the HAA must continue to work within the framework of regulation and administrative oversight that exists – as provided by the CAA – to go on trying to improve the aviation environment and, enable airshows to survive and thrive once more.
The HAA continues to work with its colleagues in the British Air Display Association who are holding their 2 day conference 3/4 November. The HAA continues to work with the General Aviation Safety Council and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association to obtain conditions and sensible regulation that will encourage and allow owners and operators to fly their historic aircraft.
It is a fact that the current CAA rules and regulations are stifling our community and resulted in a reduction of airshows and historic flying activity during 2016 – except perhaps in one notable area. The HAA was pleased that the CAA used our suggestions for passenger flights in historic aircraft under conditions of safety and consent. The HAA SAM Adventure Flight proposals were adapted by the CAA into the dispensations granted to AOC holders under the Safety Standards Acknowledgement and Consent scheme (SSAC). The CAA used the HAA Adventure Flight proposals almost word for word. This has meant that a few 2 seat Spitfires are flying passengers under the CAA scheme, and not only are the public able to buy a ride in a Spitfire but historic aircraft pilots are getting more flying practice to maintain currency. The latter is a safety plus! If our proposed scheme for Adventure Flights had been accepted by now then many more operators would have been benefiting from flying passengers. But the CAA still want to maintain their control.
The HAA will continue to do what it can for the historic aircraft community. This will be not only within the context of existing conditions that we are having to deal with today, but with the continuing ambition to achieve better conditions through the delegated authority sought from the CAA to run the administration and oversight under Self-Administration.
O W (Wally) Epton FRAeS
Chairman – HAA
Symposium October 2016