EASA regulation update
EASA PART-SPO Specialised Operations comes into force in 2017, affecting both ‘aerial work’ and aerobatics. Are you ready?
Seven months prior to the enforcement of the latest EASA regulation on 21 April 2017, the CAA held a workshop at its Gatwick headquarters on 12 September to introduce and explain the regulation’s implications to those organisations and individuals affected by the new EASA PART-SPO Specialised Operations legislation.
Below is a simplified overview of what this means for potential SPO operators. There is also legislation on management, training, crewing and compliance and many more subjects. All can be found on the CAA’S website www.caa.co.uk/spo, following the link to the PART-SPO guidance page.
So, what are these new ‘Specialised Operations’? Per the CAA’S workshop, they include aviation activities related to agriculture, construction, photography, surveying, observation and patrol, as well as aerial advertisement – basically, much of what used to be called ‘aerial work’. The rules have been in place since 1 July 2014 and apply regardless of the aircraft’s State of Registry. Some of these activities may be deemed ‘high risk’, particularly to third parties, and as a consequence will now require prior authorisation. Parties affected by PART-SPO are: • Commercial and non-commercial SPO operators • Complex and non-complex aircraft SPO operators • High risk and non high risk SPO operators
The new PART-SPO legislation is driven by a series of definitions, which were clarified as follows.
‘Complex motor-powered aircraft’ means a MTOW exceeding 5,700kg or maximum seating for nineteen passengers; certified with a minimum crew of two; equipped with a turbojet engine or more than one turboprop engine. For a helicopter, the definition covers a MTOW exceeding 3,175kg; maximum seating for more than nine passengers; and certified for a minimum crew of two. The new legislation will also cover tiltrotor aircraft but, as yet, no definition is included.
In terms of ‘commercial operators’, these were defined as: any operation of an aircraft, in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration, which is available to the public or, when not made available to the public, which is performed under a contract between an operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the operator. An ‘operator’ was defined as: any legal body or individual, operating or proposing to operate one or more aircraft or one or more aerodromes.
No definitions were offered for ‘Non-commercial’ SPO operators as the legislation considers that if you are not covered by the ‘Commercial’ definition, you must be considered ‘Non-commercial’. Similarly, if your aircraft or helicopter is not covered by the ‘Complex’ definition, and is smaller or lighter than the ‘Complex’ definitions, you must be operating a ‘Non-complex’ type.
In fact, you are probably included whether commercial or non-commercial, complex or non-complex. However, while PART-SPO covers Specialist Operations by Commercial SPO operations with any aircraft, as well as Non-commercial SPO operations with complex aircraft, the legislation does allow Non-commercial SPO operations with other than complex motor-powered aircraft to be conducted under PART-NCO i.e. Specialised Operations by operators conducting non-commercial activities with other than complex motor-powered aircraft.
In order to comply with the new PART-SPO and PART-NCO legislation, operators will need to complete a detailed declaration to the CAA covering each and every aircraft or helicopter they will operate under the new legislation – along with a fee payable per aircraft (tbc but thought to be around £130 each). The nature of that ORO.DEC.100 declaration covers: • providing the competent authority with all relevant information prior to commencing operations, using the form contained in Appendix I to the Annex • notifying to the competent authority a list of the alternative
means of compliance used • maintaining compliance with the applicable requirements and
with the information given in the declaration • notifying the competent authority without delay of any changes to its declaration or the means of compliance it uses through submission of an amended declaration using the form contained in Appendix I to the Annex • notifying the competent authority when it ceases operation. So the onus is very much on the operator to ensure it operates within the legislation. The declaration process will be available from January 2017.
Unless your Specialist Operation is deemed high risk, there is no need to wait for approval from the CAA; if it has questions or doubts, it will respond to the application. However, if your application is of a high risk nature (and a definition is already in place to cover this consequence), you will need to wait for approval before undertaking the task. Once your application for each aircraft or helicopter is made, it remains in place and does not need renewing on an annual basis. Amendments to a particular aircraft or helicopter’s role can be made online but will be subject to a fee.
Commercial Air Transport Operators already holding an Air Operators Certificate must make a separate SPO declaration if they are also conducting SPO flights.
During the workshop, it emerged that operators of aerobatic aircraft will be covered by the proposed Annex VII PART-NCO legislation. This covers the technical rules for non-commercial operations of other than complex motor-powered aircraft including sailplanes and balloons. Effectively, this is a subset of PART-SPO with ‘a lighter touch for non-commercial specialised operations’ (to quote the CAA) and applies to any non-commercial specialised activity in other than complex motor-powered EASA aircraft, including but not limited to: helicopter external sling loads, human external cargo, parachute operations and, most importantly, aerobatic flights.
To comply with these new regulations, operators of all aerobatic flights will need to: conduct a risk assessment before each and every aerobatic flight; operate using a checklist based on the risk assessment; and brief crew members ahead of the flight on the procedures to be carried out, including in the event of a forced landing. This covers not simply aerobatic training or experience flights but all aerobatic flights undertaken by any pilot in any aircraft.
For example, Pilot magazine’s regular contributor and former aerobatics competitor, Nick Bloom, regularly flies aerobatics in his homebuilt aircraft. Each of Nick’s aerobatic flights will need to comply with the new Annex VII PART-NCO regulations which, although not effective until April 2017, have also been in place for a couple of years. Report by Keith Wilson