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Civil Aviation Act 2012

Reform to the legislative framework of the CAA

18.The House of Commons Transport Committee report The Work of the Civil Aviation Authority also recommended that the DfT should carry out a fundamental review of the CAA itself. In 2007 the Government commissioned Sir Joseph Pilling to conduct an independent strategic review. The report was published in June 2008(6). His recommendations have informed some of the CAA reform measures contained in the Act. Some of his governance recommendations have been implemented without the need for legislation, for example the creation of a separate Chair and Chief Executive for the CAA. Others required legislation and the Act makes a number of changes to the CAA’s legislative framework as follows:

CAA membership

19.Previously, the Secretary of State appointed all the members of the CAA’s board and, with Treasury consent, determined their remuneration. Sir Joseph Pilling, in his 2008 Report recommended that modernising the CAA’s governance structure would help the CAA to maintain its general standing and record of success. Another recommendation was that the CAA board should be allowed to appoint its own executive directors and determine their remuneration packages. The Act contains provisions that make this change.

Civil sanctions

20.The Act enables the CAA to make use of alternative civil sanctions alongside existing criminal penalties.

CAA’s charging schemes

21.The CAA’s charging schemes are the mechanism by which it recovers its regulatory costs from industry. These normally come into force on 1 April each year following consultation with the Secretary of State. Under the Civil Aviation Act 1982, (the “CAA 1982”) the CAA is required to allow a minimum of 60 days between publication of its proposed charges and those charges coming into force. The Act introduces a statutory obligation on the CAA to consult charge-payers and reduces the 60-day notice period to 14 days.

Criminal proceedings

22.The CAA previously investigated and prosecuted aviation-related offences on behalf of the Crown, pursuant to arrangements to provide assistance to the Secretary of State under section 16 of the CAA 1982. The Act makes express provision for the CAA to institute criminal proceedings as part of its enforcement function under section 20 of the CAA 1982 to ensure that costs associated with carrying out enforcement work, including prosecutions, will be recoverable from the industry under the new charging scheme arrangements rather than from the taxpayer, as was the case under previous arrangements.

Information, guidance and advice

23.The Act contains provision creating a new duty for the CAA to publish or arrange for the aviation sector to publish such information and advice as the CAA considers appropriate: (i) to assist users (passengers or owners of cargo), including potential users of air transport services, to compare services and make more informed choices; and (ii) to inform the public about the environmental effects (including emissions and noise) of civil aviation in the UK and measures taken to limit the adverse environmental effects. The CAA may also publish best practice guidance and advice for the aviation sector aimed at either improving service standards for users or limiting the adverse environmental effects of civil aviation in the UK. The CAA must consult on its policy for carrying out these new functions and have regard to the principle that the benefits of carrying out the functions should outweigh any adverse effects.

Disclosure of medical information

24.The CAA receives medical information relating to flight crew and air traffic controllers in the course of licensing those persons to perform their air navigation roles. It is currently prohibited from disclosing that information unless at least one of a number of conditions is met, for example the consent of the person to whom the information relates has been obtained. Following a recommendation of the House of Lords Committee on Science and Technology in 2007 (H L Paper 7, December 20077) and Government response (H L Paper 105, May 20088), the Act will permit the CAA to disclose medical information, in anonymised form, for medical research purposes.

Regulation of the provision of flight accommodation

25.The Act amends the Secretary of State’s existing powers to regulate the provision of flight accommodation, which is the basis of the Air Travel Organiser’ Licensing (ATOL) scheme run by the CAA. The scheme protects passengers purchasing seats on flights, mainly where these form part of a package holiday or a ‘Flight-Plus’ holiday, in the event of the insolvency of a package tour operator or travel agent. The DfT consulted on the proposals to reform the ATOL scheme in summer 2011(9), including broadening the scope of the Secretary of State’s regulation-making powers to allow the scheme to better reflect the way in which holidays including a flight are now sold and arranged. Following from this, section 71 of the CAA 1982, as amended by section 94 of the Act, allows the Secretary of State to make regulations to require ATOL licences to be held by (i) airlines for the sale of holidays including a flight (ii) businesses procuring holidays including a flight on an “agent for the consumer” basis and (iii) businesses that facilitate making available flight accommodation. It also provides the Secretary of State with powers to make regulations imposing obligations on ATOL licence holders and giving consumers a right of action in the courts in relation to contraventions of those obligations.

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