GA aircraft maintenance flights will be allowed despite coronavirus restrictions

PUBLISHED: 17:28 17 April 2020

de Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth (c) Alan Wilson, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

de Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth (c) Alan Wilson, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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In some rare good news, just as Pilot was going to press the CAA announced that despite the current COVID-19 restrictions, owners and operators of GA aircraft will be permitted to conduct aircraft maintenance flights, including engine health flights

These are permitted, where required by the engine manufacturer’s instructions or equivalent LAA/BMAA procedures for Permit-to-Fly aircraft in accordance with those requirements, once in every four weeks for a maximum duration of 30 minutes.

Aircraft should aim to remain within the circuit. Unless safety of flight requirements dictate, the aircraft should not travel beyond a 5nm radius of its current aerodrome and no dynamic manoeuvring activity is to be included in the sortie profile.

Where the engine manufacturer’s instructions indicate that the engine only needs to be run at idle or at low power whilst on the ground and no other essential maintenance is required, then no flight may be performed.

Criteria for the conduct of these flights are that while the UK Government’s social distancing policy is in place the owner or organisation operating the aircraft must maintain a log of all the aircraft movements.

As a minimum, this must include the purpose of the flight, the pilot and their licence number, the flight’s date, time and duration. This log is to be kept and if required provided immediately in electronic form to the CAA.

Only solo flights by fully qualified pilots are permitted. No other flights, including instructional sorties are allowed, and aircraft must have a valid airworthiness certificate (CofA or Permit) before a maintenance, ferry or engine health flight can take place. These provisions apply equally to UK-registered and non-UK registered GA aircraft operating in UK airspace.

Post-maintenance check flights in accordance with CAP1038 are permitted but must be kept to an absolute minimum in terms of both the number and duration of flights. They must be conducted in strict accordance with the approved maintenance or flight test profile.

Ferry flights. Flights to or from maintenance facilities for essential maintenance are permitted if such a facility is not available at the aircraft’s current location. Flights are to be by the most direct practical route with transits flown at no lower than 1,000 feet Above Ground Level (AGL).

Any requests for exceptions to these provisions are to be submitted to ga.ga@caa.gov.uk a minimum of ten days in advance of the requested date of the flight.

At all times, the measures outlined by the UK Government to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing, personal hygiene and minimising travel remain applicable, and pilots and operators undertaking flights on the basis permitted here must observe these.

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