Episode 1

Published on:

16th May 2022

Airworthiness – Carbon monoxide – STEM

This episode includes updates on recent work across three areas; Airworthiness, a Carbon monoxide project and STEM.


We published our latest Virtual Voyage session in April with a special focus on Airworthiness. This is available to view on the Virtual voyage | Civil Aviation Authority (caa.co.uk). As part of this session, we share details of our previous GA Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO) Roadshow.

For those of you interested in participating in the next CAMO roadshow please complete this registration survey.

 We also shared a presentation on the GA B3 Licence. Aimed at GA maintenance organisations, engineers and mechanics and anyone who has any feedback on the GA Airworthiness licensing system, please can we ask you to complete this B3 licence awareness survey

The information shared in the survey will be used to better understand if there is a role for the CAA here to better support GA maintenance organisations.

We really appreciate your input, thank you.

Carbon monoxide project

We discussed with Thomas Weir the current CAA project on Carbon Monoxide. All the information on this project and reports produced are available on the CAA website at:

Carbon monoxide in general aviation | Civil Aviation Authority (caa.co.uk)


To read the historic aviation magazines mentioned visit;

Historic Aviation | Civil Aviation Authority (caa.co.uk)

For more information on the work of CAA and STEM visit:

STEM | Opportunities in Aviation (caa.co.uk)


To subscribe to SkyWise visit http://skywise.caa.co.uk/

Contact us

To get in touch please email GApodcast@caa.co.uk


Alex Blomley 0:23

Hello, and welcome to the CAA's General Aviation podcast. My name is Alex Blomley. I sit within the Communications team at the CAA and I will be hosting this new GA podcast going forward. So we still have CAA On Air podcast, some of you may be familiar with those episodes, they continue so please look out for those. But we thought it would be a good time to bring a podcast series that was dedicated solely to general aviation in the UK, an opportunity for us to share updates and projects and discussions with you in this area. So welcome to our first episode. And we'll get started. We're hoping to be able to bring you the GA podcast approximately four times a year coinciding with the release of our core quarterly updates that we do have our press releases every quarter. So we've recently published our Q1 '22 press release, you will find this on the CAA news web page on our website. We also Skywise this and share this as a press release to our GA stakeholders in the UK as well. So please do look out for this to have a read of all the things that we've been doing. We also ensure that we highlight any public safety sense leaflets or articles for example, on particular safety issues that we may want to flag up as well. We do share this communication via Skywise as I mentioned, so if you're not a subscriber of Skywise, please do go to the CAA webpages and search for Skywise. And you will find instructions on there in order to enter your details and select the categories of information that you would like sent to you. Right, so we're going to move on to our first discussion, and I'm going to be having a chat with John Davies from our airworthiness team about our recent virtual voyage program that we published at the beginning of April. So this was an opportunity for us to focus more on our airworthiness topics and provide a bit of an update on some of our up and coming activities. So we are due to be having another series of our camo roadshow. This is a build on a roadshow that we did last year. And also we're hoping to be publishing our new air worthiness code very shortly this is similar in design to Skyway code, which I hope you're all familiar with, but an opportunity to focus a document specifically on airworthiness matters. So we're joined today by John Davis. Hello, John. Welcome, and thank you.

John Davies 2:40

Yeah. Hi, Alex. Thanks for doing this. I work with a team of approximately 15 airworthiness surveyors. So that's airworthiness engineers and inspectors in ICAO terms and we look after the air worthiness of the GA fleet. So we do initial air worthiness which is aircraft approval and modifications, continued airworthiness, which is all the good stuff like airworthiness directives, mandatory permit directors and other safety material and we also look after continuing airworthiness, which is the maintenance and continuing airworthiness management organizations such as the part cal organizations and part 145 organizations who look after the GA fleet at the moment, the fleet's about approximately 12,000 aircraft, which runs from flex wing trike at one end to an ex military jet, the other so that gives you an example of the breadth of the stuff we deal with.

Alex Blomley 3:28

Thank you for that. So at the beginning of April, we published our latest virtual voyage as a playback video, which you can view on the virtual voyage web page on our website and also via our CAA YouTube channel. And we use this as an opportunity to focus on air worthiness with the topics covered including our forthcoming new document on air worthiness, which is going to be called the air worthiness code, maintenance guide flight aircraft, which we hope to publish very soon, as well as an update on the next series of our camo roadshow and the GA B3 licence. So John, for those who aren't familiar, are we able to start with the CAMO roadshow? Are you able to just share with us what that was and what your ambitions are for this in the future?

John Davies 3:28

The CAMO roadshows were a series of events that we ran from December '19, to April '20. We did 18 roadshows across the country, we had approximately 120 organizations and about 150 people attended. The aim of the roadshow was to ensure that we all have the same understanding of continuing airworthiness management. This involves talking through the airworthiness review process application of airworthiness directives, and generally the responsibilities of the owner and operator and the responsibilities of the maintenance organization. These workshops were a great success, and we're hoping this year to run a similar series with some new topics.

Alex Blomley 4:49

Thank you for that, John. That's really helpful. And so as part of the virtual voyage I know we did launch a survey asking for members of our community to register their interest in being part of this next series. Can you tell us a bit more about the survey, please,

John Davies 5:02

We launched the survey really to give you the opportunity as a community of sharing with us the topics that you'd like to be covered in the next series of roadshow events. And we'd like you all to register your interest. And also organizations that wish to hold an event. We'd also like to hear from you, thanks to everybody who's responded so far, is really helpful and valuable as to be able to tailor these events to your needs. At the end of the day, these are your forums, and we work for you.

Alex Blomley 5:27

So of the topics that we asked about, have there been any clear favorites,

John Davies 5:32

well one thing of course, for the certified fleet, the introduction and part ml and part SEO were quite big events where the rules and regulations for G airplanes diverged from that for large commercial air transport. And whilst that was something that the community have always asked for, there are lots of elements of this, for example, maintenance programs, application modifications, maintenance responsibilities and owners responsibilities that have changed. And we're going to be using these workshops to embed these new requirements with the community. We've got lots of questions about EU exit, and we'll be explaining what we can and cannot do within the structure. We also like to focus on occurrence reporting, and just culture occurrence reporting is increasing and improving in the GA community. And we'd really like to feed back on that and to try and get people more involved.

Alex Blomley 6:23

So really a great opportunity to have some really strong direct dialogue with us and with our community on these areas.

John Davies 6:32

Absolutely. Yeah, the brilliant thing about the last series of roadshows is that we get to hear from people that we don't normally hear from, it's very important to us that we hear not only the voices of the big organizations, but also the smaller organizations who are looking after the GA aircraft

Alex Blomley 6:49

it's also a demonstration of the breadth of GA that we work with on a daily basis, you know, when we'll be able to launch the roadshow dates for later this year.

John Davies 6:57

Hopefully, we'll start to circulate venues in June to give people some time to do some planning. We'd obviously like to avoid the main flying season for people. But we'll be looking to start the planning then, and hopefully get forward to delivering them in September.

Alex Blomley 7:11

Fantastic. That's all sounds very, very exciting. And it would be great if maybe we could join you if maybe the GA podcast could join you on one of your sessions. So we could hear more about it live as it were with what goes on

John Davies 7:22

Absolutely, always welcome. Well, everyone's always welcome.

Alex Blomley 7:25

Brilliant. So we're just going to move on now to another quite big topic that was discussed. That's the GA B3 license, and we had quite an in depth presentation from Joanna McDonald as part of the virtual voyage. Are you able just for those that may not have watched it yet, although I encourage you all to do so to give us a bit more information on the B3 licence?

John Davies 7:43

Yeah, certainly we at the CAA, we believe that there's a general perception that younger people are not in coming into the GA maintenance industry. We also know that there's a lot of people who are, shall we say, have been in there for 10 or 15 years who have great experience who think it's too difficult to get a license. We also think that there's a sort of anecdotal view that some organizations are reluctant to train staff because of both the cost and the availability of relevant training applicable to GA. And also there's a commercial concern that once the staff are qualified, it could be difficult to retain them. There are challenges. And I think in order to understand those challenges, we need feedback from industry as to how we can address them. We are already talking to some GA training providers. But what we really need is some statistical information to back this up as to what demand for a B three license course, for example, there is

Alex Blomley 8:36

That sounds very interesting and interesting that it's tricky one where we as the regulator have a view, but we don't necessarily always know the true feelings on the ground. So we launched a survey, which is running. We've had some interesting responses so far. But I suppose its activities, like our community feeding back to us via this platform that are so valuable to us.

John Davies 8:55

Absolutely. It's important for us to understand the barriers that individuals face in becoming a licensed Maintenance Engineer for GA aircraft the survey is really important. And we're really keen to understand what industry think.

Alex Blomley 9:11

So I understand the survey will run for another month or so. And I guess the plan will be to collect the results, comments, etc. Any thoughts on what the next plan or next stage might look like after that survey?

John Davies 9:23

Well, once we've done the analysis, we'll be engaging with training providers and try to convince them that this is a good thing to do. I mean, I think that going forward, we all believe that with the new technologies and other advances in general aviation, that being a GA licensed engineer could well become a very good career path for the future.

Alex Blomley 9:44

And I suppose anecdotally, despite the recent covid pandemic that we've all lived through GA actually has been thriving over that period.

John Davies 9:53

Absolutely. Yeah, we're busier than ever. We've got lots of exciting projects with some ex military aircraft coming on. We've got A lot of new technologies were supporting the introduction of electric power plants. For example, we're involved with a lot of initiatives across Europe with regard to lighter than air new airships, new balloon types. We're working with EASA and the FAA and other authorities on stuff like updating sailplane codes to ensure that we're all in touch with the new technologies.

Alex Blomley:

So could we come back and maybe have a chat with you in a few months and see how things like the B3 license and all the other fantastic projects that you're involved with?

John Davies:

Absolutely. Hopefully, we can give you some good news. And we're all these exciting projects have got to.

Alex Blomley:

John, thank you so much for taking us through all of that really fantastic to hear all about those great projects. For those of you who would like to take part in those surveys mentioned there, the camo survey and the B3 license survey. That information is available on our virtual voyage web pages. But we have also included some notes and there's links in the notes to the podcast.


You're listening to the General Aviation podcast from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Alex Blomley:

Okay, so we're now going to move on to our second discussion on today's podcast. And we're going to be joined by Thomas Weir Thomas is within our general aviation policy team. But he's also leading on our active carbon monoxide detector project, which some of you may be familiar with, we do have approximately 100 GA pilots who have registered in our monthly trial. So we thought it would be nice to introduce Thomas here and have a chat with him about the work he has been doing. So Thomas, welcome. And thank you so much for joining us today. I wondered if as part of the beginning of our discussion, you'd be able to just share with everybody who you are your role and the work that you do at the CAA.

Thomas Weir:

Hi, thanks for having me. So I'm Thomas Weir and I'm a GA Policy Officer with a focus on airworthiness.

Alex Blomley:

Great, thanks Thomas, So, we thought it'd be nice to invite you here today to have a chat about carbon monoxide. And the risk to GA for those who aren't fully aware of what carbon monoxide actually is, or the impact of carbon monoxide poisoning and the risk it has on general aviation aircraft. Are you able to tell us a bit more about that?

Thomas Weir:

So carbon monoxide, or CO is the result of incomplete combustion of fuel. And basically, it comes about when there isn't enough oxygen in the fuel burning process, it poses a significant health risk to people. And it's particularly dangerous because you can't see it, smell it or taste it. And that's why it's often referred to as the silent killer. When we're exposed to carbon monoxide. It affects the ability of our blood to carry oxygen to vital organs and tissues all throughout our body. And the way it works is when we breathe it in, it enters our bloodstream, and it combined with hemoglobin, that's the part of our red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. And I've read that the binding affinity between hemoglobin and carbon monoxide is two to 300 times greater than it is for hemoglobin and oxygen, so you don't need very much CO to reach toxic levels in your body. So as a result, the ability of our blood to carry oxygen is significantly reduced. And we end up with symptoms that are quite similar to hypoxia. So you have things like headaches and dizziness, disorientation, confusion, feeling sick shortness of breath, and if it's bad enough, if it's a high enough dose of CO then you will lose consciousness and die. You'll notice that many of the symptoms I explained there are similar to other more common ailments like flu or food poisoning, and that means that CO poisoning is often overlooked as the culprit in terms of the risk posed to occupants of general aviation aircraft. So many piston engine aircraft have cabin heating systems that use air that flows over the exhaust manifold and provides heat to the cabin. And if there's even a tiny crack in the exhaust manifold, or maybe a faulty seal, then fumes can enter the cabin when the cabin heater is turned on. And there are other ways that CO poisoning can occur. For example, aircraft with with nose mounted engines, they usually have a stream of exhaust gas that flows down the outside of the fuselage. So past the cabin and if you had any poorly fitting doors or window seals, access panels, etc. They can provide entry paths into the cabin for carbon monoxide. So yeah, there are a few different ways that CO can enter GA aircraft.

Alex Blomley:

So what can GA pilots do to help avoid this happening to them whilst flying?

Thomas Weir:

As is always the case, prevention is better than cure. So It's therefore really important that pilots and owners make sure the aircraft exhaust is as well as the heating and ventilation systems, they're in good working order. And you know, they will maintain their checks in accordance with the relevant maintenance data. If you have a heater on your aircraft that hasn't been used for months, maybe following some summer flying, for example, then the whole system should be checked thoroughly before a flight where it's it's likely to be used. In addition to good maintenance. The other way that pilots can protect themselves and their passengers from CO is by having a CO detector. And there's a wide range of options on the market. But broadly speaking, detectors fall into two main categories, you have passive ones, and you have active ones, the passive ones people probably be quite familiar with, they have a spot on them that changes color when exposed to carbon monoxide. The advantage of them is they're very small, they're light, and they're cheap. But they do have a very short lifespan just a few months, sometimes three to six months. And the biggest drawback of the passive detectors is that they have no intention of getting capability. So unless you're looking at it regularly, while you're flying, you may not even be aware that it's changed color, the active detectors, they're becoming increasingly popular. So these do have attention guessing capability. And it's usually via alarms, flashing lights, and some of them vibrate as well, they've become quite a lot cheaper and smaller in recent years. And you can get ones that have sensor lives up to seven years. And I think battery lives even longer than that I've seen up to 10 years. So yeah, given all this, it's easy to understand why active CO detectors are becoming much more popular.

Alex Blomley:

So this then brings us onto the study that the CAA is doing on this called the CODE project. So are you able to share a bit more about what that project is doing?

Thomas Weir:

The CODE project stands for carbon monoxide, that's the CO part detector evaluation. And it was set up really to help us to understand how active co detectors perform in UK GA aircraft. So recognizing that these devices these active detectors are appearing in GA cockpits more frequently. Now, there are GA pilots who have been flying with these devices for for years. And we recognize that they've gained valuable knowledge and experience that we're hoping to tap into another reason for launching the CODE project was to raise general awareness of CO as a hazard and what we can do to combat it. So people are aware, and with a particular focus on the detection side of things.

Alex Blomley:

So why now? Why is it most poignant to be looking at this now?

Thomas Weir:

Yeah, it's a good question. So again, with active detectors, becoming ever more popular, due to them being more affordable, and much more capable, it felt like the right time for us to launch this project. And I think the technology, it really has changed things in this area, as not only are devices getting smaller and cheaper, but we're seeing active co detectors being sort of bundled with other aviation equipment, things like ADSB, as well as detectors that that can be synced with other devices, including smartwatches. So I think the technology side has really pushed things forward. And that's really why now is the right time for us to be looking at this in more detail.

Alex Blomley:

So what has the project achieved to date, then? Are there any particular findings that you've discovered in terms of how people are engaging with this technology

Thomas Weir:

With Project CODE, we're really hoping to get a good sense of how active detectors perform in GA aircraft. So what are pilots experience of flying with them? Have they had any issues with them? Have they had any alerts, things like that. And the surveys that we've designed answers all those questions and more. And when you collate the data that we're gathering for the many aircraft types and the different detectors over a 12 month period, you do get a very good overview of how these devices perform as well as any issues associated with your use. So it has been incredibly insightful for us.

Alex Blomley:

And are we will to read up about any of these findings thus far.

Thomas Weir:

Yeah, the CODE project does have various elements to it. And the first thing we did last summer was launch a dedicated web page for carbon monoxide in general aviation. It's sort of a hub for information on CO including prevention and protection strategies, as well as the latest on project code activities. So that's where people can go and get the latest information, if you like the first engagement that we had with the public on this topic was a survey that ran for eight weeks in July last year. And that attracted about 600 participants. And it was really the first opportunity for UK GA pilots to share their experiences of dealing with carbon monoxide with us directly. And for anyone interested, the full findings from that survey are available on the CO webpage as an infographic. And following on from that we were quite encouraged by the positive response that we had from that initial survey. And it was on the back of that, that we launched, the more in depth study, which is this year long trial that we're running at the moment, we have about 100 volunteer participants involved in the trial. And these are people who already fly with an active CO detector and have kindly agreed to respond to our monthly surveys based on you know, their recent experience flying with the device. So yeah, it's all available on on the website. Fantastic.

Alex Blomley:

Wow. So it's quite a quite a big project there. Is there anything you'd like to add at this stage in terms of where you're at?

Thomas Weir:

Yes, it was just past the halfway mark. For the 12 month trial, the findings from the first quarter of the trial, they are now available, I think it was published in February. So they're available on the GA webpage on the carbon monoxide page. And at the time of recording, we are currently at work closing together the findings from the second quarter. And we hope that that will be published later this month. So end of April, I guess I just like to say a big thank you to the 100 or so volunteers who signed up to the 12 month trial. And have committed to completing the surveys every month, can't overstate how helpful getting that data is for us. And also a big thanks to the 600 people who participated in the initial survey that we did last summer, which was the precursor to this 12 month trial. Again, if you want to find out more information on this topic, I'd encourage people to visit the webpage. And if you have any comments or questions, we do have a dedicated email address set up so you can contact us at code@caa.co.uk.

Alex Blomley:

So you mentioned that you're six months in so what does the next six months look like then?

Thomas Weir:

Yes, the second quarterly report, as I was saying, should be available at the end of April. And then plan is to have the q3 report to follow in June. And the 12 month trial will conclude in August. And we're hoping that we can deliver a summary report with all the findings from the whole 12 month period shortly after that,

Alex Blomley:

Do you think we might be able to have another chat with you maybe it might be quite nice to provide an update to our listeners kind of when we get to that end of year period, maybe see what the data says. Yeah. Happy to come back. That's great. Well, thank you so much for your time Thomas. That's been really useful. Thank you so much for going through that project with us.

Thomas Weir:

No problem. Thanks for having me.


Stay up to date with Skywise from the CAA by visiting skywise.caa.co.uk.

Alex Blomley:

Now our final section on this first GA podcast is looking at a joint magazine published by the CAA and the Depart of Transport called Reach for the sky. And this is taking a closer look at the relationship between historic aviation and STEM the importance of inspiring the next generation of aviation and aerospace enthusiasts and the magazine looks at a visit that Robert Courts, MP minister for aviation undertook at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center. And here he talked about the importance of STEM and inspiring the next generation.

Robert Courts, MP:

So I'm here today at the East Kirkby heritage Aviation Center. And behind me is the beautiful, iconic mighty Avro Lancaster. This one's called just Jane and she is being restored the flying condition behind me as we speak. East Kirkby is a living memorial to the 55,000 Bomber Command air crew who sadly did not return whilst they were fighting evil during the Second World War for me as well there is a particularly personal link here. Whilst my grandfather and my great uncles served and came back. They too served on Lancaster's and Bomber Command during the Second World War. What I'm here to do today is partly to pay my respects to those 55,000 but also to see how these vital aviation skills are being kept alive so that we not only remember the past, but we also inspire the next generation because it's that next generation that's going to make sure we have a vital thriving aviation sector for the future.

Alex Blomley:

The minister emphasized how important it is for schoolchildren to be exposed to the STEM subjects science, technology, engineering and maths at a young age in order to encourage them and inspire them to consider careers and professional roles within the aviation and aerospace industries,

Robert Courts, MP:

it is very important that we start getting the awareness of aviation and of STEM more generally really ingrained in people at a young age, because that's at that young age that people start thinking about what they might want to do as subjects that they choose. But it's also passions that they have and interest of they have outside of school as well, because so much of that comes in terms of forming the person that you're going to be. I know, that's true of me. I was really young, when I started getting involved and interested in aviation, and that's grown into a lifelong passion. I'm sure that's the case with others as well.

Alex Blomley:

The minister was keen to emphasize the wealth and breadth of opportunities available to those interested in pursuing a career within aviation and aerospace industries.

Robert Courts, MP:

I think the key thing to emphasize is that whatever your skill set, whatever your interest, there's a really great career waiting for you. In aviation, people often think about aviation as being a pilot. And that's vital, and we need more pilots. But even for those who can't fly, there are other brilliant careers available as well. And just here behind me on just chain, you can see the breadth of careers that are available, because you have mechanics, you have people who understand the way that the aircraft works. So there's a huge amount of support and groundwork available as well. And that is increasingly the case now because now we have technology that's available to us that was as yet unheard of to the people who built designed flew this aircraft, they simply wouldn't have been able to anticipate the extraordinary opportunity we have out there today with all the digital world we now The Minister set

Alex Blomley:

out his focus and his ambitions for aviation in the UK, and how STEM has a vital role within those ambitions.

Robert Courts, MP:

We vitally want the UK to be the best country in the world for general aviation, we want the UK to remain the aviation nation with a huge ambition for what we can achieve and for what we are. That's never more the case now as you start seeing incredible new challenges with things like decarbonisation, but also huge opportunities as well with new technology, and then things like drones as well. So from whatever part of aviation you come from, there's something here for you. And I want everyone here to realize that the UK is a real world leader. STEM education is absolutely vital for the next generation of aerospace engineers and for pilots. And it may be that you go into aviation, and maybe you go into another technical area. But the importance of this is absolutely critical.

Alex Blomley:

Now for those of you listening, who'd be interested in reading the Reach for the sky magazine, and some additional materials that we have supporting the work that the CAA and the Department for Transport are doing in this area, we do have an historic aviation webpage that we've set up on our GA web pages on the CAA website, which have two magazines reach for the sky, which we've been talking about today, and flying heritage, which we published back in November. Both of these are available to access on these web pages. We also have an embedded video within the reach for the sky magazine, as well as further videos on the historic aviation web pages. So again, if you are not a subscriber to Sky wise, these are the sorts of things that we share as part of that subscription. So please go to the CAA website search for Sky wise, and there'll be instructions on there on how you can subscribe to that service. And that brings us to the end of the first episode of our new GA podcast. I hope you've enjoyed it, we have covered a broad range of topics within this session. And that really is the objective of this new platform to look at the range and breadth that is general aviation in the UK. If you have any suggestions of topics or items that you'd like to hear more about perhaps different parts of GA then please do get in touch. The best way to do that is via a dedicated email which is GApodcast@caa.co.uk it'd be great to hear your thoughts and any suggestions that you have. In terms of today's episode, we do have a number of links and subject areas that we've included in the notes. So please feel free to have a look at these, for example, the B3 license and the camo surveys are there as well. If you'd like to get involved in those activities, our next podcast will be delivered mid summer time towards the end of July beginning of August. And I hope that you'll be able to join us next time and thank you for listening


Thanks for listening. This is the CAA General Aviation podcast.

Listen for free

Show artwork for CAA on General Aviation

About the Podcast

CAA on General Aviation
The General Aviation podcast brings you the latest guidance from the UK Civil Aviation Authority with information for all types of General Aviation (GA) operating in the UK. Including updates and discussions on our current projects and areas of work.

You’ll hear interviews with representatives from our GA teams, experts on their particular fields, sharing details of their work and regulatory updates as well as highlighting opportunities for members of the UK GA community to get involved.

About your host

Profile picture for UK Civil Aviation Authority .

UK Civil Aviation Authority .

The UK's aviation regulator