Adventure flight safety

A range of ex-military, historic and replica aircraft are currently permitted to offer adventure-style flights to the public for a fee.

These flights are marketed as:

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

These flights may involve mock military-style combat manoeuvres, aerobatics and mock bombing runs.

The information here is not an endorsement of any particular organisation or adventure flights in general.

Know the safety risks

Taking an adventure flight is riskier than flying as a passenger on a commercial airline. This is because:

  • many of the ex-military aircraft were manufactured in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s
  • the aircraft were built and maintained to a military standard and not a normal commercial aircraft standard
  • the flights may involve aerobatics or mock military manoeuvres
  • flights may occur in non-controlled airspace.

Our role in adventure flights

The Australian Warbirds Association Limited (AWAL) administers adventure flight aircraft. These aircraft must be operated and maintained according to the AWAL manual or have a specific approval issued by us to operate.

We licence the pilots of these flights. All adventure flight pilots must have a minimum of a commercial pilot licence and medical certificate.

Adventure flights operating in the limited category are regarded by us as similar to sport aviation.

Note: The Commonwealth nor CASA are liable in negligence or otherwise for any loss or damage incurred by anyone because of, or arising out of, the design, construction, restoration, repair, maintenance or operation of a limited category aircraft or an experimental aircraft, or any act or omission of CASA done or made in good faith to any of those things.

Adventure flight conditions

There are a range of important requirements relating to adventure flights, these include:

  • there must be no more than 6 people on each flight
  • restrictions on where aircraft can fly
  • the aircraft must be in a good state of repair and airworthiness
  • the aircraft type must have a history of safe operations.

We or an authorised person:

  • must consider the aircraft to be as safe as reasonably practicable when flown as it's meant to be
  • must receive an acceptable statement for 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 take an adventure flight, the company must explain the risks to you, and you must accept them.

If you take an adventure flight in a limited category aircraft, the company must brief you about the risks. The company will ask you to sign a document acknowledging this.

The risks you must accept are:

  • the design, manufacture and airworthiness of the plane don't need to meet any standard we recognise
  • we don't require the aircraft to be flown to the same degree of safety as a commercial passenger flight
  • you take the adventure flight at your own risk.

Every limited category aircraft must carry a placard with the following warning 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 is not operated to the same safety standards as a normal commercial passenger flight.

Pilot licences for adventure flights

The pilots flying adventure flights must hold a commercial pilot licence or an air transport pilot licence. Their licence must have the appropriate endorsements and ratings to allow them to fly the aircraft.

This is a higher standard than for a private pilot’s licence.

Types of aircraft used

The term warbird is used to refer to an ex-military aircraft being flown in civilian aviation. A warbird can be an historic or modern aircraft. Some of them are replicas.

Adventure flights can use both jets and propeller-driven aircraft.

Types include:

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

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

Limited category aircraft accidents

There have been accidents involving these kinds of aircraft. But since adventure flight operations began in 1998, only 2 fatal crashes have occurred.

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