What being rated ‘outstanding’ by the Civil Aviation Authority actually means

2nd March 2020

The last few years have witnessed a step-change in attitudes towards aviation security training, with the introduction of the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) Quality Assurance Framework. Maria Harnett, head of training for aviation services at Wilson James, examines its impact and why being rated ‘outstanding’ rubberstamps the company’s credentials in this important area.

Think of places that have security high on the agenda and I would bet that, for most people, airports are near the top of the list. Security checks, extensive CCTV, passport control, hand baggage rules and restrictions, physical checks, biometric scans and a comprehensive list of prohibited items all add up to create an experience that has become progressively more invasive. Although sometimes inconvenient, and occasionally frustrating, the reasons for these rules are completely understandable, as terrorists and others with malicious intent will exploit poor security policies.

Time for Change

According to the annual World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) report global air traffic is set to grow at a rate of 3.7 per cent per annum, creating 19.7 billion passengers by 2040. Therefore, the need for highly efficient and effective security systems is increasingly important in order to protect people from known and emerging threats to the international aviation infrastructure.

It might seem strange then that given the focus on protecting airport staff and passengers, the need to ensure a high standard of training amongst security personnel in these environments has only relatively recently come under greater scrutiny. Although security requirements were previously directed by government and performance monitored by regulatory bodies, it was only in November 2017 and May 2018 that the CAA announced consultations into its proposal to develop a Quality Assurance Framework that would create a baseline quality standard for aviation security training providers.

Better late than never though, and the Quality Assurance Framework launched on the 1st April 2019. On its introduction, Peter Drissell, director of CAA Aviation Security, stated, ‘It is about taking a systemic approach to managing aviation security, in ways which serve to instil security in the routine daily activities of an organisation, and indeed in its very culture.’

Quality street

Now all Department for Transport (DfT) instructors must be linked to a training provider and work towards implementing quality assurance. The two key elements are the registration of a training provider, and the self-assessment and external auditing process.

Training providers have to use the self-assessment form to review and assess their own training provision against the standards specification document. After completion, the CAA conducts an external quality assurance visit, using the completed self-assessment report forms and a quality assurance visit report form. These visits are phased in over time and depend on which syllabuses the training provider delivers.

Once this information is collated and reviewed, aviation security training providers are awarded one of four ratings – ‘requires improvement’, ‘good’, ‘good with outstanding features’, and ‘outstanding’. Having gone through this rigorous process Wilson James is delighted to be rated ‘outstanding’.

So far, so outstanding

For over 25 years we have provided security services for customers such as Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, London Luton Airport, Belfast International Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Delivering tailored training packages both internally and externally, our courses include aviation ground security operative (GSO), aviation ground security supervisor (GSS), aviation security manager course (ASM), as well as aviation security management, threat assessor training, ground security management, airport supplies and general security awareness training. We are also flexible about where and when we deliver courses – working with customers to configure the most suitable location and content, based on delegate profile.


With our people focused vision, we use our vast experience to offer individuals the highest level of training and skills development. Just as importantly, all of our instructors come from an aviation security background and have vast operational experience to draw on – something that provides an unrivalled level of insight and which course attendees find invaluable.

On your marks

It is vital that aviation security professionals are fully aware of the latest international security standards, up to date with crisis management and risk assessment best practices, and can demonstrate excellent standards of management – skills that can only be gained by working with a high quality aviation security training provider. Receiving an ‘outstanding’ rating from the CAA marks Wilson James out as one of an elite group of companies that can do this and makes us even more determined to develop our presence in the aviation sector by training security personnel who have customer service, attentiveness and scrutiny as their guiding principles. We look forward to building on the success of this accreditation throughout 2020 and beyond.

To find out more about Aviation Training at Wilson James, follow the link below: