Sir - I refer to the letter "CAA licence to overcharge is simply not on" (Flight International, 19-25 June, P39).

While I commiserate with David Leggett, he may be getting off lightly. Like some engineers, many UK aircrew look to the US Federal Aviation Administration for fairness when it comes to charges compared to the fees required by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Charges made by the CAA include £262 ($390) for the issue of an Air Transport Pilots' Licence (ATPL) every ten years, even though there is no longer a photograph on the licence. That, of course, is in addition to £562 for the written exams.

A particularly galling charge is that of £81, just for someone at the CAA to read one's log book. To borrow a CAA flight examiner for a general flight test costs £502, with a top rate of £2,510 in the case of expense incurred by the authority. In comparison, the FAA ATPL is for life, and I do not recall paying a fee for its issue. The written exams cost me £12, and that charge was made only because I was a foreign national taking the exams at a US base in Germany. There was no charge for the reading of my log book.

No wonder the general-aviation business in the UK is going down the drain, and it will probably continue to do so as long as aircrew and engineers are overcharged and required to subsidise the CAA.

If the CAA flightcrew licensing department considers itself an executive agency which must pay its way on the back of licence holders, then I wish them healthy competition. Roll on worldwide licence parity and acceptance.

-Sir - David Leggett's letter highlights an interesting topic. Quite apart from the high charges mentioned, how many "A", "E" and "M" organisations are satisfied with the support they receive from the Authority in return for those fees? It appears to us that individual surveyors wield excessive power when it comes to interpreting regulations.

When approached for advice on a recent incident, the General Aviation Manufacturers and Traders Association recommended that we should invoke the "Citizens' Charter". We would prefer the soft approach, but may yet have to act on that advice.

We would like to hear about the experiences of other companies - from men and women in the "front line" - who have regular contact with the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

NLA: what about the passengers?

Sir - I have read about the costs to airport operators of the feasibility of converting gates to accommodate the New Large Aircraft (Letters, Flight International, 19-25 June, P39).

Has any research been conducted with the prospective passenger?

While I do not doubt that this aircraft will be as safe as any other flying today and, from a personal viewpoint, I would not object to travelling in one, can the authorities convince me that the wait for baggage is worth the additional seat-kilometre saving on the air fare?

In the case of the US authorities, will I really enjoy the extra wait to clear US Immigration formalities while queuing with many of my fellow passengers?

Source: Flight International