Cranfield launches unique aviation safety course in partnership with CAA International

By Ceri Evans - July 22, 2020

Cranfield University is launching a brand new course in partnership with CAA International (CAAi), the technical cooperation and training arm of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UKCAA): Aviation Safety Management, Risk and Regulation. This globally unique MSc postgraduate course will consider the regulatory background of all aspects of safety across the aviation industry - with UK employers able to access the part-time MSc through their Apprenticeship Levy funding, with the non-apprenticeship route available to both UK and international delegates.

As the industry moves from compliance to performance (or risk) based regulation, the new course will support the transformation of safety management and performance-based practices for regulators, industry and government agencies, both in the UK and across the globe. It is being led by the Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre (CSAIC), using its unique facilities, including a crash lab and airfield accident simulations. In 2011, the centre won the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for its world-leading work in aviation safety through research and training in air accident investigation. CAAi offers world-class training in regulatory and broader safety subjects, with experienced current regulators leading many of the courses.

Transforming the aviation industry

In 2014, the UK CAA started a journey to transform their organisation and the entire aviation industry from prescriptive compliance to a performance-based approach. The new aviation safety course is, in part, the outcome of a study completed by Cranfield back in 2017, highlighting a paradigm shift in the way aviation authorities work and regulate the industry. Ben Alcott, International Director at CAA, highlights the other drivers for creating the course:

“The regulation of aviation safety has evolved significantly from just compliance checking. Historically, the role of a regulator was learnt by osmosis, the industry did not have a professional academic qualification - until now. This new course will secure greater recognition for regulation as a profession. It will address the need to build new skill sets; to apply legislation and create updated regulation for an evolving industry; to address inefficiencies and find ways of doing things better; and crucially to ensure continued public safety as new technology emerges.”

A collaborative environment for industry and regulators

Students choosing the new MSc/postgraduate course will get a deep understanding of the global, regional and local regulatory structures, and of the regulatory philosophy applied in generating the right outcomes for the public. In studying the theory of performance-based regulation and its practical application - including elements of Cranfield’s accident investigation course - the course addresses the live regulatory challenges present in the industry.

The course is totally unique in bringing together the regulator and industry professionals in a collaborative environment to explore today’s challenges, and those of the future. From drone regulation, air taxis, passenger space flights to future aviation expansion, and impact on our environment, the course will provide the future leaders of the aviation industry with the tools to address operations, production and maintenance challenges. While in real life these groups often find themselves on opposite sides of the fence, here is huge opportunity to bring the industry and regulatory body together.

“Regulation done well means doing our work really efficiently and effectively for minimum burden to the industry and the public, and with maximum added value. Our regulators (at the CAA) will benefit from this course - not only the theory and its practical application, but simply from being in the same room, solving the same issues as their industry counterparts. We have long needed this course - it will transform the regulators and the industry for the better.”
Rob Bishton, Group Director Safety and Airspace Regulation, CAA

An understanding of why regulation is the way it is will ultimately help people perform their jobs better. This goes far beyond the realms of internal training programmes and CAAi’s short, focused courses. One of the course directors at Cranfield, Cengiz Turkoglu, explains:

“The performance-based regulatory approach is not just for regulators. The entire industry is based on internal quality and safety systems. Traditionally, in a compliance-based approach, innovation can be stifled - this course is the opportunity for the whole aviation industry to look at regulation differently - to understand how the CAA is applying concepts and how industry can apply to their own internal systems.”

The added bonus of the course for employers is that UK organisations can use the Apprenticeship Levy to fund the course - it is a Level 7 Mastership/MSc programme that has been mapped against an apprenticeship standard. Fundamentally, the course meets the intent of the Levy, to deliver long term sustainable funding for apprenticeships, giving employers more control to provide their staff with a range of training opportunities.

An immersive aviation institution combining theory and practical application

Cranfield is uniquely placed to offer this new course in partnership with CAA International - through its potent mix of academics and practitioners, coupled with unparalleled access to one of the most immersive aviation institutions in the world. Facilities include an operational airport and virtual control tower, with two of the largest new buildings at the university dedicated to aviation: the £35 million Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) opened with Rolls Royce and Airbus, and the new £67m Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) building, which is currently under construction.

"The implementation of safety management systems in industry and the practice of risk-based surveillance in the regulator, pioneered in the UK, have fundamentally changed the regulatory landscape. Never has it been more important for regulators and industry across the world to have a common understanding of how these tools can drive improved safety performance. We have chosen to work with Cranfield University in designing this course because of their exclusive focus on aviation and postgraduate education; access to a working airfield, with virtual control tower and aircraft, make this a unique place to learn.”
Ben Alcott, Director, Civil Aviation Authority (International Group)

Post-COVID 19 aviation industry

With the course starting in January 2021, it is paramount to consider this course through a COVID-19 lens. Ben explains:

“As an industry it will be more important than ever to give the public confidence. There will undoubtedly be more economic pressures for regulators, but also an even bigger drive to address the environmental issues associated with air travel. With new opportunities and innovations emerging - from hydrogen powered aircraft to electric aircraft - they can be no less safe and no less secure. The public protection remit remains. Now is the time to increase efficiency and effectiveness - moving away from compliance based regulation.”

A unique opportunity to address future industry challenges on a national and global scale

This course is set to provide vital technical knowledge in the context of safety, risk and regulation in aviation - from safety issues before and during operations, design, modification and repairs, all helping business operations and striking a better balance between cost and safety.

Air Navigation Commissioner and UK Alternate Representative to ICAO, Padhraic Kelleher, said:

“Aviation seems set for accelerated adoption of new technologies and new ways of doing business globally. Those who can best apply safety management and performance-based practices will be well-placed to make a difference. This course is a unique personal development opportunity designed to prepare industry professionals for the future of aviation. I am so excited about this programme’s potential!”

Bringing the regulators and the aviation industry together, the brand new Aviation Safety Management, Risk and Regulation course offers an academic qualification that when put into practice, will have global implications.

To secure your place on the course email: 

To find out more about the course contact:
David Barry

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