The UK’s CAA ‘opinion poll’ that shows Kiwi aviators were years ahead – and a lot smarter

08 October 2020 / by the GAA team / Consultation, GA in general, Governance, News, Opinion, Overview

Over in the UK, feathers are ruffling about Brexit’s effects on its CAA, and someone calling themselves Sky Lovers has decided to mount a user survey.  Here’s the survey link

The UK’s messy exit from the EU will have profound effects on its aviation regulator (and on private pilots who fancy a lunch in Le Touquet airport’s legendary restaurant, for example).

Opinion is free, but facts are sacred. These days, opinions seem to be a bit too free

The first thing you may notice is that this UK survey isn’t being run by GA supporters. It’s from a limited company that turns out to be a one-man band called CAA Complaints Limited, run by Haim Merkado, managing director.

The second thing, if you take a closer look at the survey, is how loaded the questions are. They’re almost rhetorical.

No wonder that when Pilot magazine in the UK publicised the project, a number of aviators wrote in to say that they had rejected the survey because the questions seemed biased and intended to support a pre-ordained conclusion.

We should pay attention to this, because: New Zealand’s GA population is a fraction of the UK’s; the UK CAA is infinitely more powerful than our Authority; and Kiwis have an established independent pressure group.

What does the UK ‘survey’ tell us?

First, we know that since 2012 when the GAA was established, there has been a non-profit, no-charge, user-supported network of more than 2000 GA pilots and operators in New Zealand – rather than an apparently lone British individual, behind a limited company, with a clear agenda, seeking to engage operators. This is distinctly odd.

Second, this survey indicates an apparent lack of an independent pressure group of UK GA operators – and that should trouble pilots there because, whatever its conclusions, the survey will be easily dismissed by the UK CAA and the politicians who ultimately control it, purely because it was so badly designed.

The GAA’s experience of running unbiased customer satisfaction surveys based on those run by two regulators (the NZ CAA and Australia’s CASA) indicates that the Sky Lovers survey won’t fly.

Our 2017/18 survey of customer satisfaction with the NZ CAA, which resulted in damning conclusions, was nevertheless ignored by the Authority until drastic management sackings and resignations occurred this year. But so far, we see no real indication of significant change at the CAA. Even the Director is still officially ‘Acting’. Nevertheless, we believe that GAA supporter feedback makes change inevitable.

The editor of Pilot magazine must have been asleep on the watch when the article promoting the Sky Lovers survey was published. The poll can’t be supported by sensible flying Brits, because it’s so heavily loaded – and that weakens the influence of anyone flying in the UK who prefers not to belong to an established aviation organisation.

(Oh, and by the way, some of what Merkado tries to put into the mouths of his prospective supporters makes sense.)