6.1 NAFTA Advisory

Background

Ratified by Canada, the United Mexican States and the United States of America, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force on January 1, 1994. Among other things, NAFTA opened up cross-border trade in specialty air services (SAS), defined in art. 1213 of NAFTA as aerial mapping, aerial surveying, aerial photography, forest fire management, fire fighting, aerial advertising, glider towing, parachute jumping, aerial construction, heli-logging, aerial sightseeing, flight training, aerial inspection and surveillance, and aerial spraying services. The effective date of NAFTA coverage for some of these services was January 1, 1994, while coverage for other services was to be phased in for each signatory country in accordance with Annex B to NAFTA.

Meetings of government officials led to the issuance of a joint statement establishing Working Groups "to discuss standards and regulations pertaining to specialty air services" and began a process for the "smooth implementation" of SAS operations. Representatives from the three civil aviation authorities (CAAs) formed a Steering Committee to provide leadership during the process, and technical experts from each country constituted Working Groups covering the areas of airworthiness, flight operations and personnel licensing. This document identifies the process resulting from the efforts of the Steering Committee and Working Groups.

Applicability

This advisory material applies to operators in each NAFTA signatory country that wish to conduct a cross-border SAS, as defined in art. 1213 of NAFTA. This information is exclusive to NAFTA SAS operations and is not to be used for any other purpose.

Glossary

The following CAAs are referenced in this document:

  • the Dirección General de Aeronàutica Civil (DGAC) - Mexico;
  • the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) - United States of America; and
  • Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) - Canada

National CAA:  The CAA responsible for the regulatory control of an operator when it applies for operating authority in another NAFTA country. The national CAA will normally be the same as the state of registry for the aircraft and will be responsible for the regulatory oversight of aircraft on its register, including, but not limited to, maintenance and inspection requirements.

Host CAA:  The CAA of a NAFTA country in which cross-border SAS are being conducted.

Operator:  The organization engaged in a Commercial SAS operation.

Flight Training is a term that applies to the following:

  • Certified Flight Schools:  Those schools that hold an operating permit or certificate issued by the CAA to conduct approved training for any pilot qualification.
  • Flight Training Operators:  Those operators conducting training for an agricultural rating, a seaplane rating, a multi-engine rating, a type rating, an instrument rating, an airline transport pilot licence, or currency requirements.
  • SAS Operators:  Those operators conducting specific operational training for a particular SAS. Type-rating training may be included if the aircraft is used in that specific operation and is specified on the air operator certificate or the NAFTA operating authority.
Definition of SAS

The following is a list of SAS identified by NAFTA and shall include any other special-purpose operations determined by the three CAAs to have similar characteristics.

NAFTA SAS are specialized commercial aviation operations involving the performance of the following:

Aerial Mapping:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of mapping by use of a camera, or other measuring and recording devices.

Aerial Surveying:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of surveying by use of a camera, or other measuring and recording devices.

Aerial Photography:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of taking photographs or recording information by use of a camera, or other measuring and recording devices.

Forest Fire Management:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of fire detection and control, dispensing any substance intended for forest fire suppression and prevention. This does not include carrying fire fighters.

Fire Fighting:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of dispensing water, chemicals, and fire retardants intended for suppressing a fire.

Aerial Advertising:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of skywriting, banner towing, displaying airborne signs, dispensing leaflets, and making public address announcements.

Glider Towing:  The towing of a glider by a powered aircraft equipped with a tow hitch.

Parachute Jumping:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of allowing a person to descend from that aircraft in flight using a parachute during all or part of that descent.

Aerial Construction:  The operation of a rotorcraft for the purpose of conducting external-load operations in support of construction, hoisting of utilities, power line construction and erection of special purpose towers.

Heli-Logging:  The operation of a rotorcraft for the purpose of transporting timber suspended from the fuselage.

Aerial Sightseeing:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of providing recreation to passengers which originates and terminates at the same airport.

Flight Training:  Training provided by certified flight schools and flight training operators who follow an approved ground and flight syllabus which permits students to meet all certification requirements for obtaining an airman certificate or rating, and operational training provided by SAS operators.

Aerial Surveillance and Inspection:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of conducting aerial observation and patrols for surface events and objects.

Aerial Spraying:  The operation of an aircraft for the purpose of dispensing any chemicals, materials or substances for the benefit of agriculture, horticulture and forestry. The specific type of aerial spraying would include those applications intended for plant nourishment, soil treatment, propagation of plant life, pest control, but not including the dispensing of live insects.

Recommended List of Publications
  • Annex 2 to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Convention on International Civil Aviation
  • Aeronautical Information Publication (A.I.P.) Canada - Canada
  • Publication de Informatión Aeronáutique (PIA) - Mexico
  • Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)/Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) - United States
NAFTA Cross-Border SAS Operations

General Requirements

Validity

  • A NAFTA authorization, unless amended, suspended or revoked, will normally be valid for a maximum of one year and can be renewed. The renewal process will be the same as the original authorization process.

Authorization Process

  • The SAS operator must be equipped and able to operate in each of the SAS applied for, apply for and obtain authorization from the national CAA, apply for and obtain authorization from the host CAA(s), and make application in the official language(s) of the host country.

Operational Conditions

Aircraft

  • The current and valid certificate of airworthiness and certificate of registration are required from the national CAA. The operator must provide the national CAA with proof of the validity of the documents.
  • Aircraft must have an original FAA or TCCA civil type certificate for all SAS operations. Ex-military aircraft that have restricted-category certification based on military experience only are not eligible, while those that are operating as civil types may be eligible, provided that they meet civil standards and are in civil type configuration.
  • Foreign (third-country) type-certified aircraft must have both an FAA and a TCCA type certificate.
  • Changes in type designs (that is, supplemental type certificates or repair design certificates) issued by third countries on their own designs and manufactured products will be acceptable, provided that there is a bilateral airworthiness agreement or the equivalent with either the FAA or TCCA that specifically addresses design standards.
  • Primary-category aircraft will not be used for flight training. Standard-category airworthiness certificates will normally be required, except as otherwise approved by the host CAA. SAS operators may conduct operational training in aircraft that are approved for the particular SAS.

SAS Operations

  • As required by Annex 2 to the ICAO Convention, operators must comply with the general operating and flight rules of the host country. Operators should be aware that there are significant differences in the visual flight rules for each country.
  • Operators must deal with government agencies including customs, trade and commerce, immigration, and environment, and other applicable agencies as necessary.
  • The SAS operator must contact the host CAA(s) (See Appendix III) prior to commencing initial SAS operations in each geographic area, upon changing the type of SAS operation being conducted, or upon subsequently returning to the original geographic area.
  • Operators based in one host country and operating in another host country require authorization from each host CAA.
  • As a minimum, a current and valid commercial pilot licence issued by the national CAA is required for the specific operation.
  • Flight instruction towards the issuance of national CAA licences, permits and ratings may be conducted in any host country by a person who holds a valid commercial pilot licence or flight instructor rating, as applicable for the type of instructional activity, and who satisfies the requirements of the national CAA.
  • Flight instruction towards the issuance of host CAA licences, permits and ratings may be conducted in any host country by a person who holds a valid commercial pilot licence or flight instructor rating, as applicable for the type of instructional activity, and who satisfies additional requirements specified by the applicable host CAA. (see Appendix IV).
  • Flight-training operating authority will be granted to certified flight schools, flight training operators and SAS operators according to the conditions specified by the host CAA.
  • Agricultural aircraft may be operated at an increased maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) if an increased MTOW has been authorized by the national CAA and the increase does not exceed 1.25 times the MTOW
  • Maintenance shall be performed in accordance with the requirements of the national CAA.
  • Sightseeing operations shall be conducted by operators certificated by their national CAA for commercial passenger-carrying operations.
  • The movement of essential personnel from base camp to a fire zone is not deemed to be air transportation, nor is the movement of essential personnel from one base camp to another to continue fire fighting. These are operational necessities included under SAS for fire-fighting purposes.

Specific Requirements

For Operations in Canada

  • Operators must provide TCCA with the name of the appropriately approved maintenance organization facility(ies) where maintenance will be performed.
  • Proof of insurance must be carried on board the aircraft (see Appendix VI).
  • Operators must comply with the Flight and Duty Limitations regulations and standards requirements applicable to the operations to be conducted. (see CAR 700.15 and CASS 720.15)
  • Operators must comply with the survival-equipment requirements applicable to the operations to be conducted (see Appendix V).

Mexican flight schools must designate a qualified flight instructor responsible for operational control. Operators must identify to TCCA the type of inspection or maintenance program being used for each aircraft type (i.e. progressive, annual) at 100-hour intervals, or according to the manufacturer's recommended program or an approved program.)

For Operations in Mexico

  • Operators must provide the DGAC with the name of the appropriately rated repair station(s) where maintenance will be performed.
  • The PIA must be used for all operations and carried on board the aircraft.
  • Proof of Insurance must be provided with the application before a permit can be issued and must be carried on board the aircraft (see Appendix VI).
  • Operations will be conducted from approved runways or sites, unless otherwise authorized.
  • A special permit must be obtained for handling fuel other than at approved fuelling facilities.
  • Operators must participate in alcohol- and drug-testing programs when conducting SAS operations.
  • Operators must comply with the survival-equipment requirements applicable to the operations conducted (see Appendix V).
  • All night flights under visual flight rules must have a special authorization.
  • Flight training schools must obtain a public education certificate or a letter of authorization from the Secretaria de Educación Pública to teach ground school.
  • In addition to the DGAC authorization, operators of SAS (aerial photography, aerial surveying, and aerial mapping) must obtain permission from the Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional.

For Operations in the United States

  • Operators must participate in alcohol- and drug-testing programs when conducting sightseeing operations from a base in the United States (see Appendix III).
  • The maintenance and alteration of emergency parachutes must be certified by a person authorized by the FAA.
  • Department of Transportation Order 97-7-03 (Specialty Air Service Operators of Canada and Mexico) must be carried aboard the Aircraft.
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