CASA has set new minimum standards for pilots operating community service flights. The standards also identify the kinds of aircraft that can be used, and set out appropriate maintenance and operating requirements.
Community service flights (CSF) provide transport for patients and their families or carers for non-emergency medical treatment. The flights are flown by volunteer pilots free of charge and coordinated by charitable or community services organisations.
The safety standards have been put in place following consultation with community service flight organisations, pilots, the broader aviation community and the general public. They take effect on 19 March 2019.
Under the new standards, to fly a community service flight you must have:
- for a multi-engine aeroplane, at least 25 hours of flight time as pilot in command of a multi-engine aeroplane
- for Private Pilot Licence (PPL), at least 400 hours of flight time and at least 250 hours of flight time as pilot in command (commercial/air transport licence holders are exempt from this)
- a class 1 or 2 medical certificate
- for VFR pilots, at least 10 hours of flight time in an aeroplane of the same type as being used for the flight
- for IFR, at least 20 hours of flight time in an aeroplane of the same type as being used for the flight
- landed the same class-rated or type-rated aeroplane within the previous 30 days
- a current maintenance release with a periodic inspection conducted every 100 hours or 12 months (whichever is earlier).
You must not:
- carry more than five passengers, including the patient
- operate a community service flight under visual flight rules (VFR) at night.
You must also:
- submit a flight notification including identifying the flight as a CSF
- specifically note in your personal logbook when a flight is a CSF.
Factory-built light sport aircraft can be used for community service flights. You cannot, however, fly a community service flight in:
- a helicopter
- an amateur-built aircraft accepted under an Amateur Built Aircraft Acceptance
- a limited category aircraft
- an aircraft with an experimental certificate
- an unregistered aeroplane.
CASA’s initial proposal contained standards for aircraft and engine maintenance. After public consultation, CASA decided to remove specific engine maintenance requirements. Also, as a result of feedback, CASA also reduced the multi-engine experience requirement from 100 hours to 25 hours.
CASA Chief Executive Officer and Director of Aviation Safety, Shane Carmody, said the new safety standards had taken into account the special nature of community service flights.
‘Most community service flights are conducted by a single pilot in a small aircraft, flying long distances from regional and remote towns to the cities, carrying people with serious medical conditions,’ Mr Carmody said. ‘This puts a lot of responsibility and sometimes considerable pressure on the pilot. Many of these pilots hold only a private pilot licence.’
‘It is only fair to the patients and carers using community service flights to ensure there are appropriate safety standards that go beyond those required for everyday private flying.’
‘We do not believe these standards will have an adverse impact on the majority of operations of community service flights as most of these pilots already tend to be more experienced. However, after two fatal accidents in recent years involving community service flights where six people died, it was time to set out minimum required safety standards.
Figures provided by community service flight coordinating organisation Angel Flight to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) appear to support what Carmody says.
Angel Flight told the ATSB:
- average pilot-in-command (PIC) hours were about 2400
- 64 per cent of pilots held an instrument rating
- 16 per cent held a night VFR rating
- 61 per cent of pilots held a private pilot licence with the remainder holding at least a commercial pilot licence.
That is a lot better than the original proposal. Removing the requirement for a charter category standard engine means I can continue to participate
I am a bit perplexed why helicopters can’t be used especially considering most of the metropolitan air ambulances are helicopters.
Also NVFR. Are CASA suggesting that the NVFR flight test and recency requirements are not good enough to take passengers?
Good point. It often seems to me that CASA, in common with many other Gov. departments, make rules “on the fly” meaning without any real understanding of the consequences, contradictions or ability to enforce. We live in crazy over governed times.
Good to see, am surprised CASA backed off a bit though. NVFR would not be appropriate so am glad they won’t allow that.
All in all a good out come.
Walter, please justify your statement that NVFR would not be appropriate. For example I am a CPL and both my aircraft are NVFR approved, so what is the problem?
I’m somewhat perplexed… the organizing and subsidizing of these flights by a commercial organization, appears to contravene the original intention of private pilot cost sharing flights in that the commercial advertising (and presumably organising) of these flights was not permitted).
Peter would you be referring to the Angel Flight advertising by any chance?
I suggest you contact them and ask who pays for that advertising you may be surprised!