Section Two - Reviewing an Application

Regulatory Background

Section 603.01 of the CARs prohibits the conduct of special aviation events unless the provisions of a special flight operations certificate - special aviation event are complied with.

Section 603.02 states the requirement for an application to be submitted in the form and manner required by the Special Flight Operations Standards. It also states that once the application is received and the applicant demonstrates the ability to conduct the event in accordance with the Special Flight Operations Standards, the Minister shall issue the special flight operations certificate to conduct the event.

Section 623.02 of the Standards outlines the information that constitutes an application for the Special Flight Operations Certificate. An application form specific to this request has not been produced and is not planned. An applicant may submit the required information in any format he or she chooses.

Section 603.05 of the CARs prohibits the conduct of a special aviation event unless a person has a management organization that (a) is capable of exercising supervision and operational control over (i) persons attending the special aviation event, (ii) any flight that is to be operated at the special aviation event; and (b) meets the Special Flight Operations Standards.

Section 623.05 of the Standards offers a suggested but not mandatory management organization that meets the requirement of 603.05 above. Although an applicant may opt for a different management structure, the responsibilities and duties listed in the standards are mandatory and must be met.

Section 603.06 - Participant Qualifications of the CARs prohibits the operation of an aircraft in a special aviation event unless a person meets the eligibility requirements specified in the Special Flight Operations Standards and unless that person is authorized to do so in a special flight operations certificate - special aviation event.

Section 623.06 - Participant and Aircraft Eligibility of the Standards outlines the requirements pilots and aircraft must meet to be eligible to be authorized to participate in a special aviation event.

Section 603.07 - Distance or Altitude from Spectators of the CARs prohibits operation of an aircraft in a special aviation event at a distance from, or at an altitude above, a spectator enclosure or unofficial secondary spectator area, where that distance or altitude is less than the minimum specified in the Special Flight Operations Standards.

Section 623.07 of the Standards lists and defines the minimum safety distances, both horizontal and vertical, which must be maintained between aircraft in flight and the primary spectator area, secondary spectator areas, built-up areas, and occupied building(s) during Special Aviation Events. It also contains the standards by which aircraft shall be operated at Special Aviation Events in Canada.

Section 603.08 - Weather Conditions of the CARs prohibits operation of an aircraft in a special aviation event in weather conditions below the minimum conditions published in the Standards.

Section 623.08 of the Standards contains the minimum weather limits and the provision to increase or decrease the minimum for specific event sites.

Section 603.09 - Participant Briefing of the CARs prohibits a person from operating an aircraft in a special aviation event without receiving a participant briefing that meets the Standards.

Section 623.09 - Participant's Briefing of the Standards outlines the minimum requirements for a participant's briefing.


The staff instructions contained in this document apply to all applications to conduct a Special Aviation Event required by the definition of "air show" as contained in the interpretation section of the Special Flight Operations and Procedures - Division I - Chapter One (Air Shows). It is important to note that often what is deemed a "fly-in" by an applicant is in fact an "air show" by definition.


All applications to conduct an air show must be reviewed to ensure the standards and procedures contained in the Standards are met and can be adhered to by an applicant. The Standards contain the minimum regulatory spectator safety distances for the placement of show lines from spectator areas, minimum qualifications for participants, standards for manoeuvres flown towards the crowd, etc. Determination of whether an application meets the minimum standards must be made by cross-reference to the Special Flight Operations Standards - Division I - Chapter One (Air Shows).

The requirement for 60 days advance notice is intended to provide Transport Canada officials with sufficient time to review an application and supporting documentation and carry out the required co-ordination early to eliminate the need for last minute action by an applicant to meet requirements. It is not the intent of this staff instruction to direct regional staff not to process an application when an application is received with less than 60 days notice. Should an application arrive at a regional office in less than the normal required timeframe but can be processed accurately and completely without straining existing resources and work schedules, the service should be provided with a reminder to the client that 60 days notice will be required in future.

Using the Canadian Aviation Regulations - Division I - Special Aviation Events, Special Flight Operations Standards and Procedures - Division I - Chapter One (Air Shows) and this staff instruction as reference, an Inspector must review an application as outlined below.

Application and Supporting Documentation

  1. Confirm the information contained in the application submission is complete. All the information required by subsection 623.02(1) of the Standards must be evident.
  2. Verify the site diagram is current and contains the information listed in paragraph 623.02(1)(f) of the Standards. Any omission of information or details shall be brought to the applicants' attention and corrected as soon as possible.
  3. Ensure all the information required in paragraphs 623.02(3)(a) to (h) of the Standards has been submitted.

Site Diagram

The site diagram submitted must be reviewed carefully to confirm:

  1. the requirements of subsection 623.07(2) - Show Lines of the Standards are met.
  2. the spectator safety distances (crowd separation from show lines) meet the requirements of section 623.07 of the Standards for the category of aircraft planned to participate in the event. Attention must be paid to the scale of the diagram submitted to accurately determine the distances between primary spectator areas and show lines and secondary spectator areas, etc. When buildings or public roads lie within the minimum spectator safety distances, the details of planned road closures, proof of agreements to vacate buildings must be obtained from the applicant.
  3. If the review of the site diagram indicates insufficient room is available to meet the requirements of section 623.07 of the Standards for the category of aircraft proposed to participate in the event, the Inspector shall advise the applicant as soon as possible to allow the applicant to design a new site lay-out or amend the proposed flight program. It is most important to review the site diagram early should the site not be suitable for the planned event.
  4. aircraft and the site does not meet the requirements for Category I aircraft (high speed aircraft - in excess of 245 knots), the Inspector shall notify Air Command Headquarters.
  5. Any application to reduce the distance between show lines and either a primary spectator area or a secondary spectator area, built-up area or occupied buildings must be reviewed to ensure it meets the criteria (section 623.07(1) - Flying Display Area of the Standards). It must be noted that the provisions for reduction in the spectator safety distances are not automatic to the minimum of 1200 feet for Category I aircraft or 800 feet for Category II aircraft. These reductions cannot be applied just to make the distances fit. The approval of the reduction in distance shall be approved only when flight safety can be enhanced by providing pilots with improved visibility of the show line by utilising an existing prominent terrain feature. Examples of prominent terrain features that may be considered are service roads, ditches, taxiways, and tree lines. Ploughing a line or turning over the sod are examples of prominent terrain features that shall not be considered under any circumstance.


  1. Participant documentation submitted as required by paragraphs 623.02(3)(a) to (e) of the Standards must be reviewed to confirm pilots and aircraft meet the eligibility criteria of section 623.06 -Participant Eligibility and Aircraft Eligibility of the Standards.
  2. Performer manoeuvre packages should be reviewed to identify any Air Show Manoeuvres Toward the Primary Spectator Area as described in Section 623.07 Minimum Safety Distances and Altitudes, paragraph 14(a) Flight Manoeuvres that will NOT be approved for inclusion in an Air Show. The applicant should have reviewed the packages prior to submitting them to Transport Canada for review and noted any manoeuvres that will not be approved (Note: The wording was changed from "prohibited" to "not approved" at the direction of the legal drafters.) If this is not the case, the applicant must be notified (in writing preferably), that these manoeuvres will not be authorized in the SFOC issued for the event.

    A new requirement has been added for manoeuvres as described in paragraph 623.07(14)(c) Flight Manoeuvres for which Special Assessment IS Required. The applicant should have reviewed the packages prior to submitting them to Transport Canada for review to determine if a performer has any of these manoeuvres in their program. If a performer does, they are required to have a valid assessment issued by the Chief of Recreational Aviation & Special Flight Operations or the FAA AFS 800.

Crowd Control

An application must be reviewed to determine that the requirements of section 623.05(3) - Event Management - Crowd Control can be met.

Emergency Facilities

Paragraph 623.02(3)(f) of the Standards requires a applicant to submit for information purposes, a copy of the event's proposed Emergency Procedures. Section 623.05 - Event Management - Emergency Facilities contains the requirement for a certificate holder to

  1. develop an emergency plan describing the personnel and equipment available to respond to anticipated emergencies, including incidents and accidents, or a medical emergency involving a spectator;
  2. communicate the plan to air show personnel and, where applicable, the air traffic service provider; and
  3. have the equipment and personnel described in the emergency plan in place for the air show.

It is not our responsibility to determine minimum requirements or standards for emergency equipment and procedures nor do aviation inspectors have the necessary expertise to assess the effectiveness or efficiency of a proposed emergency plan.

Certified aerodromes in Canada are required to have an emergency plan and generally speaking, air shows that take place at an airport develop an emergency plan that forms an addendum to the existing airport plan and is approved by the airport authorities.

When reviewing an application from an air show taking place at a small airport or at an off-airport site, the plan submitted should be reviewed for obvious omissions, i.e. no first-aid or fire equipment on site. Deficiencies should be brought to the attention of the applicant.

Air Display Traffic Control

An application must meet the requirements section 623.05(4) - Air Display Traffic Control of the Standards.


A NOTAM or A.I.P. Canada Supplement for each event shall be co-ordinated and issued in accordance with regional policies and procedures.

Record Keeping

All information, documentation, correspondence and records of telephone conversations received and used to issue the certificate for the conduct a Special Aviation Event should be kept together and placed on the appropriate regional files and in RDIMS. For events that take place regularly (annually or bi-annually), it is suggested that individual files be opened and maintained.

Each applicant is required to receive, and review the pilot and aircraft documentation as outlined in the standards, prior to submission to Transport Canada. Care should be taken to avoid becoming a "post office" for events by offering to use documentation received in support of applications for other events held in your region.

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