New Costs & Safety Rules for Airshows In The U.K.
As a result of the Shoreham accident last year, airshow safety is being improved by Britain's Civilian Aviation Authority. The Air Accident Investigation Branch continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Hawker Hunter crash and aims to provide a full report early this year. It was the first time that a member of the public had died as a direct result of an air display in the UK since 1952.
The industry has cooperated fully with the investigation and its recommendations however, a detail in the most recent proposal seems to have absolutely nothing to do with improving safety but is instead focused on raising funds for the organization itself. At least one of the country's top events is speaking out and says the proposal could mean, "the demise of the British Air Show." (more on page 2)
New Safety Rules
Tony Rapson, Head of General Aviation at the U.K.'s Civilian Aviation Authority says, “After the tragic accident at Shoreham air show last summer, we began a thorough review examining every aspect of civil air display safety. Today we’re announcing a series of measures that will enhance the safety of UK airshows. In 2016, no airshow will go ahead without being subject to an enhanced risk assessment, and having to comply with tighter requirements for training, oversight and notification.”
Britain's Civilian Aviation Authority is enhancing:
• The requirements for permissions to hold a display and requiring earlier notification to the CAA
• Training and checks for those responsible for overseeing air displays
• Requirements relating to the experience, skill and health of display pilots; and
• The role of the Display Authorisation Examiners (DAEs)
The measures the CAA put in place in the immediate aftermath of the accident at Shoreham in August 2015 will stand until the investigation has concluded, at which point the authority says, "they will be reviewed alongside any findings or recommendations made." That means the grounding of all Hawker Hunter aircraft continues and ex-military jets operating over land are restricted to fly-pasts only and are not permitted to perform aerobatics.
In North America, John Cudahy, president of the International Council Of Airshows said, “Although there are some differences between British and U.S./Canadian air show guidance and regulations, the UK has some of the most robust and sophisticated air show safety requirements in the world. It’s hard to say from a distance whether or not the CAA’s recent changes will substantively reduce risk, but they certainly indicate that the appropriate people looked carefully at the circumstances surrounding last year’s accident at Shoreham and took steps to help mitigate some of the issues that might have been contributing factors to that tragedy.” He continued, “Our mutual goal – here, in the UK and around the world – is to reduce and eliminate fatal air show accidents. Air show professionals in the United States and Canada will be carefully monitoring the changes in Great Britain to see if there are tactics or changes they implement that might be helpful here in North America.”