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Committee approves appointment of Sir Stephen Hillier as Chair of CAA

9 June 2020

Following a pre-appointment hearing by the Transport Committee on Friday 5 June, MPs have endorsed the appointment of Sir Stephen Hillier DFC CBE to the role of Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Sir Stephen has a distinguished record of service in the Royal Air Force from 1980-2019, including time in the top role of Chief of the Air Staff from July 2016 to July 2019.

The pre-appointment hearing and written questions addressed his background and experience, his motivation for taking up the role, his understanding of the CAA and the challenges ahead.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:

“This is an extremely challenging time for civil aviation. Coronavirus has had an immediate impact and we will feel the repercussions for quite some time. Consumers are right to question the protections they are due. As technology advances, we need an environmentally sustainable aviation sector. And there is a changing regulatory environment, including our priorities as the UK leaves the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Even as Sir Stephen first applied for the role, he cannot have foreseen the range of change ahead.

“Throughout our hearing, Sir Stephen was open and engaging, offering thoughtful answers to our questions on the work and priorities of the CAA.  We are more than satisfied that he has the professional competence and personal independence required for the post of Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority and the priorities ahead.

“Today's report recommends that the Secretary of State at the Department for Transport proceeds with the appointment of Sir Stephen Hillier and the Committee wishes him every success in the future.  We look forward to hearing from him again as he undertook to come back in six months' time to update the committee on his progress.”
Pre-appointment hearings add to a committee's scrutiny of the Government as they ensure parliamentary oversight of key public appointments. The purpose of the hearing is to enable the committee to investigate whether a candidate has the professional competence and personal independence required for the post, should they be appointed.

This is the first time that MPs have been involved in the appointment for the Chair of the CAA. It follows an inquiry into pre-appointment hearings by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in 2018, which reviewed the list of appointments which should be subject to scrutiny by select committees.

The Civil Aviation Authority is a public corporation which was established by Parliament in 1972 as an independent specialist aviation regulator. As the UK's aviation regulator, it aims to ensure that:

  • The aviation industry meets the highest safety standards
  • Consumers have choice and value for money and are protected and treated fairly when they fly
  • Through efficient use of airspace, the environmental impact of aviation on local communities is effectively managed and carbon dioxide emissions are reduced, and the aviation industry manages security risks effectively.

The CAA also runs the ATOL holiday financial protection scheme and economically regulates some airports and certain aspects of air traffic control.

A description of the role of the CAA Chair and Sir Stephen's CV are included in the appendices of the attached report, along with the questions the committee asked the candidate ahead of the pre-appointment session.

Further information

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