603.01 No person shall conduct a special aviation event unless the person complies with the provisions of a special flight operations certificate — special aviation event issued by the Minister pursuant to section 603.02.
Special Aviation Event is defined as:
CAR Part I - General Provisions, Subpart 1 - Interpretation :
"special aviation event" - means an air show, a low level air race, an aerobatic competition, a fly-in or a balloon festival.
While a Special Authorization (SFOC) is required by CARS, there is an exemption that was passed by Transport Canada and COPA that allows you to hold a fly-in so long as you adhere to some basic rules.
To make it easy to understand lets just say that you do not require an SFOC so long as the pilots conduct a normal landing, taxi in, shut down, fill their bellies, tell a few lies, start up, taxi out and conduct a normal takeoff and departure. Leave the low goodbye pass to the Snowbirds unless you want a coffee date with your local TC Inspector. Don't get us wrong, TC is not out to get you, they love aviation and want you to have fun but they also want you to do it the right way.
Why all these rules? Lets break it down.
What it really comes down to is protecting the general public. Fly-ins by their very nature involve inviting people to attend an "event". These people may be other pilots or members of the general public but despite the level of their aviation involvement they were invited. Also keep in mind that many TC Civil Aviation Inspectors are also pilots and avid aviation enthusiasts and may be attending the event for their own personal enjoyment.
What activities do not require and TC SFOC under the COPA/TC exemption?
- Fly-Ins where no competitive flying or aerial demonstration will occur.
- Poker Runs
What activities require an SFOC?
Fly-Ins or Events that include (planned or unplanned):
- High speed low level passes;
- Non-standard circuit procedures;
- Spot landings;
- Flour bombing; or
- Aerial demonstrations.
Getting approval and an SFOC for Flour Bombing, Spot Landings or any of the other activities:
Transport Canada will issue SFOCs for fly-ins that want to spice it up a bit so long as the proper process is followed. The key point being that they want to ensure that the people on the ground are protected and that systems have been put in place to ensure that possible risks have been mitigated.
To obtain an SFOC:
- Allow at least 3 weeks for it to be processed.
- Submit your request to email@example.com. Using this email address will time stamp your request and ensure that it is actioned in accordance with TC's internal time standard for dealing with such requests.
- Keep a copy of your request and if need be send a copy to your local TC inspector.
If you are planning to host or participate in a fly-in, ensure that you are familiar with the CARS and the exemption (attached below). So long as pilots are arriving, having a great day and leaving then you have nothing to worry about. If there is going to be any "spice" added to the event and your gut says "I wonder if this is allowed" then please refer to this article and get the appropriate approvals. TC Inspectors for the most part are also aviation enthusiasts and chances are they will work with you to ensure that your event is safe, enjoyable and entertaining. If in doubt keep it vanilla.
- EXEMPTION FROM SECTION 603.01 OF THE CANADIAN AVIATION REGULATIONS (PDF)
- COPA GUIDE TO HOSTING FLY-INS & AIR MEETS (LINK)
- CANADIAN AVIATION REGULATIONS (CARS)
- CARS REFERENCES REGARDING SFOCs (SEE BELOW)
Contents of Special Flight Operations Certificate
603.03 A special flight operations certificate — special aviation event shall contain the following information:
- (a) the name and address of the certificate holder;
- (b) the number of the certificate;
- (c) the date of issue of the certificate;
- (d) the validity period of the certificate;
- (e) the general conditions identified in section 603.04; and
- (f) specific conditions with respect to
- (i) the types of aircraft authorized to operate at the special aviation event and, if applicable, their registration,
- (ii) the names and, if applicable, the qualifications of the flight crew members authorized to participate in the special aviation event, and
- (iii) any other condition pertaining to the special aviation event that the Minister deems necessary for aviation safety.
General Conditions of Special Flight Operations Certificate
603.04 A special flight operations certificate — special aviation event shall contain the following general conditions:
- (a) the certificate holder shall maintain an adequate management organization;
- (b) the certificate holder shall ensure that participants are
- (c) the certificate holder shall conduct the special aviation event in a safe manner.
603.05 No person shall conduct a special aviation event unless the person has a management organization that
- (a) is capable of exercising supervision and operational control over
- (b) meets the Special Flight Operations Standards.
Participant and Aircraft Eligibility
603.06 No person shall operate an aircraft or permit an aircraft to be operated in a special aviation event unless the person operating the aircraft and the aircraft
- (a) meet the eligibility requirements specified in section 623.06 of the Special Flight Operations Standards; and
- (b) are authorized to do so in a special flight operations certificate-special aviation event.
Minimum Safety Distances and Altitudes
603.07 No person shall operate an aircraft in a special aviation event at a distance from, or at an altitude above, a spectator area, a built-up area or an occupied building if that distance or altitude is less than the minimum specified in section 623.07 of the Special Flight Operations Standards.
603.08 No person shall operate an aircraft in a special aviation event in weather conditions that are below the minimum conditions specified in the Special Flight Operations Standards.
603.09 No person shall operate an aircraft in a special aviation event unless the person has received a participant briefing that meets the Special Flight Operations Standards.