As we celebrate this year’s Social Enterprise Day on Thursday 16th November, we’re excited to shed light on the remarkable contributions of social enterprises to our communities and the world at large. In this spirit, our Head of International Operations, Clair Borrelli, showcases the distinctive journey of CAA International (CAAi), the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s very own social enterprise, and our continued impact on global aviation.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “social enterprise”, social enterprises are effectively businesses that go beyond conventional profit-driven models, prioritising social and environmental missions to drive positive change while still maintaining financial sustainability.

Social enterprises, such as The Big Issue, Divine Chocolate, and the Eden Project, leverage commerce’s power to address critical issues like poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. In the United Kingdom alone, over 100,000 social enterprises contribute £60 billion to the economy and employ nearly a million people.

Raising aviation standards through social enterprise

In a world constantly on the move, aviation plays a vital role, connecting people and places, creating opportunities, and promoting an innovative, sustainable future. But across the world, the aviation industry faces unique challenges. Challenges that impact the lives of millions.

In response to these challenges, CAAi underwent a transformative journey in 2017, evolving into a registered social enterprise. This shift involved a profound revitalisation of our core vision, mission, and purpose to more closely align and harmonise with that of the UK CAA. Our unwavering commitment to improving aviation and aerospace standards across the globe now sits at the heart of everything we do.

This strategic move has enabled the UK CAA to financially support many awe-inspiring initiatives in the UK and overseas in pursuit of better aviation standards for all and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Clair Borrelli
By Clair Borrelli

Head of International Operations

As a social enterprise, CAAi is committed to reinvesting 50% of its profits from our advisory services, e-tools and training. This enables the UK CAA, through CAAi, to fund aviation development programmes worldwide – driving change where it is needed most.

With CAAi’s remaining profit, a further 25% goes back into the CAA to fund other organisation-wide initiatives. The final 25% is held in reserves for financial stability. Essentially, raising funds through commerce to drive positive change guides our every action and initiative.

Our impact as a social enterprise

Since our social enterprise inception, CAAi has invested in 22 social good programmes globally. Notable initiatives include sponsoring a Malaysian aviation medical student, Dr. Ling Seow Ng, through his PhD, with the goal of establishing a Malaysian aeromedical institute. Moreover, in partnership with ICAO, CAAi funded aerodrome certification training in Southeast Asia and Africa, addressing the urgent need to enhance aerodrome certification and ICAO compliance in developing countries.

Dr. Ling Seow Ng receiving his scholarship

Photo: Dr. Ling Seow Ng receiving a $20,000 PhD scholarship in 2017

Closer to home, CAAi is committed to supporting the UK’s Resilient Pilot Programme. Resilient Pilot is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers free mentoring, peer support and training to help pilots and cabin crew stay current and connected with the airline industry. With £50,000 pledged in the last two years, 40 positions on the programme were funded by CAAi. Results from the programme’s participants underscored its success, with a positive increase in average competency grades and several pilots securing employment as First Officers.

How does CAAi allocate funding to social good programmes?

CAAi follows  clear criteria to guide our reinvestment initiatives and ensure our activities stay true to our vision, mission, and purpose. This includes:

  • Alignment to the UK CAA’s overarching strategy, specifically the vision, purpose, values, and priorities.
  • Benefits to aviation safety, security, consumer protection and the environment.
  • Provides benefits to a wide audience wherever possible and appropriate.
  • Supports ICAO No Country Left Behind principles.
  • Supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Benefits those countries where it will make the biggest difference. This generally relates to countries where the Level of Effective Implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices falls below the global average.
Aerodrome certification training in Asia

Photo: In 2018, ICAO and CAAi delivered fully funded Aerodrome Certification training in South East Asia

Do you have an idea that may benefit from our reinvestment fund? We’d love to hear from you.

As we look forward, we’re excited to re-invigorate our reinvestment initiatives and take our impact as a social enterprise to a whole new level.

As we celebrate National Social Enterprise Day, we invite everyone from across the global aviation community to be part of our ongoing impact. If you have any ideas or know of worthy initiatives that may benefit from our support, please contact us to discuss further. Your suggestions could foster positive change in the aviation industry and beyond.

Join us in shaping a more sustainable and connected world through the power of social enterprise.

For further details and media enquiries, please contact:

Stuart Coates
International Marketing & Communications
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