David Learmount/LONDON

The UK's airline bosses are to be told by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) what is the most likely cause of their companies' next fatal accident. The unprecedented safety warning - to come at a meeting scheduled for 19 March - is aimed at ensuring the airlines act now to prevent the incidents ever happening.

Rivals like British Airways' chief executive Bob Ayling, Virgin Atlantic's owner Richard Branson and British Midland's chairman Sir Michael Bishop will sit down together at the CAA's Gatwick Safety Regulation Group headquarters to be briefed on "safety focus areas", says the Authority.

The briefing will be based on an exhaustive CAA study of modern airline accidents in the UK and the rest of the world. The CAA's dramatic tactics reflect policies adopted by the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration to set their priorities for an attack on the causes of air accidents.

Although the "focus areas" for the UK airline chiefs will become clear only at the briefing, they will be related to the JAA's Joint Safety Strategy Initiative, which lists the accident risks, in priority order, as:

Controlled flight into terrain; Approach and landing accidents; Loss of control; Design-related accidents; Weather-related accidents; Occupant safety and survivability.

The CAA's design and production standards division head, Michael Bell, says it is not effective to update safety regulations unless the heads of industry fully appreciate the rationale behind them.

Source: Flight International