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Project OS 12/38 - Amendment to CAO 29.6 Air Service Operations - Helicopter External Load Operations

Topic code: 
Flight Operations
Project status: 

Closure notes

This project has been combined with project OS 13/26.

Both projects are substantially similar and involve the incorporation and introduction of risk management and mitigation concepts into the planning and performance of helicopter external load operations, both human and non-human. It is considered that there is considerable advantage and efficiency in combining both projects and consulting the amended Civil Aviation Orders via one Notice of Proposed Rule Making.

Accordingly this project has been closed and its content transferred to project OS 13/26.


Subregulation 207 (1) of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 (CAR 1988) states that a person must not use an Australian aircraft in a class of operation if the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has not authorised and approved the particular type of aircraft for that use.

Regulation 303A of CAR 1988 provides that CASA may issue an approval or authority subject to any condition that CASA thinks necessary for the safety of air navigation.

Section 29.6 of the Civil Aviation Orders contains the requirements for the conduct of helicopter sling load operations.

The CAO is out of date and does not reflect the latest concepts in the use of risk assessment and management in regard to these operations. It also does not contain a general low flying permission for helicopter external load operations, which requires these operations to be controlled by the issue of numerous CAR 157(3) permissions to avoid breaches of low flying regulations.

Helicopter operations are becoming more complex and diverse, a situation which is particularly true for sling load operations, which is a growing and highly specialised area of helicopter operations. The generic nature of the provisions in the current Order are now in a situation where they do not adequately address the many and varied situations which can arise in the operations, particularly when they occur in or near populous areas where the overall risk of the operation is potentially very high.

The introduction of CASR 138 will require a more detailed approach to an operator's policies and procedures for risk mitigation and a more risk assessment based process for approval of helicopter external load operations, and it is felt there is great advantage in moving towards these general policies in the current provisions, prior to and until the operational CASRs are in place.

The scope of the project has been expanded to consider the carriage of external human sling loads. Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 - Regulation 250 provides that an operator or pilot in command must not permit a person to be carried on anything attached to the aircraft without the written permission of CASA. The current CAO provides no guidance in this regard. Incorporation of such operations into the current amendment to CAO 29.6 will ensure a consistent risk management based approach is applied to the consideration of such operations.

The scope of the project has been expanded to include drafting of a CAAP to provide advice as to what should be included and considered in a formal risk assessment and potential ways to mitigate residual risk to as low as reasonably practicable or to a higher level as required by and in support of the CAO. The CAAP will also assist in identifying potential risk along with providing advice on various aspects of external load operations for the benefit of operators, pilots and persons supervising the securing and detaching of loads.

Considerations during the development of the CAAP will review and adapt current best practice concepts and utilise contemporary overseas processes where this is considered to add value.

Project Objective

Phase 1: The project will amend CAO 29.6 to bring it in line with the policy for helicopter external load operations outlined in the drafting instructions for CASR Part 138. This will align its operational requirements to more contemporary strategies for controlling the safety of these operations.

CASR Part 138 polices have been extensively discussed at industry working groups and have been designed using a principle adopting modern international practices for these operations.

Phase 2: Development of a CAAP

Rules affected

CAO 29.6


This project was originally approved by Peter Boyd Executive Manager Standards Division on 22 November 2012.

The scope of the project was expanded in 23 August 2013 to include Human External Sling loads and the drafting of a CAAP.

Project management

Project Leader: Damien Fing

Project Sponsor: Executive Manager CASA Operations Division

Standards Officer/s: Dale South

Project Priority