Regulations and You Regulations and You

Update on Passenger-Carrying Commercial Balloon Operations in Canada

by Flight Standards Division, Standards Branch, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

Prior to the implementation of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) in 1996, balloon operators offering rides to fare-paying passengers were not subject to the requirements of Air Regulations, Part 700. In 1993, Transport Canada formally recognized the operation of balloons in Canada for the purpose of carrying fare-paying passengers. Following direct consultation with members of the ballooning community, a series of exemptions to the affected sections of the Air Regulations and an authorization were issued. The authorization contained a series of schedules that formed part of the exemption, with specific conditions that a balloon operator had to meet to ensure compliance with the exemptions.

With the implementation of the CARs in 1996, the conditions of the exemptions and authorization issued in 1993 were formalized in Part VI, Subpart 3 – Special Flight Operations, Division II – Balloons with Fare-paying Passengers. Under this regulatory structure, balloon operators carrying fare-paying passengers are required to obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate and comply with the applicable standards. The standards outline requirements for balloon maintenance, crew member qualifications and passenger briefings.

Presently there are approximately 92 holders of Special Flight Operations Certificates – Balloons with Fare-paying passengers in Canada. There is no requirement to track the number of passengers carried, thus the estimated annual number of passengers carried, obtained unofficially from operators, varies from 12 000 to over 20 000.

From 1996 to 2008, there were a total of 84 incidents and 21 accidents involving balloons recorded in the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS) database.

Following two serious balloon accidents in August 2007, Transport Canada, in 2008, carried out a risk assessment (RA) of the current regulatory structure pertaining to the carriage of fare-paying passengers in balloons. The main objectives of the RA, as outlined in the Terms of Reference (TOR) were:

  • To assess the adequacy of Transport Canada’s current safety oversight program for this activity.
  • To examine all risks associated with fare-paying balloon operations.
  • To identify an appropriate strategy and responsibility center for oversight of this activity to improve safety and reduce risks in the operation.

The RA team determined that the current regulatory structure “[...]was adequate but the departmental direction for monitoring the activity, albeit low risk, is somewhat lacking.” The RA also contained recommendations that the team felt could improve safety and reduce risks in the operation of balloons with fare-paying passengers.

Upon completion of their investigation into the accidents, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada recommended that, “the Department of Transport ensure that passenger-carrying commercial balloon operations provide a level of safety equivalent to that established for other aircraft of equal passenger-carrying capacity.”

An issue paper, Regulation of Balloons with Fare Paying Passengers, was presented at the Civil Aviation Regulation Advisory Council Technical Committee meeting
November 2-6, 2009. Valuable information was heard from stakeholders to determine the way forward.

A proposal to approve the formation of a CARAC Working Group was presented at the June 2010 Civil Aviation Regulatory Committee (CARC) meeting. At the Civil Aviation Regulation Advisory Council Technical Committee meeting in November 2010, the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Balloons with Fare-paying Passengers Working Group was finalized and the members were confirmed. The Working Group will use the 2008 risk assessment findings, in addition to examining industry best practices to make recommendations to the Technical Committee for regulatory changes or make recommendations to utilize any non-regulatory instruments to promote the safe operation of balloons with fare-paying passengers. The TOR for the working group outlines the purpose of the group as:

“The purpose of this new Balloons with Fare-Paying Passengers Working Group is to make recommendations on how to best provide an adequate level of safety to the public involved in sightseeing activities. This may include recommending amendments to existing regulations and standards and introducing new regulations and standards for balloon operations. These recommendations will require justifications since they will ultimately serve as the basis for Transport Canada to develop the Notices of Proposed Amendments (NPAs) that will be presented to the CARAC Technical Committee.”

The TOR further defines the working group’s direction with the following:


The Working Group will make recommendations on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Conditions for issuance of a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC);
  • Safety Management System (SMS);
  • Review existing operating regulations and standards for applicability to large envelopes, large baskets and large companies;
  • Flight crew training, experience, currency and licensing;
  • Ground crew training;
  • Basket safety personnel;
  • Passenger safety briefings;
  • Flight planning;
  • Flight information (altitude, airspace, weather information limitations);
  • Safety equipment on board; and
  • Any other topic identified by the Working Group that needs to be addressed to promote the safe operation of balloons with fare-paying passengers.”

To date, the Working Group has held two meetings via teleconference. The Working Group will present an interim report/update at the September 2011 CARAC Technical Committee meeting. The final report will be presented at the following CARAC Technical Committee meeting. 

Business Aviation: Transport Canada Taking Back Certification and Surveillance Authority

by Arlo Speer, Chief, Commercial Flight Standards, Standards, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

On March 16, 2010, Transport Canada (TC) announced that as of April 1, 2011, it would take back all responsibility for the certification and oversight of business aviation in Canada from the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA).

TC has always been responsible for regulatory safety oversight of the CBAA Private Operator Certificate (POC) program and the CBAA. Because certification and oversight of air operators is a core responsibility of TC, it was confirmed, after review, that these activities should not be conducted by the private sector for business aviation.

This transfer brings together all aspects of business aviation regulation, certification and safety monitoring into one organization: TC. This means greater consistency and an opportunity to identify common strategies to improve the already high level of safety found across the aviation industry.

The Transition Process

To facilitate this transition, a Transport Canada Civil Aviation Private Operator Program Steering Committee was created to coordinate and direct all activities required to ensure a straightforward transition from the Canada Business Aviation Association Private Operator Certificate program to a Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA)-managed program, and to design and implement a framework for the new TCCA private operator program for the oversight of Canadian private operators.

To formalize the transition between CBAA and TCCA, the department issued, at no charge, Transport Canada Private Operator Certificates to operators who hold a valid CBAA Private Operator Certificate and comply with the conditions specified in that CBAA certificate. This allowed TC to provide operators with a Temporary Operator Certificate in April 2011.

On April 1, 2011, an interim order issued by the Minister of Transport came into effect. The interim order replaced current regulations found in Subpart 604 (624) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) and addressed only those operators holding a CBAA Private Operator Certificate.

The development of new regulations for the long-term operation of aircraft under Subpart 604 of the CARs has continued and will be published, for consultation, in Canada Gazette, Part I, later this year.

The transition will progress until March 31, 2013, at which time the new regulations will replace the interim order and address all aspects of private aircraft operations. At this time, all private operators will need to hold Transport Canada Private Operator Certificates and comply with the Subpart 604.

Throughout this transition process, business aviation operators continue to be responsible for compliance with existing regulatory requirements and certifications.

Although business air operations are not available to the public at large, this sector is regulated under sections of the CARs due to the sophistication of the aircraft being operated. Canada is the only country that requires business aviation operators to hold an operator certificate for business aviation. The regulatory requirements for business aircraft in Canada have been in place since 1983. The new regulations in Subpart 604 are patterned after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for corporate aviation operations.

Contact Information

Transport Canada Regional Offices are responsible for ongoing certification and surveillance.

For specific service or oversight questions, please contact the regional office closest to your company headquarters.

Atlantic Region

Ontario Region
(416) 952-0230

Pacific Region
(604) 666-3518

Prairie and Northern Region
(204) 983-3152

Quebec Region
(514) 633-3030

For general information, please contact the Civil Aviation Communications Centre at:
613-993-7284 / 1-800-305-2059


Treaty Training Coming Soon

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)/ Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) Treaty is an agreement on civil aviation safety between the European Community and Canada, primarily focused on issues related to the certification of aeronautical products, design approvals, continued airworthiness, and maintenance. With ratification of the new TCCA/EASA Treaty expected to happen soon, Transport Canada is planning on offering training to introduce the changes. To find out more, please visit

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