About sport aviation

Sport aviation covers almost half the aircraft operating in Australia. Each year, it involves:

  • about 40,000 participants
  • more than 9000 aircraft
  • 360,000 parachute jumps.

Sport aviation covers almost half the aircraft operating in Australia. Each year, it involves:

  • about 40,000 participants
  • more than 9,000 aircraft
  • 360,000 parachute jumps.

Sport aviation offers a wide range of activities and is an affordable way to take part in aviation. 

It also provides a proving ground for new aviation concepts and technology. Many of the aircraft are not designed or built to any recognised civil aviation standard. Many of the activities are also only allowed through exemptions to the regulations.

The Australian sport aviation industry includes:

  • manufacturers
  • training facilities
  • organised competitions
  • enthusiasts. 

Our role in sport aviation

Australian sport aviation operates under a scheme of self-administration. This means that we set the regulations and self-administering organisations apply and enforce the regulations.

Read about self-administering organisations.

Participating in sport aviation as an informed participant

A person who takes part in sport aviation is an informed participant. This includes pilots and passengers who do things like:

  • parachuting
  • hang gliding
  • paragliding
  • recreational flights
  • warbird (ex-military) adventure flights.
  • Participants do so for their own enjoyment. 

Read about the different types of sport aircraft and activities.

Understand the risks

Participating in sport aviation carries a higher level of risk than flying as an airline passenger. 

Aircraft involved in sport aviation do not generally meet the same standards as other aircraft. This includes standards for:

  • design
  • airworthiness
  • operations
  • maintenance.

It is important that you consider the consequences of the activity, which may include death or permanent disability.

Research the risks

Informed participation means that before you take part or pay for an activity, you should be fully aware of the potential risks and consequences.

As part of your research, you should:

  • ask questions of the operator 
  • research the operator's website
  • check with the self–administering organisation
  • do some internet research
  • read CASA or Australian Transport Safety Bureau publications
  • discuss the activity with other participants.

Accept the risks

Before you take part in a sport aviation activity, you must accept the risks. You may have to read and sign a document to:

  • acknowledge the operator has told you the risks involved in the activity
  • confirm that you understand the risks.
  • The operator may also give you a verbal brief or presentation on the risks.

Depending on the type of aircraft, there may also be a warning placard stating that:

CASA and the self-administering organisation do not guarantee the airworthiness of that aircraft the pilots operate these aircraft at their own risk.

CASA eLearning

Between 75 and 80 per cent of aviation accidents result from some type of human error. We worked with sport aviation organisations to develop a series of eLearning modules. These modules help pilots and operators understand:

  • their own capabilities and limitations
  • what they can do to prevent errors.

Sport aircraft ramp checks

We do ramp checks as part of our general surveillance process. We may do them as part of planned surveillance of a particular area or aerodrome, or as a one-off. Ramp checks make sure flight operations are safe and in line with regulations. A typical ramp check involves inspecting:

  • documentation
  • flight preparations
  • your aircraft.

Also watch our video Ramp checks explained for sport pilots.

Jabiru engine limitation relief

Operators of aircraft powered by Jabiru engines can get relief from operating limitations imposed in 2014 and 2015.

The direction issued sets out the actions operators need to take to be able to lift the operational limitations on their Jabiru-powered aircraft. The direction took effect from 1 July 2016.

Operators must continue to observe operating limitations if they do not take the actions set out in our direction. The new direction was based on analysis in our Jabiru engine reliability analysis report.

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