Adventure flight safety explained

A range of ex-military, historic and replica aircraft may be used to offer adventure-style flights to the general public for a fee.

Rather than being a traditional joy flight, providers market these flights as:

  • warbird
  • combat
  • military
  • top-gun
  • adventure. 

The flights may involve:

  • mock military-style combat manoeuvres
  • aerobatics
  • mock bombing runs.

The Australian Warbirds Association (AWAL) under Part 132 of CASR manage these flights. 

We intend for this information to be a guide for people who are considering taking adventure flights. It is not an endorsement of any particular organisation or adventure flights in general.

Adventure flights and safety

Taking an adventure flight has a higher risk than flying as a passenger on a commercial airline. This is due to many factors including:

  • the manufacture of many ex-military aircraft took place in the 1950s, 60s and 70s
  • the original design and specifications of manufacture were military, not civilian
  • manufacturing and maintenance not being the same as civilian standards for passenger-carrying aircraft
  • flights may involve aerobatics or mock military manoeuvres 
  • flights may occur in non-controlled airspace. 

Our role in adventure flights

The AWAL has approval from us to administer adventure flight aircraft. The operator must operate under the AWAL or must have specific approval issued by us to operate.

The operation and maintenance of these aircraft must be in line with AWAL’s manual and Part 132 of CASR

Pilots conducting adventure flights must have a minimum of both a current:

  • CASA issued commercial pilot licence
  • Class 1 Medical.

These are of a higher standard than a private pilot licence.

We regard adventure flights operating in limited category aircraft as similar to sport aviation. This means that if you take part in this type of aviation, we expect you understand and accept the risks (informed participation).

That is why people on adventure flights must be:

  • briefed on the risks
  • sign a document acknowledging they accept these risks.

The Commonwealth nor CASA are liable in negligence or otherwise for any loss or damage incurred by anyone because of, or arising out of, a limited category or experimental aircraft’s:

  • design
  • construction
  • restoration
  • repair
  • maintenance
  • operation.

The Commonwealth nor CASA are liable for any act or omission of CASA done or made in good faith to any of those things.

Conditions on these flights

Important rules for adventure flights include:

  • Each flight is limited to a maximum of 6 passengers (aircraft permitting) unless otherwise approved.
  • Some aircraft have restrictions on where they can fly.
  • The aircraft must be in a good state of repair and airworthiness.
  • The aircraft type must have a history of safe operations.
  • The flights must take off from and land at the same location.
  • Flights from one place to another are not permitted.

We or an authorised person:

  • must consider the aircraft to be as safe as reasonably practicable when operated within the limitations of the aircraft flight manual (or similar document)
  • must receive an acceptable statement from the adventure flight company identifying the aircraft’s proposed use
  • may inspect the plane to determine if it's in a good state of preservation and repair, and is safe to fly.

Accepting the risks before flying

 Before you book an adventure flight, you must:

  • have the risks explained 
  • sign a document that you accept those risks.

You must accept the risk that the plane does not meet any standard we recognise for:

  • design
  • manufacture
  • airworthiness.

You must also accept that:

we do not require the aircraft to be flown to the same degree of safety as a commercial passenger flight
the adventure flight is at your own risk.

Every limited category aircraft must carry a placard with the following warning. It must be clearly displayed inside the plane in a way that everyone can read it.

Warning: Persons fly in this aircraft at their own risk. This aircraft has been designed for special operations and does not meet the same safety standards as a normal commercial passenger flight.

Types of pilots who fly these aircraft

Adventure flight pilots must hold either a commercial or air transport pilot licence. The licence must have the appropriate endorsements and ratings. This is a higher standard than for a private pilot’s licence. 

Types of planes

Different types of aircraft can operate in the limited category, but adventure flights must only be in ex-military or historic aircraft.

Adventure flights can use both jets and propeller-driven planes or helicopters.

Types include:

  • MiG
  • YAK
  • Strikemaster
  • L39 Albatross
  • Trojan
  • Tiger Moth
  • CT4. 

There are currently more than 200 planes flying in the limited category in Australia.

Accidents in limited category aircraft

Accidents involving limited category aircraft are not common despite the higher level of risks. 

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