Aviation Security: on final approach to UK CAA

by Peter Driscoll

I was very pleased to be invited by Philip Baum to contribute to Aviation Security International on the subject of the considerable changes taking place in how aviation security regulation and compliance monitoring are delivered and funded in the United Kingdom. Philip’s timing was very good: the transfer of these functions, and of the nearly 100 posts involved, from the Department for Transport to the Civil Aviation Authority is now on ‘final approach’, and thoughts are turning to what needs to happen next, after we have ‘landed’.

With the 1 April date for the formal transfer coming up quickly, I should first say how good it has been to find most in the industry positive about the potential advantages of bringing security and safety regulation together in a single organisation. My team and I are very much looking forward to getting over to our new home in the CAA’s Kingsway headquarters and beginning to identify the new efficiencies and synergies which I am confident this brigading will deliver. The industry’s advice and help will naturally be invaluable in all of that.

To first backtrack a little… I myself joined the CAA in May this year to take up the new role of Director Aviation Security, having spent the last five years as Director of Security in the Home Office. After more than 30 years in the RAF, focussed latterly on securing bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, I already had both aviation and security in my blood, and so joining the CAA feels like returning home.

The Transfer
The challenges presented by the transfer have been, and still are, considerable, but I am pleased to be able to report that we are well configured for a smooth ‘touch-down’ in April. In the first place this will be a ‘lift and shift’ operation, we hope invisible to users, with all business carrying on exactly as usual up to and beyond that date. So far as industry is concerned, nothing in terms of regulation or compliance monitoring will change from 31 March to 1 April.

We are moving, out of Government, business functions that have, of course, developed over time their own systems and processes, and will now need to be integrated into those of the CAA. There would be no value in aviation security being simply ‘bolted on’ to the CAA, as a separate activity. We are determined to make it a fully functioning, integral and respected part of the CAA – to which it will bring valuable expertise of its own. The benefits will flow both ways, we are sure.

One respect in which things will change from 1 April is of course the funding of these transferred functions – the cost of which equates to just less than 5 pence per passenger per journey – which will from that date be provided by industry, rather than by the taxpayer. One of the principal drivers for the move is the wider Government agenda of moving towards a ‘user pays’ regime, which this change will bring about.

 

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