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Special flight  – a non-commercial or commercial flight during which the aircraft is used for special activities, such as agricultural, construction, photography, research, surveillance and patrolling, aerial advertising activities.

Special flights are operated in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) no. 965/2012, which according to the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) no. 216/2008 establishes the technical requirements and administrative procedures (hereinafter referred to as the Regulation) related to the use of aircraft for flights.

Commercial and non-commercial special operations by complex motor-driven aircraft (NCC)  are conducted in accordance with the requirements of Annexes III and VIII of the Regulation.

Special flights in non-complex engine powered aircraft (NCO):

– Commercial special flights are carried out in accordance with the requirements of Annexes III and VIII of the Regulation (requirements for hot air balloon flights apply from April 8, 2018, for glider flights from April 8, 2019);

– Non-commercial special flights are conducted in accordance with the requirements of Annex VII of the Regulation (requirements for hot air balloon flights apply from April 8, 2018, for glider flights from April 8, 2019).

Deviations are allowed (Article 6 of the Regulation). The following flights may be operated by non-complex motor-powered aircraft (NCO) in accordance with the requirements of Annex VII of the Regulation:

– Competition and demonstration flights, provided that the remuneration or other valuable remuneration for these flights is no more than is necessary to cover the direct costs and is proportionate to the annual costs, as well as prizes with a value not exceeding 3,000 euros;

– Parachuting, glider towing or aerobatic flights by an approved training organization (ATO) or an organization established for the promotion of air sports or recreational aviation, provided that that organization uses the aircraft for operations on an ownership basis or under a non-crew hire agreement, so that the flight does not generate profits that would be distributed to persons outside the organization and that, if persons outside the organization participate in the operation of the flight, such flights constitute only a small part of the organization’s operations.

 CAA authorization is required for  high-risk commercial special flights . List of high-risk commercial special flights . Information on obtaining authorization for high-risk commercial special flights .

Examples of special flights:

  • Helicopter flights with external cargo;
  • Special research helicopter flights;
  • Flights where a person is outside the aircraft;
  • Parachuting and skydiving ;
  • Agricultural flights;
  • Photography flights;
  • Towing gliders;
  • Promotional flights;
  • Calibration flights;
  • Flights related to construction work;
  • Oil spill work;
  • Avalanche mining operations;
  • Survey flights; including topographical, pollution control flights;
  • Media, other film and television filming flights;
  • Special event flights, including demonstration and competition flights;
  • Burial at sea flights;
  • Scientific research flights (other than those provided for in Annex II of Regulation No. 2016/2008);
  • Cloud “seeding”;
  • Special flights, during which extreme aerobatic maneuvers are performed in order to make people feel weightlessness or extreme overloads.

This is not an exhaustive list. Additional criteria to determine whether it is a special flight:

  • The aircraft is flown below the specified minimum flight altitude to perform the flight task;
  • Unusual maneuvers are performed;
  • Special equipment is used during flight and this equipment affects the handling of the aircraft;
  • Materials emitted from the aircraft and these materials are harmful or affect the handling of the aircraft;
  • External loads or materials are lifted or towed;
  • People leave or board the aircraft during the flight.

The list of high-risk commercial special flights includes flights over densely populated areas, places of gathering of people and industrial facilities during which:

  1. When flying below the prescribed minimum flight altitude;
  2. A person leaves or boards an aircraft, flown outside the aircraft (except for flights during which the ejection of parachutists is carried out);
  3. Loads are being lifted or dragged outside, construction work is being carried out, ropes and posters are being pulled;
  4. Ejects or sprays substances that could endanger persons or property on the ground or affect the maneuverability of the aircraft;
  5. Equipment is used that greatly complicates the maneuverability of the aircraft.