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Aviation Security

Volume 547: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2012

Today I am publishing a summary of responses to the Government’s consultation on better regulation for aviation security, and announcing the Government’s decision on taking forward the initiative.

The consultation document “Better Regulation for Aviation Security” ( set out proposals to modernise the regulatory regime for aviation security to bring it into line with better regulation principles, promote innovation and efficiency and ensure the best possible passenger experience. It proposed a move to an outcome focused risk based (OFRB) approach which would give operators the flexibility and responsibility to design security processes that deliver specified security outcomes, perhaps more focused towards the needs of their passengers, rather than requiring them, as at present, to comply with prescriptive security requirements. It builds on the successful and similar approach that now applies in aviation safety regulation.

The move to an OFRB approach would be managed through the introduction of a security management system (SeMS) developed and operated by each responsible organisation. A SeMS is an organised, systematic approach to managing security which embeds security management into the day-to-day activities of the organisation.

We will begin with a series of SeMS pilots, starting at London City airport once the Olympics have finished, in which industry operators will develop the SeMS approach and in so doing enhance their internal security cultures. The pilot at London City airport will be concerned only with the organisation and governance of security at the airport, not with the security checks themselves, which will continue to be managed and delivered in the current way.

Once these pilots have been concluded, and we are satisfied that the SeMS process is sufficiently robust and will deliver its intended benefits, we shall look to roll it out generally across the industry. This will provide a sound basis for the development and piloting of the OFRB approach.

The consultation ran from 14 July until 7 November 2011. Some 116 responses were received, from a range of organisations and individuals in the aviation industry as well as from interested bodies. I am grateful to them for the time they took in responding and for their informed and constructive comments.

I am pleased to say that there was overwhelming support for the proposed new approach. In publishing the consultation the Government acknowledged that these are complex proposals which require further development. The responses have been helpful in clarifying some of the issues involved including, importantly, the proposed timetable.

The consultation proposed that the new arrangements should be phased in over three years starting in April 2013. The Civil Aviation Bill, which is currently before Parliament, provides for various aviation security functions that are currently performed by the Department for Transport to be conferred on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Subject to the date of Royal Assent, we are preparing for the CAA to take on those functions from April 2014. The OFRB proposals would represent a significant change in the approach to the regulation of aviation security. We have therefore decided that development and roll-out of SeMS is the right first step to take towards the roll-out of the OFRB approach. The CAA has been consulted and supports this decision. The conferring of functions on the CAA does not depend on this development being completed.

The summary report, with further information about our plans for implementing the new approach, will be available in the Libraries of both Houses and on the Department’s website.