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Procedural criteria for carriage and discharge of firearms from an aircraft
Commercial and private operations
When you submit your application for carriage of firearms or carriage and discharge of firearms permissions, you must provide operating procedures that address the following criteria. If your operating procedures vary significantly from these criteria, you will also need to submit a supporting safety case.
Operating procedures for carrying firearms and ammunition
Procedures addressing the following criteria must be submitted:
- Aircraft weight and performance limitations specified in the relevant aircraft manual must be observed.
- Live ammunition must be stored in appropriate containers supplied by the shooter. The containers must be restrained to appropriate hard points within easy reach of the shooter. The containers must be securely closed during take-off and landing to minimise the possibility of live ammunition spilling out during an accident.
- Only one shooter be in the aircraft carrying out live firing.
- The only personnel permitted to carry a firearm during culling operations are the firearm operator and authorised personnel required for essential duties relating to the culling operation.
- All occupants of the aircraft must wear seat belts for the duration of the flight except where CASA has approved a safety harness that may be used for culling operations.
- Firearms must always remain unloaded except immediately prior to the shooting operation and, when loaded, must be aimed outside the aircraft.
- Communication between the pilot-in-command (PIC) and the firearm operator should be maintained by intercom for the duration of the culling operation. If the intercom should fail during a flight, then the culling operation should cease immediately. Culling operations are not permitted without a serviceable intercom.
Operating procedures for discharging of firearms
Procedures addressing the following criteria must be submitted along with the procedures outlined above if a firearm will be discharged aboard an aircraft.
Preparing for the operation
- The full use of SARWATCH facilities may be made at the discretion of the pilot. As some operations may be conducted over remote outback areas, the PIC must, where necessary, ensure that the following equipment is loaded in the aircraft prior to leaving base:
- emergency rations
- survival kit
- first aid kit
- adequate supply of water for the crew
- serviceable emergency locator transmitter (ELT) beacon. Staff must be shown where the ELT is and how to use it in case the pilot becomes incapacitated.
- The pilot-in-command (PIC) must ensure that no people or unintended stock could be harmed during the operation by conducting a thorough survey of the area and communication with all parties before, and if necessary, during the operation.
- The PIC must ensure that the aircraft dual controls be removed and blanked to prevent accidental jamming or interference in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
During an operation
- The PIC must ensure that thorough communication with all parties takes place before the operation, including a separate briefing between the PIC and the shooter that covers the following points:
- Firing technique, including ‘arc of fire’ to prevent firing into the aircraft rotor system or any other part of the aircraft.
- Ensuring that the firearm ejection system will not interfere or damage any part of the aircraft or its occupants.
- Storage of live ammunition.
- Storage and disposal of used cartridges.
- Firearm to be unloaded prior to landing.
Using firearms from helicopters
- A firearm must not be discharged in flight in circumstances that may cause hazard to persons or property and must not at any time be permitted within three nautical miles of any city, town, or populous area without the specific approval of CASA.
- The types of firearms used from helicopters would generally be limited to shotguns, anaesthetising guns, rifles and semi-automatic rifles.
- The use of a revolver or similar handgun will generally not be approved.
- The use of semi-automatic rifles would generally be restricted to types where the direction of the ejection of the empty casings is below the horizontal and not greater than 90 degrees back from the direction of fire.
- The firearm may be operated and discharged only by a person licensed to carry and discharge the firearm. The pilot must not unhand the flying controls at any time to assist in the operation of the firearm.
- The aiming and firing of the firearm must always be in arc which is a minimum of 30 degrees below the rotor arc and forward of 90 degrees from the direction of flight.
- When a semi-automatic rifle is to be used, the PIC of the helicopter must first conduct a ground trial to ensure that the empty case ejection and noise level is satisfactory. A collection case must be used where the ejection of empty cases presents a foreign object damage hazard due to engine ingestion or contact with the main and/or tail rotor blades.
- Any used cartridges must avoid contact with external features of the helicopter. Depending on the type of firearm being used, one of the following methods should be used:
- Deflection shields will be used for semi-automatic weapons to ensure that spent cartridges are deflected downward and away from the aircraft.
- Extraction bags will be used on those weapons that have them fitted.
- Manual extraction will be used for bolt action firearms, and the shooter will place the spent cartridge in a suitable container restrained in the aircraft. These containers must be securely closed during take-off and landing to minimise the possibility of spent cartridges spilling out in the event of an accident.
- To prepare for an emergency landing, or as instructed by the PIC, the shooter is to dispose of a weapon to ensure that there is no interference with any part of the helicopter. The pilot must tell the shooter how to dispose of the weapon depending on the requirements of the specific aircraft.
For further information or assistance, contact your nearest CASA regional office.