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CAA Prosecution (updated)

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CAA Prosecution (updated)

Old 13th Nov 2003, 19:22
  #1 (permalink)  
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CAA Prosecution

I note that the CAA have recently prosecuted someone for an airspace infringement, see the link below for details:


Interesting comment from Tudor that he can't remember when the CAA last prosecuted a pilot without anyone being put in danger.

Doesn't tie in well with what has been said in this forum does it?
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Old 13th Nov 2003, 20:28
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What an absolutely scandalous waste of time and money. Look forward to this being raised at next weeks's CAA Small Helicopter Safety Seminar!
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Old 13th Nov 2003, 21:01
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He learned of the temporary no-fly zone from Bristol Air traffic control that morning but he believed he would only infringe the edge of the zone. He claimed to have telephoned the air traffic-control unit at the site two or three times "but they did not answer". Asked if he had radioed the unit, Barroll-Brown said he did not have the unit's frequency.
Is it the fine or the disciplinary action you are concerned about? It seem to be a pretty clear violation, as he knew about the restricted area but deliberately chose to fly into it anyway. Why didn't he take the extra time to find the ATC frequency? It wasn't exactly an emergency flight.

Perhaps it was a political statement on the nature of such TFR's. Unfortunately, the (somewhat tautological) response of those who put up such restrictions is to use such incursions as justification to keep the restrictions in place, "see, someone busted the TFR - we need to make it bigger!".
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Old 13th Nov 2003, 21:31
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First Mistake.......Busting Airspace.
Second Mistake........Making a Statement......
Third Mistake........He didnt call Flying Lawyer between mistake number one and two......
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Old 13th Nov 2003, 21:49
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B Sousa,

Tudor WAS the defending lawyer and IS the "Flying Lawyer"
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Old 14th Nov 2003, 00:38
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If the pilot knowingly entered a 'Temporary Restricted Area' then I personally have no sympathy with him getting his butt kicked as a result.

Fly Safely,
Old 14th Nov 2003, 01:06
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Thumbs up

Doesn't seem worth it to give your son's friend a joy ride, does it? Looks like Tudor couldn't do much for him since it was such a blatent violation, but it definately makes you wonder. There wasn't any clear danger (this time), so the prosecution of the pilot seems more vengeful than anything else. Kind of a, "How dare you... we're gonna show you, now" agenda.

Granted... mess with the bull and you should expect to get the horns. Blowing off TFR's and busting airspace makes us all look like a bunch of cowboys, and it was pretty darn irresponsible - which he admits. Nevertheless, the prosecution seems overly eager to throw the book at this pilot.

Why? I'm sure Tudor can't say, but I would guess that there is something more behind the scene than meets the eye.
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Old 14th Nov 2003, 05:48
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If I drive at 120mph on a deserted 4 lane motorway, theres not much danger to other users. If I get caught by the Police, I'll get prosecuted, cos theres a law that says it's illegal to exceed the speed limit.

I guess that's how the CAA saw this one, especially as the pilot knew about the no-fly zone but chose to ignore it.

Even FL couldnt get him off the hook, so he must be really guilty!

Mr Owen added: "Someone should have said there was a temporary restriction but no one did.
Did the accused not check the NOTAMs???
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Old 14th Nov 2003, 07:39
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Old Heliman

Of course it doesn't "tie in well with what has been said in this forum".
What you read on PPRuNe is written by me; what you read in the newspapers is a journo's version of what I've said. I'm sure you don't normally believe all you read in the newspapers but I realise the temptation was too great on this occasion for reasons you know, and I worked out a long time ago.

What I actually said (in the course of suggesting it was curious this matter was prosecuted rather than being dealt with by a warning) was that I couldn't recall a previous occasion when someone had been prosecuted for infringing restricted airspace where there was no element of danger.

The CAA frequently prosecutes pilots for breaches of the regs where there was not even a remote risk of danger. What was unusual in this case was that the CAA had to concede there was no danger. The more common CAA approach is to embark on flights of fancy about what 'might' have happened in order to create an impression that what a pilot did was terribly dangerous.

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 14th Nov 2003 at 15:12.
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Old 14th Nov 2003, 08:57
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You've put it a little more strongly than I would, but I agree it was an unnecessary prosecution. I think a formal warning, recorded on his CAA file for future reference, would have been sufficient.

B. Sousa
Very kind of you to say so.
He didn't take legal advice until after he'd been interviewed, admitted the offence, and been told he was being prosecuted.
We'll never know if it would have made any difference to the end result if he'd sought advice earlier but, in general, it's very unwise to be interviewed without taking advice from an aviation specialist solicitor - whether or not you're proposing to admit the offence. BTW, I'm not advertising - I'm not a solicitor.

Sympathy is a subjective emotion. You either feel it or you don't. Fair enough. If you mean prosecution was the correct course in this instance, I disagree but respect your point of view.
A more accurate comparison would be a car driving at 80 mph in your deserted motorway analogy.
If what you're saying is that pilots should always be prosecuted if they are caught breaking any Regulation, then I'm afraid we're so far apart it's unlikely we'd ever meet in the middle.

The pilot suspected local politics lay behind the complaint being made. I have no idea if it did. All I know is the owners of the house where he landed had allowed their field to be used for the previous year's festival, but not this year.

I have no reason to suspect there was anything more than meets the eye in the CAA's decision to prosecute. Despite claims to the contrary, they tend to prosecute even minor breaches if they've got the evidence. Even allowing for that, I would have expected this infringement to be dealt with by a warning in all the circumstances, especially as he didn't endanger anyone.

No-one's suggested the pilot wasn't guilty. He admitted he was, and pleaded guilty.
Having failed twice to get through to anyone on the 'temporary heliport' number (a mobile phone) he flew 12 minutes from the hotel towards his friend's house, intending to make an assessment when he got near. He identified the 'heliport' (actually a field), saw there was no activity and assumed (wrongly) that explained why he couldn't get through on the phone. He assessed the house was either just outside the restricted area or, at worst, just inside. It could be reached without overflying either the heliport or the festival itself (even further away), so he continued.
He admitted he was wrong to fly there without reading the AIC. He admitted he was wrong to continue knowing the house might be just inside the restricted area. Because there was no activity at the heliport and, at worst he'd be landing only just inside the restricted area, he assumed nobody would be too bothered. He got that very wrong - some kind soul reported him.

Re Mr Owen added: "Someone should have said there was a temporary restriction but no one did."
(I didn't use those precise words, but they're close enough.)
No, he didn't check the Notams; yes, he should have.
My point was:
Although there was no flying, the Ops Manager (Ford) and 'controller' (Ward) were on site, saw him land the far side of a nearby village and sent the an assistant (Tolley) to get the registration. Tolley saw the pilot at the helicopter but, instead of speaking to him, took the registration back to Ford and Ward.
It was a quiet all day with little flying. Ford, or someone on his behalf could easily, and in my view should, have spoken to the pilot to point out he was in the restricted area - just in case he didn't realise. I didn't suggest they were under any obligation to do so.
My point was that, if they were so concerned about the infringement, it's rather surprising they didn't speak to him about it when they had the opportunity to do so. If they had, it would have ensured there were no further movements without prior permission.

I believe we should help each other in aviation. If we see someone doing something wrong, and have an opportunity to speak to them, a simple 'Do you realise ......... ' is preferable to keeping quiet, letting them carry on and then reporting them.
Just my opinion.

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 15th Nov 2003 at 12:24.
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Old 14th Nov 2003, 13:28
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FL "I believe we should help each other in aviation. If we see someone doing something wrong, and have an opportunity to speak to them, a simple 'Do you realise ......... ' is preferable to keeping quiet, letting them carry on and then reporting them."

And there you have succinctly summarised one of the big problems in UK aviation. The police-state attitude of SOME leads to stupid scenarios such as the one here. The end result is that the "heliport" ATC staff allowed the pilot to keep flying without warning when they had a perfect opportunity to confront him and explain what he was doing wrong. They should also have been prosecuted.

But in truth, nobody should be prosecuted for this. I would rather that "my" CAA spent "our" money on some of the vastly under-funded services they offer. The pilot in this incident could have added to his defence that the CAA have a responsibility to ensure that NOTAMs are disseminated in a manner which ensures that the message gets to the target.......I believe at the time of this incident we were all still struggling with the farce that continues to be the online service.

On a trip this summer to Manston, I did my online search for NOTAMS along and near by intended flightpath. There was no mention of a major airshow at Folkestone and there was no mention of the fact that 6 Tornados were using Manston as a staging point for the airshow. In my pre-flight phone call to ATC these things were not mentioned.

In an age when I can get BBC and other weather reports direct to my mobile phone, is it too much to ask that the CAA catches up ? If the right info is available in the right format, then we could all avoid infringing an empty field - sorry, heliport.
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Old 15th Nov 2003, 01:59
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I fully agree. The notam system in this country is a disgrace, along with the many glaring errors in the AIP. Have you ever tried to phone NATS to sort this out - I have never got through.

Commercial aviators, particularly helo operators who are generally doing everything themselves (flying, passenger handling, engineering, logistics etc, etc) deserve support from these organisations not hinderence. This is the British attitude; we can now find a thousand of reasons for not doing something and very few for. We are ruled by little men who take pleasure and profit by interfering and being obstructive.

I'm pleased the 1000s I have paid the CAA is being used sensibly. The pilot was guilty but so was everyone who let him continue.
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Old 15th Nov 2003, 03:23
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Some years ago a CAA staffer told me the biggest single cause of CAA enforcement action was aviators grassing each other up.
Often it's done for commercial advantage. One club or operator will see an infringement and get on the phone to the CAA to cause trouble for a competitor.
Often it's done by self-righteous pricks to cause trouble for the sake of it.
Once in a blue moon it's done because something dangerous is going on and there is no civilised way to stop it.
Sometimes it's so petty even the CAA get sick of it.
Our ATC friends at Glastonbury must be pretty pleased with themselves.
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Old 16th Nov 2003, 03:55
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It is a great pity that the pilot was forced into a corner like this. Given the information in the original article , and assuming it is the same "John Barrell Brown" (there can't be too many of them), I notice his interests on his corporate website are listed as "anything Welsh; i.e. drinking, singing and supporting lost causes." ho hum....

see http://www.cit.co.uk/team_biog_uk_01.html
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Old 16th Nov 2003, 05:16
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At the risk of highjacking the thread, I agree. I have picked up a number of ommisions and corrections. When I have approached NATS, they have not even had the courtesy to acknowledge receipt - they are "world leaders" of course ................ but in what?
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Old 16th Nov 2003, 05:46
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I would rather that "my" CAA spent "our" money on some of the vastly under-funded services they offer.
My understanding is that the CAA enforcement activity is funded by the government and not through CAA charges. The CAA are therefore not able to spend the money on other services.
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Old 16th Nov 2003, 06:19
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If the CAA's enforcement is paid for out of general taxation, why does the CAA insist on recovering all of its costs from the people it prosecutes?
If I murder my neighbour, I'm not expected to fund the entire police investigation and the full costs of the prosecution.
But if some officious twerp thinks he sees me step over the CAA's line in the sand, the CAA will say to me: 'Right, son - you can plead guilty and take your licks, or you can plead not guilty, in which case we will also go after you for tens of thousands of pounds in costs.' (And believe me, they can amount to huge sums, even on uncomplicated investigations).
Any court appearance is a roll of the dice, even with Tudor Owen in your corner.
Am I going to plead not guilty, because I'm innocent, and risk the consequences? Or am I going to plead guilty, and ensure the lesser penalty?
The CAA's approach flies in the face of any notion of justice.
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Old 16th Nov 2003, 11:39
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Interesting and depressing insight into the methods of your government.
I remember reading decades ago about how the aviation authority in Australia got so bloated and impossible to deal with that eventually they had more goverment agents than pilots or something close.
Then there was a revolt and regulations were cut in half.
Anybody remember how that was done?
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Old 16th Nov 2003, 15:52
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It's my understanding that the CAA are not government run, they are stand alone and have to make a profit year on year.

Having said that, they are given targets to achieve both operationally and budgetary, by government.

I wasn't aware they received a penny from HM?
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Old 17th Nov 2003, 03:35
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Speaking as somebody who earns his crust in the design, certification and flight test business - I'd be fascinated to know how many people CAA has in these activities compared to UK industry. I suspect it's probably about even, which might give an indication of why many of us feel that we're suffering from a surfeit of care and attention from the authority at times.

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