WHAT'S NEW - Using Aircraft in Production

Changes to CAA Rules Regarding Carriage of Production Crew.

It is over a year since we reported that the CAA had introduced some changes which have implications for production crews carried in aircraft. There was also some changes to the terminology used.

These arrangements have now become firmly established with no significant impact on productions. There is though still some uncertainty on productions about what checks they need to make about the operator. The following are the headlines.

Summary of European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirements 
All flight activity and aircraft movement is subject to EASA and CAA regulatory oversight and is covered by the Air Navigation Order and European Union legislation. These rules are unlikely to change post Brexit.

Commercial Air Transport
(CAT) means an aircraft operation involving the transport of passengers, cargo or mail for remuneration or hire.

Specialised Operations
(SPO) means any operation other than commercial air transport where the aircraft is used for specialised activities such as:
  • agriculture
  • construction
  • photography
  • surveying
  • observation and patrol
  • aerial advertisement
Those operating under the SPO do not need an AOC. However, they must ensure full compliance with the appropriate aviation rules and they must also make a formal declaration to the CAA stating that they are in compliance.

They must also declare a number of other things, such as their arrangements for the aircraft's continuing airworthiness.

Carriage of Passengers for travel from A to B, no aerial filming.
If a production charters/hires an aircraft to carry passengers it will be classed as ‘Commercial Air Transport’.

The aircraft operator must hold an Air Operators Certificate (AOC), issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in order to carry out Public Transport flights.

AOCs are issued in respect of operations for aeroplanes, helicopters and hot air balloons. High standards must be achieved before the award of an AOC and must be demonstrated by the operator to CAA flight operations inspectors.  

Carriage of Production Crew such as Presenter / Director and/or Cameraperson
Commercial Operators who are working under SPO category can carry production crew without the need to have an AOC providing the production crew is acting as a “Task Specialist”.

Under the new regulations a Task Specialist means a person assigned by the operator or a third party, or acting as an undertaking, who performs a specialised task on board or from the aircraft.

The CAA have advised that if Production Crew are in the aircraft to perform specialist tasks on board, then they will fall under the above definition.  An SPO operator will be able to carry such persons without needing to hold an AOC provided the principal purpose of the flight is related to broadcasting activity and not for transporting people from A to B.

The Task Specialist will need to be briefed by the operator regarding safety issues and will effectively be a non-piloting member of the crew.

Those who do not fall under the definition of Task Specialist, cannot be carried unless the operator holds an AOC.

To view the current CAA/EASA list of Part-SPO declared operators go to following link:

AOC operators may also undertake SPO activities.   

“High Risk” SPO task
If the operator is to undertake a 'high risk' SPO task - one which could be a risk to third parties/persons on the ground, e.g. low level flying, stunts - they will need a prior authorisation granted by the CAA. The CAA will look into the nature of the proposed flights in more detail ahead of granting the authorisation.  This can take time so submission of the application in good time is essential.

Any further queries please contact 1st Option Safety Group: Email: info@1stoptionsafety.com
T: +44 (0) 203 301 1256