Are You Planning An Aviation Event? What You Should Know!

By Juri Keyter

Recreation Aviation Administration - South Africa (RAASA) hosted a Special Air Events workshop at their office located at Rand Airport on Saturday 18 February 2012. Presenters included Neil de Lange (RAASA Chief Executive Officer), Pierre Laubscher (RAASA Operations Manager) and Brad Bennett.

In simple terms, an event where any form of aviation is used to compete or to entertain spectators, regardless if spectators pay to attend or not, with or without a scheduled program, is considered a special air event and you require approval from RAASA to host the event. Of course, a fly-in or a breakfast fly-away, where pilots entertain themselves is not considered to be a special air event.

As a result of incidents at air events in the past, to improve safety at air events and to mitigate or limit risk or possible litigation against air event organisers when things go wrong, the Civil Aviation Authority of South Africa signed a memorandum of agreement with RAASA to determine and set flight related rules applicable to both type certified aircraft as well as non-type certified aircraft when such aircraft engage in any activity which could be construed as a special air event. This creates the opportunity for general aviation in South Africa to regulate itself before law makers and politicians with no aviation experience create and enforce laws to the detriment of aviation.

RAASA created the current set of regulations and requirements in conjunction with other experts in the industry but Neil encouraged contribution and comments to constantly improve and include aspects that may have been excluded thus far. It must be noted that the different forms of aviation have different requirements or limitations and that it is imperative that everyone participate in keeping the event regulations current and practically implementable. Some parts in the regulation may not be applicable to an event as the risk that is mitigated by the regulation may not be present at your event and every part of the regulation should and will be considered within reason.

The special air event regulation or authorisation only spans the jurisdiction of RAASA and excludes other possible requirements or regulations such as municipal laws, landowner authorisation, possible law enforcement restrictions in the area etc. and event organisers must make sure that they include these aspects in their planning and applications. RAASA and ASSA (Air Show South Africa) have many resources and experienced people available who may be able to assist you with your planning or at least guide you through the process of planning your event, all the way to the execution and post event reporting.

From an air traffic control perspective, it is illegal to use an unqualified controller even if it is advisory only. The law states that a person providing an Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) should be trained and hold a suitable qualification to perform this duty. On the bright side, ATNS have a division providing ATC and AFIS services free of charge at special air events with the only expense to organisers being lodging (if at remote locations) and beverages during the event.

There are many aspects and requirements to host a special air event and many of those will be arranged or managed by RAASA on your behalf. Apart from registering a temporary restricted air space for the event, frequencies, scheduling ATNS (if required), publishing the event, NOTAMs etc. there are many other functions RAASA and the event organisers have to consider or comply with and it is therefore imperative that event planning is started at least 5 months before the event. This is to ensure that organisers have adequate time to arrange and comply with regulations they probably don't know about until the process starts. The RAASA prescribed timeline was therefore introduced to assist organisers with their planning and application process.

Special Air Event Application Timeline:
150 days prior to event:
∑ The event organiser or ASSA shall submit the completed air show application forms with a letter of recommendation, and any other relevant supporting documentation to the RAASA Special Air Events department, no less than 150 days prior to the proposed date of the event.

120 days prior to event:
∑ All Safety Officers and Flight Directors need to be appointed and confirmed no less than 120 days prior to the event, with contingency plans in place should the allocated persons not be available.

90 days prior to event:
∑ Formal application for Special Air Events (Not Air shows) not requiring Class C airspace, but where Class G airspace will be acceptable.
∑ Final Application fees for a Special Air Event need to be paid.

60 days prior to event:
∑ A provisional program needs to be drawn up as well as a ground plan and layout for the event detailing Airside vs. Public side/Crowd line, emergency vehicles parking, ATC tower, PA stand/tower, emergency exits, display aircraft parking, arriving aircraft parking etc.

30 days prior to event:
∑ All final arrangements and supporting documentation needs to be complete and any alterations/changes or additions need to be submitted to RAASA.
∑ Signed Pre Event Audit.
∑ Signed Disaster Management plan.
∑ Evacuation Plan.
∑ Copy of public liability insurance.
∑ Provisional program.
∑ A list of names of all persons that will be validated by the safety officer for flat display prior to the show.
∑ Copy of pilots briefing and safety minima's.
∑ Copy of ground plan airfield/event layout.
∑ All names and contact details of emergency services personnel i.e. phone numbers where persons are reachable and e-mail addresses.
∑ All names and contact details of all other personnel and committee members that will have an active duty or function on the day of the event.
∑ Written confirmation that all emergency services, SAP and Traffic have been alerted, including adherence to any applicable Laws and Municipal by laws.
∑ Should the event be cancelled due to insufficient sponsorship, funding, planning, personnel, participation or any other valid reason, notification needs to be submitted to RAASA no less than 30 days prior to the event.
∑ Updated report including any amendments to administration, programs etc. to RAASA that Display Pilots/Teams, Public announcer, Media, and any other arrangements are on track and ready for event.
∑ Strict management plan should be in place and ready to be implemented during the actual air show in terms of arrivals and departures, Organisers, Safety Officers and ATCs may allocate pre-determined times for all arrivals and departures, no other times will be accommodated if the air show program does not permit these delays. The air show program takes preference over GA arrivals and departures except in the case of prior arrangements.
∑ Detailed plan of operations for the day, i.e. type and number of radios or other forms of communications, positions of all marshals, airside photographers' positions and permitted areas, etc.

7 Days prior to event:
∑ Final Confirmation that all arrangements, participants, programs etc. are complete (ASSA may assist the Organiser in this regard).
∑ RAASA will issue a Special Air Event permit within the remaining Seven days prior to the event directly to the Event Organiser and/or Safety Officer.

For more information, please visit or

Events 2012

Copyright © 2024 Pilot's Post PTY Ltd
The information, views and opinions by the authors contributing to Pilotís Post are not necessarily those of the editor or other writers at Pilotís Post.