• June 25, 2015


We reported on enquiries we were making recently about the UK Aiprox Board which is the body that monitors near-miss incidents involving aircraft both civil and military across UK air space. With thousands of aircraft movements over UK airspace it has a vital safety function. A lot of near miss incidents involve military aircraft using training areas over the Celtic countries ( Scotland and Wales in particular) so it’s major area of interest to the League.

We wanted to know what oversight there is of its work and how much clout it has. We wrote to both the UK Department of Transport (DOT) and the Ministry of Defence. The DOT Under Secretary of State, Robert Goodwill, MP, has responded personally, and very promptly, and we are extremely grateful for this. A section of his letter is set out below:

“The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) was founded in the late 1980s with the merger of separate bodies dealing with ‘near miss’ aircraft incidents by controllers and pilots. The Boards primary objective is to enhance air safety in the UK , in particular in respect of lessons to be learned and applied from Airprox occurrences reported within UK airspace.

To emphasise both the scope of its work and its independence, UKAB is sponsored jointly, and funded equally by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the UK Military Aviation Authority (MAA). The Director of the UKAB also reports direct to the CEO of the CAA and the Director General of the MAA and it would be for these two organisations to consider any recommendations made by the Board. There is therefore no direct Department of Transport funding of the UKAB or oversight of its work. However as sponsoring department for the CAA we would be responsible for answering, for example any parliamentary questions relating to the work of the UKAB if it related to civil aircraft.

As you may know, the sole objective of the UK Airprox Board is to assess reported Airprox in the interests of enhancing safety. It is not the purpose of the Board to apportion blame or liability. To encourage an open and honest reporting environment, name of companies and individuals are not published in UKABs reports”

(His letter goes on to indicate some website links).

It seems extraordinary that in an area as safety critical as this the UKAB can only make ‘recommendations’. It also seems strange that ‘open and honest reporting’ from those certified to fly and control aircraft across the skies of the UK can only be guaranteed if attended by anonymity.

However what seems must peculiar is that no government Department (DOT or MOD) has a remit to audit the vitally important work undertaken to enhance safety by the UKAB. After all there are many other independent bodies in the UK for which oversight is taken as a given.

As indicated we are grateful for the response from the Under Secretary of State it does however raise more questions than it answers.

Related links;

MOD and DOT Aviation Safety Queries
RAF Hawk Training in Focus After Near Misses
More Pressing Danger as Gulls Get a Bad Press

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League was established in 1961 and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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