Introductory flights are designed to allow people to be taken on air experience tours in aircraft. Provided the following conditions are met, it is not necessary for the pilot to be an instructor or for the flight to be operated under commercial air transport rules. The flight must be performed either via a UK approved training organisation (ATO) or declared training organisation (DTO) with its principal place of business in the UK, or through an organisation created to promote aerial sport or leisure aviation and based in the UK, on the condition that:
- The aircraft is either owned or dry leased by the organisation;
- Any profit made from the flights are kept within the organisation; and
- If non-members of the organisation are involved, for example members of the public, the flights represent only a marginal activity of the organisation.
Part 21 and non-Part 21 aircraft may be used; however they must have either a valid Certificate of Airworthiness, or be a type approved permit to fly aircraft or a type formally holding a UK Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA) in respect of which there is a Type Responsibility Agreement (TRA) with the CAA under BCAR A5-1 which is already allowed to be used for remunerated training and self-fly hire within the terms of the relevant exemptions.
“Part 21 aircraft” means an aircraft which is required to hold a UK Certificate of Airworthiness or a UK restricted Certificate of Airworthiness by the UK Basic Regulation (UK Regulation EU 2018/1139) and any implementing rules adopted by the UK in accordance with that Regulation.
“Non-Part 21 aircraft” means an aircraft which holds a UK Certificate of Airworthiness or a UK Permit to Fly issued in accordance with the ANO.
We would expect these flights to last around 30 to 90 minutes, although for gliders this may vary depending on the weather. In the case of aeroplanes and helicopters, they must return to the place of departure.
They are not designed, and should not be sold, to replace the traditional trial lesson in which a qualified instructor would typically give a demonstration of the controls and some flight training exercises with the participant handling the aircraft. Where the flight is conducted by a pilot who does NOT hold a valid instructor certificate, control of the aircraft must not be handed over to the passenger under any circumstances. Flight time as a passenger on an introductory flight will not count as training towards the grant of a pilot’s licence.
If the customer wishes to handle the controls, a trial lesson must be booked, and an appropriate instructor must be rostered for the flight.
While holders of private licences may conduct introductory flights, they may not personally receive any payment for doing so.
Further guidance is available here: CAP 1653: Introductory Flights Guidance