Specialised Operations


As of 21 April 2017 Part-SPO of Reg. No 965/2012 applies for all operators conducting commercial specialised flight operations with airplanes and helicopters or non-commercial specialised operations with complex motor-powered aircraft.

For non-commercial specialised operations with other than complex motor-powered aircraft (airplanes and helicopters) Part-NCO of Reg. No 965/2012 has been applicable since 25 August, NCO.SPEC regulations in particular.
“Specialised operation” (SPO) means any operation other than commercial air transport where the aircraft is used for specialised activities such as agriculture, construction, photography, surveying, observation and patrol or aerial advertisement. Specialised operations are also listed in the Guidance Material (GM) of Reg. No 965/2012 (GM1 SPO. GEN.005). This GM mentions the following explanatory examples: helicopter external loads operations, human external cargo operations, glider towing, parachute operations or acrobatic flights.
 
High-risk commercial specialised operation” means any commercial specialised aircraft operation carried out over an area where the safety of third parties on the ground is likely to be endangered in the event of an emergency, or, as determined by the competent authority of the place where the operation is conducted, any commercial specialised aircraft operation that, due to its specific nature and the local environment in which it is conducted, poses a high-risk, in particular to third parties on the ground.
After 21 April 2017 Annex VIII (Part-SPO of Reg. No 965/2012) is applicable for all operators affected and for specialised operations with airplanes as well as helicopters. 

Part-SPO basically replaces the old term «aerial work» but includes some other specialised operations as well. Thus far, such operations were mainly conducted within the framework of an AOC.

Operators holding a current AOC are required to declare their SPO activities in accordance with ORO.DEC.100 and - if applicable - apply for the authorisation of high-risk specialised operations.

It needs to be emphasized that, specialised operations are not covered by the scope of an AOC. However, an already existing management system of AOC holders may be complemented to include the relevant requirements for SPO operations.
Besides Part-SPO, Part-ORO also applies, except for non-commercial specialised operations with other than complex motor powered aircraft (covered by NCO.SPEC).

Without prejudice to the applicability of Part-SPO and Part-ORO also Part-SPA may be applicable to every SPO-flight operation if an appropriate specific approval (e.g. RVSM, Dangerous Goods) has been applied for.
The following parts and regulations (including alternative means of compliance/AMC and guidance material/GM) of Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 are to be considered:
 
(n)CMPA = (non)-complex motor-powered aircraft

Definition of CMPA and nCMPA

*Note: some SPO operations (competition flights or flying displays, parachute dropping, sailplane towing and aerobatic flights) according to SPO.GEN.005 lit. c may, under certain conditions, be subject to compliance with Part-NCO.
For compliance with Part-ORO and Part-SPO operators must have established the following:
  • a management system (see especially the relevant AMCs) and a manual (structure according to AMC4 ORO.MLR.100) which describes flight operations including a safety management system (SMS) and a compliance monitoring system (CMS).
  • a risk assessment providing the basis for operator-specific standard operating procedures (SOPs). Such SOPs must conform to the flight operations conducted as well as to the aircraft type.
  • an approved MEL.

Additionally, operators of aircraft used for commercial specialised operations have to - in accordance with M.A.201 lit f (for complex motor-powered aircraft) and M.A.201 lit h (for other than complex aircraft) of Reg. (EU) No 1321/2014 - ensure that:
  • duties associated with the continuing airworthiness maintenance are performed by a (private or contracted) CAMO and
  • the maintenance of the aircraft is carried out by a company certified according to Part-M Subpart F or Part-145 of Reg. (EU) No 1321/2014.

In addition, the operator conducting commercial specialised operations must implement a technical logbook which complies with the requirements of M.A.306 of Reg. (EU) No 1321/2014.

Before starting operations the SPO operator has to submit a declaration in accordance with ORO.DEC.100 to the competent authority of the State where the principal place of business is located or where the operator is residing.

For SPO operators with the principal place of business or place of residence in Austria, Austro Control GmbH provides a declaration form available for download.

The SPO operator shall fill out this declaration and submit it to Austro Control GmbH. Automatically, the operator becomes subject to the official oversight programme.

After receiving the declaration, ACG will issue a standard letter of acknowledgement of receipt to the SPO operator within 10 days. A copy of the declaration shall be carried on board as a receipt for e.g. ramp inspections.
Certain commercial SPO operations are classified as high-risk operations. For such high-risk operations - provided that the SPO operation is commercial - the operator requires prior approval by the competent authority before the operation(s) may be started.

The application shall contain and explain inter alia the associated standard operations procedures (SOPs) and the relevant risk assessment(s) for the planned operation(s).

In case the requirements are met, Austro Control GmbH will issue the authorisation for commercial high-risk operations (EASA Form 151).

Download:
Application Form

According to ORO.SPO.110 lit. a) Austro Control GmbH has specified the following SPO-types as (subject to approval) commercial specialised high-risk operations across the federal territory of Austria:
  • external loads operations
  • human external cargo operations
  • avalanche mining operations
  • power line checking flights
  • every type of operation whose implementation undercuts existing protection standards (e.g. minimum flight altitude, fly underneath power lines/buildings etc.) regardless of additionally required specific approvals

For further information please refer to BTH A-007:
Determination of high risk commercial specialised operations (BTH A-007)

If cross-border commercial specialised operations with high-risk are planned, ARO.OPS.150 lit f) has to be complied with.