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Community Service Flights
- New requirements have been made for pilots flying Community Service Flights (CSF)
- The requirements will come into effect on 19 March 2019
- The requirements establish a new minimum standard for CSF pilots to ensure that the people that use these flights are afforded an appropriate level of safety
What are Community Service Flights?
Community Service Flights (CSF) are conducted by volunteer pilots free of charge and coordinated by a charity or for a charitable or community service.
CSF are flights where patients and their families or carers are transported:
- to a destination for non-emergency medical treatment or services; or
- from the treatment destination back to the place from which they departed or to a destination where they reside.
While medical treatment is not provided on board a CSF, passengers can receive medication and treatment for an unexpected medical emergency.
No more than five passengers can be carried, including the patient.
CSF cannot be operated under the visual flight rules (VFR) at night.
Who can fly Community Service Flights?
From 19 March 2019, to fly a CSF 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) only, 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 Visual Flight Rules (VFR) pilots, at least 10 hours of flight time in an aeroplane of the same type as being used for the CSF
- for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), at least 20 hours of flight time in an aeroplane of the same type as being used for the CSF
- 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 also:
- submit a flight notification including identifying the flight as CSF
- specifically note in your personal logbook when a flight is a CSF
Are there any aircraft that can’t be used for CSF?
Yes. CSF cannot be flown 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
Please note: factory-built light sport aircraft can be used for CSF.
Frequently asked questions
- Do these standards affect emergency and aeromedical services?
No. The new standards only apply to Community Service Flights using volunteer pilots where the flight has been coordinated by a charitable or community service organisation.
Emergency services, aerial ambulance and aeromedical services already operate under more stringent rules.
- Do I need to fly every 30 days?
No. The normal requirement to have made three take-offs and landings (either dual or solo) in the previous 90 days still applies.
In addition, you must have completed one landing in the same aircraft class (or type if the aircraft requires a pilot type rating) during the previous 30 days before making a CSF flight. This could be on the day of the flight – for example during a positioning flight, or by making one circuit before you load your CSF passengers.
- What kind of aircraft does my recent landing need to be in?
You must have completed one landing in the same aircraft type (if the aircraft is subject to a type rating) or class (if the aircraft is subject to a class rating) during the previous 30 days before making a CSF flight.
Aircraft class ratings cover types of single-pilot aircraft that have similar performance and operational characteristics. For example, the landing within 30 days could have been conducted in a Cessna 182Q and the CSF could be conducted in a Cessna 182RG or a Piper PA28, providing the pilot has any necessary design feature endorsements and is competent to operate the aircraft (rule 61.385 of CASR).
Aircraft type ratings cover aircraft that are certificated for multi-crew operations and some single-pilot certified aircraft that are prescribed (for flight crew licensing purposes) as type-rated aircraft. Type-rated aircraft are not included in a class rating. A list of type rated aircraft is available at Prescription of aircraft and ratings — CASR Part 61 (Edition 5) Instrument 2018.
- Can I fly a CSF at night?
Yes, provided that the flight is conducted under the Instrument Flight Rules.
- Has CASA bypassed normal rule making processes and scrutiny?
No. The proposed rules were consulted for six weeks and over 220 responses received from pilots, organisations and other interested parties.
After feedback was analysed, CASA modified some elements of the proposal in response to issues raised during consultation. The final rule has been made through a Legislative Instrument under the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations. It places conditions on the exercise of pilot licence privileges.
Like all Legislative Instruments, it must be published on the Federal Register of Legislation and must be tabled in both houses of the Australian Parliament for scrutiny.
If you are interested in how this legislative process works, more detail is available from the Australian Parliament website. CASA cannot change or circumvent this process.
- Why are helicopters not permitted? Won’t this affect flood evacuation and emergency response?
Based on the information available to CASA, helicopters have rarely been used for Community Service Flights in Australia.
During public consultation of the proposed standards, only one respondent indicated that they had used a helicopter for a CSF and that respondent also owned and used an aeroplane for CSF.
The inclusion of helicopters will be considered in the future after further assessment.
Assisting in the evacuation of people during floods is not, by definition, a Community Service Flight. These types of emergency services, aerial ambulance and aeromedical services operate under more stringent rules.
- Do the new minimum standards apply if I want to fly my family or friends?
No. To be considered a Community Service Flight, the flight must be coordinated, arranged or facilitated by an entity for a charitable purpose or community service purpose.
- Will the new standards disqualify most volunteer pilots?
Based on the information that CASA has available, most volunteer pilots that are currently registered with charitable organisations will already meet the new minimum experience requirements.
The largest organiser of community service flights, Angel Flight, has provided information to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in 2013 about its volunteer pilot demographics indicating that:
- 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
- Is it true that these new standards have no relationship to previous accidents?
No. CASA carefully reviews the findings of investigations conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and also considers what pro-active steps can be taken based on information available.
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. This puts a lot of responsibility and sometimes considerable pressure on the pilot.
The new standards require minimum experience levels for pilots and include various other conditions.
The ATSB report into the fatal CSF accident in Victoria in 2011 was carefully considered in developing the standards. This flight was conducted under Visual Flight Rules and occurred after sunset and within a few minutes of last light in poor weather.
Under the new standards, Community Service Flights can no longer be conducted under the Visual Flight Rules at night. Night flights must be under Instrument Flight Rules.
The fatal CSF accident that occurred in South Australia in 2017 is still the subject of an ATSB investigation.
CASA has also reviewed other non-fatal accidents that have occurred with Community Service Flights.