1.0 General Information

1.1  Purpose

The purpose of this staff instruction is to provide Inspectors with the information, procedures and guidelines necessary to process an application and issue a Special Flight Operations Certificate - for the operation of an aircraft while conducting aerobatic manoeuvres in or into controlled airspace or an air route as required by Part VI, Subpart 3, Division IV, Miscellaneous Special Flight Operations of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs).

This staff instruction has been prepared in line with the functional authority and direction given by the Headquarters Special Flight Operations division which is the delegated Functional Specialist for Special Flight Operations. It will ensure common application of policies, directives, standards and procedures within Transport Canada. This staff instruction will aid Headquarters and Regional staff by providing guidelines and advice in their activities with regard to national policies, directives and standards. Please ensure that all personnel, directly or indirectly concerned with Special Flight Operations are informed and apply these procedures as contained in this staff instruction.

Recommendations for improvements or questions pertaining to the information contained in this staff instruction should be forwarded to the Special Flight Operations division of the General Aviation branch:

6th Floor, Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street,
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0N8

1.2  Reference Material

Canadian Aviation Regulations:

  • Part VI, Subpart 2 - Operating and Flight Rules
  • Part VI, Subpart 3 - Special Flight Operations

General Operating and Flight Rules Standards 623 - Special Flight Operations - Division IV

1.3  Background

The requirement for a person to be in possession of a SFOC to conduct aerobatic flight in controlled airspace or an air route is a carry over of the old Air Regulation 517(c). In the development of the CARs it was recognised that operation of aircraft conducting aerobatic flight in controlled airspace was not "magic" and simply required proper co-ordination with the appropriate controlling agency. It was also recognised that having persons apply to Transport Canada Civil Aviation to pre-co-ordinate the activity was time consuming, an unnecessary burden on the public and that the involvement of the Transport Canada Civil Aviation in the process did not add any safety benefit to the activity. In the initial draft of CARs the requirement for any written authorisation was removed in favour of having the pilot obtain a clearance for the activity from the appropriate controlling agency. Just prior to the publication of the CARs, concerns were raised over the use of the word "clearance" and the decision was made to revert to the requirements of 517(c) and draft the regulations and standards as they exist now.

Under the old the system of issuing authorisations pursuant to Air Regulation 517(c), we tended to "over regulate" by adding operating conditions of a "motherhood" nature by restating existing regulations to address what was perceived by many as a dangerous activity. It must be remembered that aerobatic manoeuvres carried out in an aircraft that has been designed and approved for aerobatic flight are not dangerous. They are simply an aerodynamic reaction to a control input or series of control inputs made by the pilot. As you can see by reading the following general operating rules contained in Subpart 2 of CARs, except for co-ordinating the activity with the appropriate controlling agency, the safety concerns have been addressed.

602.01  Reckless or Negligent Operation of Aircraft

No person shall operate an aircraft in such a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger the life or property of any person.

602.07  Aircraft Operating Limitations

No person shall operate an aircraft unless it is operated in accordance with the operating limitations

  1. set out in the aircraft flight manual, where an aircraft flight manual is required by the applicable standards of airworthiness;

  2. set out in a document other than the aircraft flight manual, where use of that document is authorised pursuant to Part VII;

602.21  Avoidance of Collision

No person shall operate an aircraft in such proximity to another aircraft as to create a risk of collision.

602.27  Aerobatic Manoeuvres - Prohibited Areas and Flight Conditions

No person operating an aircraft shall conduct aerobatic manoeuvres

  1. over a built-up area or an open-air assembly of persons;

b. when flight visibility is less than three miles; or

602.28  Aerobatic Manoeuvres with Passengers

No person operating an aircraft with a passenger on board shall conduct an aerobatic manoeuvre unless the pilot-in-command of the aircraft has engaged in

  1. at least 10 hours dual flight instruction in the conducting of aerobatic manoeuvres or 20 hours conducting aerobatic manoeuvres; and

  2. at least one hour of conducting aerobatic manoeuvres in the preceding six months.

As is the case with parachute descents in or into controlled airspace, it is our intent to continue to work with the ANS and Airspace Branch and Nav Canada to amend the CARs to remove the requirement for the issue of a SFOC to carry out aerobatic manoeuvres in controlled airspace.

Immediately after the implementation of the CARs, we received requests for clarification of the requirements from air show performers and members of aerobatic clubs who required access to controlled airspace to practice and remain current. In consultation with Nav Canada, and the ANS and Airspace Branch, HQ a process was developed for the issue of SFOC's for this activity. It also became apparent that in the development of the CARs and standards certain areas of applicability were omitted, namely the requirement for Civil Aviation Inspectors whose duties include aerobatic flight tests, and Flight Training Units. An amendment is being processed to section 602.27(b) to include Flight Training Units.

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