A community service flight (CSF):
- transports people to and from a destination to receive non-emergency medical treatment or services
- is coordinated, arranged or facilitated by an organisation for charitable or community service purpose
- is where no medical treatment is provided on board, but passengers can receive medication and treatment for an unexpected medical emergency
- is free of charge to the patient(s) and the person(s) providing them support.
How CSFs differ from private flights
Many private pilots donate their time to volunteer for CSFs. However, these flights can be quite different to other private flights.
CSFs are not conducted under the safety umbrella of an Air Operators Certificate (AOC).
Pilots often conduct CSFs away from the geographical areas, weather conditions and aerodromes they are familiar with. These flights are often booked well in advance and for a specific appointment, so pilots may feel pressure to complete the flight, whether real or perceived.
This pressure might come from:
- carrying someone you don’t know - it's sometimes more difficult to disappoint a stranger than an acquaintance or friend
- awareness of the patient’s circumstances - the more you learn about the passenger’s situation, the more you may feel the need to ensure they reach their destination on time
- personal obligations - if you have appointments or obligations after the flight, you may feel pressure not to reschedule or delay
- proximity to the destination – the closer you are to the destination, the more likely you will want to complete the flight.
Safety material for pilots
We produce free materials to help pilots build or maintain the skills they need for safe flying.
- The human factors for pilots kit looks at the pilot’s social and personal skills, such as situational awareness, decision making and human information processing. It includes 10 booklets with video content containing interviews with industry experts and practitioners.
- The flight planning kit aims to help VFR pilots with good flight planning habits. It includes a handbook outlining 8 stages of a flight, flight planning notepad, personal minimums card and time in your tanks card.
- The radio Procedures in non-controlled airspace booklet covers what pilots need to do in Class G airspace, including radio frequencies, phraseology and when to broadcast.
Also see the community service flights checklist (PDF, 291 kB).
We also encourage pilots to attend our free AvSafety seminars. These have a particular emphasis on pilot skills and decision making.
The rules for conducting community service flights
There are rules for pilots conducting community service flights (CSFs).
Experience and recency – qualifications, flight hours minimums and recent landings
To conduct a CSF, you must hold a:
- private pilot licence
- commercial pilot licence or
- air transport pilot licence.
You must also hold a class 1 or class 2 medical certificate.
Flight hour minimums
If your CSF is in a multi-engine aeroplane, you must have at least 25 hours of flight time as pilot-in-command of any multi-engine aeroplane.
If you only hold a private pilot licence you must have at least:
- 400 hours of flight time
- 250 hours of flight time as pilot-in-command in an aeroplane or a helicopter.
You must have completed 1 landing in the same aircraft class (or type, if the aircraft requires a pilot type rating) during the previous 30 days. This could be on the day of the flight. For example, during a positioning flight or by making 1 circuit before loading CSF passengers.
Aircraft class ratings cover types of single-pilot aircraft that have similar performance and operational characteristics. So, a 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 or PA28R. This is providing the pilot also has the necessary design feature endorsements and is competent to operate the aircraft.
Aircraft type ratings
Aircraft type ratings cover aircraft that are certificated for multi-crew operations and some single-pilot certified aircraft for flight crew licensing purposes. Type-rated aircraft are not included in a class rating.
You can read the list of type rated aircraft at Prescription of aircraft and ratings — CASR Part 61 (Edition 5) Instrument 2018.
Flight rules – hours on type, no NVFR
If your CSF is under the visual flight rules (VFR), you must have at least 10 hours of flight time in an aircraft of the same type. This applies even if you hold a class rating for the aircraft.
If your CSF is under the instrument flight rules (IFR), you must have at least 20 hours of flight time in an aircraft of the same type. This applies even if you hold a class rating for the aircraft.
Another important restriction is that a CSF cannot be flown under the visual flight rules (VFR) at night.
Types of aircraft
There is no limit to the size of an aircraft that may be used for a CSF. The pilot must be qualified for the category, class and type (where applicable) of aircraft.
Aircraft that are specifically excluded from CSF are:
- amateur-built and accepted under an Amateur Built Aircraft Acceptance
- in the limited category*
- issued with an experimental certificate
- not registered under CASR Part 47 - Registration of aircraft and related matters.
This means that CSF flights can only be conducted in VH-registered aircraft that have been issued a standard certificate of airworthiness or a special certificate of airworthiness, and are type certificated in the following categories*:
- primary or intermediate.
*Note: the use of restricted category aircraft is confined to special purpose operations listed in regulation 21.025 of CASR.
If the CSF aeroplane is maintained according to Schedule 5 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 it must have undergone a periodic inspection within the previous 100 hours flight time or 12 months since the last inspection (whichever occurs first).
If the aeroplane was issued its current certificate of airworthiness less than 12 months before the flight a CSF may be conducted in the aeroplane if it has been in service for less than 100 hours since the certificate was issued.
If the aircraft (aeroplane or helicopter) is maintained in accordance with another approved schedule of maintenance, such as a manufacturer’s maintenance schedule or an approved system of maintenance in accordance with the Civil Aviation Regulations, the aircraft can be used for a CSF provided the requirements of that schedule are met.
Number of passengers
A CSF cannot carry a person who is not part of the:
- flight crew
- operating crew
- a patient or a support person.
No more than 5 passengers can be carried, including the patient.
CSFs can carry more than 1 patient, and a patient can be accompanied by more than 1 support person.
To be part of the operating crew a person must have duties assigned by the pilot-in-command (PIC) in relation to the safety or flying of the aircraft.
The decision on whether the carriage of operating crew or, a support person or persons chosen by the patient is considered necessary to provide the required support is up to the PIC.
Flight notification – SARTIME or full flight details
The pilot must submit a flight notification to Airservices Australia and identify the flight as a CSF. This can be either full flight details or SARTIME.
For full flight details, this can be recorded as 'RMK/CSF' in item 18 of the domestic flight notification form.
For SARTIME, this can be recorded as 'CSF' in the Remarks section of the NAIPS SARTIME form.
You must also record information that the flight is a CSF in your personal logbook.