Permanently-Tethered Balloons

How permanently tethered balloons are regulated

In Canada, a permanently-tethered balloon system is an "aircraft" under the definition of the Aeronautics Act. Specifically, a balloon is defined as a "non-power driven lighter-than-air aircraft". Whether operating freely, under temporary tether or as a permanently-tethered unit, balloons are subject to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). Some of the requirements that the Canadian Aviation Regulations would impose on a permanently-tethered balloon system operation include:

  • Aircraft Registration

    Part II of the Canadian Aviation Regulations deals with aircraft identification and registration. Within Part II, CAR 202.13 deals with Registration of Aircraft - General. Subsection (2) of this regulation states that no person may operate an aircraft in Canada unless it is registered. Canadian regulations call for certain levels of Canadian ownership and control for aircraft and commercial air services.
  • Personnel Licensing

    Part IV of the Canadian Aviation Regulations deals with personnel licensing and training. Within this part, CAR 401.03 imposes requirements to hold a flight crew licence. Subsection (1) states that no person shall act as a flight crew member unless the person is the holder of the appropriate licence and medical certificate. Specific to the operation of balloons, CAR 421.25 is the standard outlining the requirements for a Balloon Pilot Licence.
  • Balloons with Fare-paying Passengers

    Division II of Sub-part 603 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations deals with the operation of balloons with fare-paying passengers. CAR 603.17 specifies the requirements for the operation of balloons in this role. It prohibits operation of a balloon in the carriage of fare-paying passengers unless the operator complies with the provisions of a Special Flight Operations Certificate - balloons which can be issued once an operator demonstrates the ability to conduct flight operations in accordance with the Special Flight Operations Standards.
  • Flight Authority

    CAR 605.03 states that no person may operate any aircraft in flight unless a flight authority is in effect and the aircraft is operated in accordance with the conditions set out in its flight authority. Flight authorities can take the form of validations of foreign flight authorities, certificates of airworthiness or flight permits.

What information should be submitted

If you are considering the operation of a permanently-tethered balloon system in Canada, we encourage you to submit detailed information, as early as possible, of how you propose to operate the system. Once reviewed, we can determine where the operation fits our standard requirements, as well as identify those areas where non-standard procedures would be reasonable to ensure an operation that is practical, safe and in the Canadian public interest. Preliminary information submitted could include such considerations as:

  • Maintenance & Inspection
    • proposed maintenance and inspection program
    • qualification of personnel involved
    • manufacturer's recommendations and requirements
  • Operational personnel
    • qualifications of those operating the system
    • initial and recurrent training programs
    • mechanisms to ensure initial and ongoing competency
  • Operating procedures
    • safety procedures for passengers on board the system
    • safety procedures for customers on the ground
    • safety procedures for members of the public not involved in the operation
    • considerations for other aircraft operating in the vicinity
    • considerations and restrictions for day, night and poor weather operations

Given the non-traditional nature of permanently-tethered balloon systems, any information provided about the similarity between your proposal and successful operations elsewhere would be helpful in our initial discussions to assess the requirements necessary for ensuring the safety of all those involved. Traditional safety structures certification of (1) the aircraft, (2) the pilot, (3) the maintenance process and (4) the operation itself, including operating restrictions and requirements. If an operation were to be approved, it may require a modification of at least some of the standard requirements and procedures, assuming the proposal provides mechanisms by which the needed level of safety can be assured using the remaining available structures.

Who to contact for more information

A complete text of the Canadian Aviation Regulations may be found on the Internet at:

If you require more information, please contact us at:

Transport Canada
Recreational Aviation and Special
Flight Operations (AARRD)
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street, 6th Floor,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N8

Telephone: (613) 990-1034
Facsimile: (613) 990-6215