Red Tape Challenge asks General Aviation sector which regulations it wants removed

Along with the other sectors for which this government is keen to reduce red tape and bureaucracy is general aviation (ie. small airfields and  aerodromes, not commercial planes). The government is now asking everyone involved in the sector –  to submit their comments on which regulations could be removed. The government wants the sector to be able to thrive and make money, with less regulation and  bureaucracy.  Grant Shapps said: A flourishing aviation sector is vital to Britain winning the global race and that includes general aviation as well as the large commercial operators. ……. We want to help generate jobs and prosperity ……..let us know how we can help you to succeed.”  It seems from some of the comments on the website that many users of light aircraft would like less regulation in terms of when the airfields close for the night, which is likely to be unpopular with those living near GA airfields.


What is General Aviation (GA)?

The term GA does not have the same meaning throughout the world, nor even within
countries. Many consider it to mean, “all aviation activity except that performed by
major airlines and the armed services”. Some find it helpful to recognise that all
operations below a particular weight/mass threshold (eg 5,700 kgs for aeroplanes)
share much in common, irrespective of the purpose of flight.

….  GA is considered to mean a civil aircraft operation other than a CAT (Commercial Air Transport) operation.  (CAA link )


More on the Red Tape Challenge, and its General Aviation Theme

General Aviation Red Tape Challenge


11 April 2013
Minister:   The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
New opportunity for pilots, mechanics, airfields, training organisations and small aviation firms to cut red tape.
Minister without Portfolio, Grant Shapps is today calling on the General Aviation sector to tell the government how it can make their lives easier by cleaning up regulations and removing red tape.
The government launched its Aviation Red Tape Challenge last year, looking at regulations that affect the sector – more than half of which will now be scrapped or improved.
It now wants to go further and look in more detail at the problems that affect SMEs and people in the general aviation sector. As of today, anyone with an interest in general aviation has the opportunity to share their views on the regulatory issues that affect them and use their experience to tell the government how it can make things better.
Minister without portfolio Grant Shapps said:
A flourishing aviation sector is vital to Britain winning the global race and that includes general aviation as well as the large commercial operators. That’s why today we are launching the General Aviation Red Tape Challenge specifically aimed at the smaller operators and businesses for whom regulatory issues can be frustrating and restrictive.
We want to help generate jobs and prosperity so I hope everyone in the sector from pilots to mechanics to training organisations to airfield owners take part in this challenge and let us know how we can help you to succeed.
The Red Tape Challenge is a cross-government programme to tackle unnecessary, over- complicated regulation. The default is that regulation should go unless it can be well defended (such as on safety grounds). Even where it stays we aim to reduce burdens in its implementation.
Charles Henry, Chairman of the General Aviation Awareness Council, said:
I fully endorse this initiative and urge all involved in the Industry to identify those rules and regulations that do nothing to enhance the safety of general aviation but add unnecessary cost. All pilots and engineers should respond to this unique opportunity and help UK GA regain its reputation for having the finest pilot training and highly skilled engineers in the world.
Anyone who wants to participate should log onto to the Red Tape Challenge site or send a private contribution to

Notes to editors

  1. The government’s Aviation Policy Framework notes the economic value of the General Aviation Sector as £1.4 billion per annum.
  2. The sector delivers vital services, including search and rescue, mail delivery, life-saving (organ) transport, law enforcement, aerial survey and environmental protection flights, as well as underpinning the training of future pilots, ground-based aircraft engineers and technicians. The sector also covers a wide range of activities, from corporate business jets and commercial helicopter operations through to recreational flying in small private aircraft, including gliders. A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)-initiated and chaired strategic review of the sector has acknowledged its growing economic importance, particularly for the British and European manufacturing industry.
  3. The CAA’s Strategic Review of General Aviation cites an estimate 11,600 people employed in the general aviation sector.
  4. The Red Tape Challenge was launched by the Prime Minister in April 2011. It gives business and the public the chance to have their say, by theme, on the regulations that affect their everyday lives.
  5. Every few weeks regulations are published relating to a specific sector – as well as general regulations that relate to all sectors, such as those on equality or health and safety. Results of Red Tape Challenge so far include:
    • a radical package of employment tribunal reforms, expected to deliver £40 million of savings per year to employers. The qualifying period for unfair dismissal has increased from 1 to 2 years.
    • since October 2012, deregulation of many live music performances and scrapped regulations dictating location and design of ‘No Smoking’ signs.
    • planned reforms to environmental regulation to save business at least £1 billion over 5 years, while keeping important protections. This includes reducing burdensome bureaucracy with the 23.5 million paper Waste Transfer Notes currently produced in the UK each year.
  6. Around 6,500 regulations will undergo Red Tape Challenge scrutiny. At least 3,000 of these will be scrapped or reduced, and 1,500 of these will have a financial benefit to business.
  7. The Aviation theme of the Red Tape Challenge was open for public comment between June-July 2012, with 83 live regulations in scope of the theme. 58% of these will be scrapped or improved and reforms include a major review of the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing scheme to ensure it provides more effective protection in the holiday market, and further work to examine the deregulatory benefits of reforming the Air Navigation Order.
  8. Full results of the Aviation Red Tape Challenge will be published on the Department for Transport and Red Tape Challenge websites soon.
  9. The general Aviation theme will be more open and rather than be presented with a list of specific regulations, participants will be able to comment on issues faced in the following themes:
    • general aviation pilots
    • general aviation airfields
    • maintenance
    • Civil Aviation Authority
    • airspace management
    • training and instruction
    • historic aircraft
    • innovation




On its General Aviation Theme the Red Tape Challenge website says:


General Aviation Airfields

In this topic we are seeking views on any regulations that affect airfields. While recognising that some broader issues, such as planning, will be relevant and worthy of note, we are primarily interested in the regulation and licensing of airfield operations.

Tell us what regulatory issues should be addressed and why, giving specific examples where possible:

  • Are there particular regulations relating to General Aviation which could be improved, scrapped or replaced with a non-regulatory alternative (e.g. through a voluntary code)? How?
  • Could guidance relating to General Aviation regulations be clarified, simplified, or otherwise improved? How?
  • Could administrative processes be made less burdensome? How?
  • Could the impact of EU/international General Aviation regulation be improved? How?
  • Can we make enforcement of General Aviation regulations less burdensome? How?
  • Are there any other regulatory issues relating to General Aviation you would like to see addressed?

Go back to the General Aviation Theme landing page by clicking here.



Comments under it include:

It is very difficult to use general aviation for work because most smaller airfields have restrictive opening hours (9am-6pm usually). We need the CAA to allow pilot operated lighting so that pilots can land outside hours. We also need the CAA to alllow GPS approaches at airfields without full ATC because most airfields cannot afford full ATC. In the US they have demonstrated that both GPS without ATC and pilot operated lighting are safe. The over regulation of airfields by the CAA is materially impacting demand for general aviation in my view.




As stated by other correspondents, why do we not allow pilot-operated lighting in the UK? For all the debate over the safety of SEP Night Flying, this would be a huge safety benefit in winter months.

The issue of airfield “opening hours” is something that is not always clear in the UK either. Does this mean no fire-cover, no licensing, local noise concerns, planning or other admin reasons?


Many smaller airfields close at 6 pm or earlier in the winter and switch off the runway lighting. The airfield therefore cannot be used later except by special (and costly) arrangements to have someone present to switch on the lights.

In the USA, airfields equipped with runway lights can have these switched on automatically by an arriving aircraft, by calling on the airfield radio frequency. No personnel have to be present. There is no technical reason why this cannot be done in the UK. Such a capability would extend the useful hours of such smaller airfields, as well as providing a wider range of alternate airfields in case of weather diversions or delayed arrivals, thereby increasing safety as well.

The CAA apparently does not allow remote switching of the lights by arriving aircraft. Reconsideration of this prohibition could be very useful.


many airfields in the UK have “opening and closing” hours and requirements for Prior Permission to land, I dont know if this is because of a UK law, or just historic. In many other countries, such as USA, Canada and even France, airfields are always open, unless there is a Notam to say they are closed. You just turn up and land, look at the windsock to see which runway is best to land on or maybe talk on the radio if you have one and there is someone there, but there is no requirement for any “permission”. The UK law should be changed to allow what is done in the USA.


Airfields provide an important resource not only for leisure aviation but also pilot training for airlines, engineering and catering employment, many charitable events and fund raising. The biggest increased threat was to remove the greenfield status of airfields. Airfields provide an open space with many habitat opportunities which are still compatible with flying. Airfields also support business and tourist travel supporting the economy. A final issue is the lack of coordination when considering the impact of wind farms near to airfields and the safety concerns which only seem to be considered at the last minute.


and others ……………