Aerodromes, flying schools and individual pilots are being asked to report any concerns they may have that public transport flights are taking place illegally. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it is keen to hear from anyone who suspects that a company or individual may be operating paid passenger or cargo flights without holding the required Air Operators Certificate (AOC). Such flights are not subject to the same safety oversight as that required of legitimate operators.
Although the vast majority of passenger flights operated within Europe are carried out by companies with an AOC, some unscrupulous operators choose to ignore the legal requirements, the CAA said.
Bob Jones, Head of Flight Operations at the CAA, said: “Most companies planning to undertake work that legally requires an AOC abide by the law and hold the certificate. However, as in all walks of life, there are some companies and individuals who choose to ignore the requirements and operate illegal public transport flights.
“Not only is this a potential safety issue, in that extra procedures, training and checks required for an AOC may not have taken place, but also passengers’ life insurances may be invalidated. We also get frequent complaints from legitimate operators who comply with the requirements associated with holding an AOC. It is unfair on these legitimate operators to see others flout the rules.”
A list of current AOC holders is freely available on the CAA website www.caa.co.uk/aocholders allowing passengers to check an operator’s credentials before they fly. Non UK operators are also required to hold an AOC granted by their own state. The Department for Transport oversees foreign companies operating in the UK (tel. 020 7944 6377).
Examples of flights that require an AOC include:
· Scheduled and charter airline flights
· A businessman paying to be flown to a meeting in a light aircraft that he does not own
· Paying for a helicopter flight to motor racing or horse racing events
· A pleasure flight at an air display or other event
· Any other flight where someone pays to be carried as a passenger unless they are sharing the direct costs with the pilot.
Anyone who suspects illegal public transport flights are taking place should contact the CAA using our online reporting form at: www.caa.co.uk/fcs1520 or email IET@caa.co.uk