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 below 2000' AGL is a new requirement introduce with the CARs. Prior to implementation of the CARs, aerobatic flight was prohibited in controlled airspace only with no altitude restriction. Altitude restrictions were imposed in the authorisation issued pursuant to Air Regulation 517(c) or by the operating procedures for CYA areas published in the Designated Airspace Handbook. The following general operating rules contained in Subpart 2 of CARs, outline the regulatory hierarchy dealing with aerobatic flight.

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;
  2. in controlled airspace, except in accordance with an SFOC issued pursuant to section 603.67 of the CARs;
  3. when flight visibility is less than three (3) miles; or
  4. below 2,000 feet AGL except in accordance with a SFOC issued pursuant to section 603.02 (Special Aviation Events) or 603.67.

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.

Following implementation of the CARs, we received requests for clarification of the new requirements from air show performers and members of aerobatic clubs who require the ability to practise below 2000' AGL on a regular basis. In the development of the Special Flight Operations Standards pertaining to conducting aerobatics below 2000 feet AGL there was no intent to make the requirement to hold an SFCO be site specific.