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Organising an Aviation Event


     an Aviation

        n New Zealand there are normally            91.703 and AC 91-1. Ensure that you           a Restricted Area for specified times to
        around a dozen airshows (“Air               have read and completely understand           allow for the airshow and any practice
        Events”) every year. Some of these          all the information contained in the          periods. Note that 90 days notice is
     are repetitive events, such as Warbirds        Rule and the AC.                              required for promulgation of a Restricted
     Over Wanaka, or Classic Fighters at                                                          Area, which would normally be by way
                                                    Note that for any Aviation Event that
     Omaka. The organisers of these events                                                        of an AIP Supplement.
                                                    requires the approval of the Director, a
     have done it all before, and are aware
                                                    minimum of 90 days notice is required.        If the event involves aerobatics or high-
     of the difficulties of organising a safe
                                                    The application form (CAA 24091/03) is        performance aircraft it may also be
     and crowd-pleasing event. This article
                                                    available on the CAA web site, www.caa.       necessary to include part of the CTA
     is designed to assist first-time organisers
                                           An event approval is required        above the airfield within any restricted
     of new events by providing information,
                                                    for any event where more than three           area promulgated, and this will require
     tips and traps that others have learnt in
                                                    aircraft are involved (unless in a single     consultation with the affected ATC unit.
     organising air displays. It can also be used
                                                    formation), or where more than 500
     as a useful reminder of things to consider                                                   If the event is to be staged at an un-
                                                    people are spectators. If in doubt, ask!
     by individuals or organisations that have                                                    controlled venue, the process is basically
     previous experience in running shows.          It is strongly advised that you contact the   the same, except that there will now be
                                                    CAA for advice before you begin detailed      a requirement to specify the area to be
     This article only covers the air side of
                                                    planning for your event. The best contacts    protected. This is often done by defining
     such an event. It does not discuss all
                                                    will be your local Field Safety Adviser       a circle of a three or five nautical mile
     the myriad of other details that must
                                                    (see page 22), or the GA Group – see the      radius around the airfield or venue,
     be attended to, such as parking, vehicle
                                                    CAA web site for contact details.             up to an appropriate altitude. Again,
     access, toilets, catering, publicity, and so
                                                                                                  promulgating the restricted airspace
     on. Experienced event organisers will
                                                                                                  will require the approval of the airfield
     tell you that these aspects of organisation    Airspace                                      operator or venue owner, and the CAA
     invariably take up much more time
                                                    For any display other than a low-key          will want to see evidence of consultation
     than most people think, and are a much
                                                    event at a quiet locality, it is strongly     before designating the Restricted Area.
     more daunting task than the (relatively)
                                                    advised that the organisers put in place
     simple task of running the air event. You                                                    Even if the event does not require
                                                    some form of airspace restriction. This
     should also be aware of any local body                                                       restricted airspace, it is strongly advised
                                                    will enable the organisers to control who
     requirements, as well as the increasing                                                      that the organisers arrange for publication
                                                    flies in the airspace during the event.
     interest of other agencies (eg, Police, and                                                  of an AIP Supplement. This requires a
     OSH) in such events. In particular, such       If the event is being held at an aerodrome    minimum of 90 days notice, and there
     agencies will be very interested in your       with Air Traffic Control (ATC), it will       are reminders of the cut-off dates in
     Emergency Plan in the event something          probably not be necessary to establish        every issue of Vector (see page 21). It is
     goes amiss.                                    restricted airspace, unless the event is      inappropriate to use a NOTAM for pre-
                                                    a major one with a significant affect on      planned events such as these. A NOTAM
     The Rules                                      normal air traffic. With the agreement
                                                    of the airfield operator and Airways
                                                                                                  should only be used for situations of
                                                                                                  an urgent and temporary nature, such
     Aviation Events, Air Shows, and Aero-          Corporation, the Control Zone (or             as an unforeseen aerodrome closure or
     batic flights are all covered in CAR           portions of it) can be promulgated as         significant hazard.

1                                                                     VECTOR – Pointing to Safer Aviation     November / December 2006
Display and                                    Safety – Spectator                           Hints for a Better Show
Crowd Lines                                    Control                                      Variety is the spice of life – the same
                                                                                            goes for air events. Provide a mixture of
The requirements for display lines             One of the biggest dangers at air events
                                                                                            activities. Where you have two similar
are well documented in the Rule and            is the mixture of aircraft and spectators.
                                                                                            aircraft types doing similar routines,
AC. At most venues, there is often             The author of this article has vivid
                                                                                            then separate them in the programme,
little choice in where the display line        memories of watching a small child run
                                                                                            putting different aircraft in between.
and area will be. This will be dictated        through the propeller arc of a taxiing
by factors such as airfield layout,            aircraft at an airshow. How the propeller    Communications, both air-ground, and
surrounding terrain, crowd areas               missed the child will never be known,        ground to ground, are almost invariably
and visitor car parking. If there is a         but it gave a huge fright to all concerned   problems. Don’t rely on cellphones, or
choice about the display line, then the        (except the child, who ran on to mother      on hand-held radios – they always run
following issues should be considered.         unaware of his brush with death). This       out of power just when you need them
                                               incident was caused by a combination         most.
Sun – It is always preferable for the
                                               of inadequate spectator control, coupled
display line to be to the south of the                                                      Run a dress rehearsal of the ground side
                                               with lack of provision for aircraft
crowd, so that spectators are not                                                           of the event – you will be surprised how
                                               refuelling clear of the spectator area.
looking into the sun to watch display                                                       many things you didn’t think about.
aircraft.                                      An absolute requirement is that there
                                                                                            Avoid giving organisational jobs,
                                               should be no spectator access to any
Wind – Similarly, it is always preferable                                                   particularly on the day of the event, to
                                               area where aircraft are operating.
to have the wind blowing along the                                                          anyone flying in the show. The last thing
                                               Secure fencing (not a rope barrier) and
crowd line (best), or away from the                                                         a display pilot needs is to be worrying
                                               marshals should always be between any        about anything other than flying.
crowd (okay), but not towards the crowd.
                                               spectators and any running aircraft.
A wind towards the crowd has the                                                            Depending on the size of the event, it
double disadvantage of the spectators          Provision must be made for aircraft          is a good idea to nominate a suitably
looking into wind, and also it tends to        refuelling during an airshow. This           experienced person to act as your Safety
blow display aircraft towards the crowd        will either be through the use of fixed      Officer. This person should have no other
line, which is never a good thing.             pumps, or a mobile tanker. If fixed          tasks to perform, and has a mandate to
                                               pumps are used, then either there must       keep an eye on all facets of the event
Angled display line – Where possible
                                               be controlled and secure taxi access to      organisation and conduct.
it is nice if the display line has a bend in
                                               the pumps, or aircraft should be shut
the middle, towards the crowd. This will
                                               down in a clear area and towed to the
enable display aircraft to do a curved
                                               pumps. Under no circumstances should
flypast, banked towards the crowd,
                                               aircraft taxi to pumps that are not secure
without infringing the display line.
                                               from public access.

Pilot Qualifications                           If at all possible it is recommended
                                               that event organisers arrange for a
and Practice                                   mobile tanker for airshow refuelling. It
                                               minimises aircraft ground movements,
Event organisers must ensure that
                                               and generally enhances aircraft security
display pilots are appropriately licensed,
                                               and spectator safety.
rated, qualified, insured, and in
current practice for the event they will
undertake. It should be an absolute            Briefings
condition of the display that the
                                               An essential element for a good event
organisers sight all relevant docu-
                                               is a comprehensive briefing that all
mentation from the pilots. Failure
                                               participants (flight and ground) MUST
to do so could jeopardise things like
                                               attend. The briefing should at least
event insurance. Invariably, someone
will turn up to the event having
forgotten to bring some required               • the event programme
documentation. This puts the organiser
                                               • procedures
in a compromised position. The rule
must be, ‘no documents, no fly’.               • communications.

The organisers should also insist on           Always provide a written copy
observing a practice of the proposed           of the brief – it reduces the
routine from each display act. Once a          number of times you have
display has been observed and approved,        to answer the same question
it must not be changed without the             because someone wasn’t
consent of the organisers.                     listening the first time!

November / December 2006         VECTOR – Pointing to Safer Aviation                                                                    13

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