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Guideline No. 28: Fixed Wing Aircraft | Safety Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry in Ontario

  • ISBN: 978-1-4249-9952-1
  • Issued: November 1990
  • Revised: June 2009
  • Content last reviewed: August 2010

Fixed Wing Aircraft

The following procedures are recommended for all fixed wing aircraft work. When applicable, this Guideline should also be read in conjunction with Guideline #5 (Stunt Plan) , and Guideline #17 (Camera Vehicles) .

Fixed wing aircraft (i.e. aircraft, gliders, ultra lights) flying may be adversely affected by changing natural conditions or adverse weather conditions such as wind, temperature and time of day.

Man made conditions such as weight, externally mounted equipment and the discharge of pyrotechnics and/or smoke can also affect the pilot's ability to fly safely. Special precautions should be taken to ensure safety when working around aircraft that are operating in close proximity to camera, cast and crew, including taxiing, take off and landing.

It should be noted that, except where necessary for takeoff or landing, Transport Canada prohibits the operation of an aircraft below the following altitudes:

  1. Over Congested Areas: Over any congested area of a city, town or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 300 metres (1,000 feet) above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 600 metres (2,000 feet) of the aircraft.
  2. Over other than Congested Areas: An altitude of 150 metres (500 feet) above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In that case, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 150 metres (500 feet) to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure.
  1. All Pilots in Command should possess an authorization pursuant to the appropriate section of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). Such authorization is not always required, depending on the location of the intended shoot. Contact Transport Canada General Aviation if unsure whether an authorization is required, sixty (60) days notice is recommended, if possible.
  2. The Pilot in Command is at all times the final authority over his/her airplane and should be in command over his/her flight operations and/or related activities.
  3. Communications: The Aerial Coordinator and/or Pilot in Command will coordinate with the designated production representative and implement a plan for communications between the participants in the air and on the ground. These may include, but are not limited to, ground contact personnel, air to ground radio communication, designated frequencies or channels, visual signs, abort signals and hand signals. Single channel communication between ground and air should be established and maintained at all times during the operation of the aircraft using only one ground contact.
  4. Necessary Crew and Persons Authorized
    1. Flight operations closer than 150 metres (500 feet) to persons will include only those persons consenting to be in close proximity to the aircraft and who are directly involved and necessary for the filming.
    2. The Aerial Coordinator and/or Pilot in Command and the designated security personnel should generally maintain an area perimeter to ensure that no unauthorized persons come within 150 metres (500 feet) of the flight operations. See Transport Canada / Canadian Aviation Regulations Standards (CARS) 623.07 for special considerations.
  5. A pre-planned stunt or special effect sequence should not be changed in any way without the authorization of the Aerial Coordinator and/or Pilot in Command.
  6. At the start of each day’s filming the Aerial Coordinator and/or Pilot in Command and the designated production representative should conduct a safety meeting for the production staff of those persons necessary for filming, including emergency, safety and security personnel.

    Safety meetings should be carried out in an area as free of noise and other distractions as possible and attendance should be limited to flight crews, flight crew support staff, parachutists, ground performers (e.g. pyrotechnic teams, announcers, etc.) and key event personnel. Key event personnel are the persons responsible for the air and ground safety and emergency operations for the event. Each participant's attendance at the briefing should be verified by roll call or otherwise and a record retained for submission to Transport Canada Aviation, if requested. Performers who are not briefed should not be permitted to participate in the flight program on that day.

  7. The Aerial Coordinator and/or Pilot in Command should designate one (1) person as the ground safety contact with no other responsibilities. This individual should attend any relevant safety meetings for production staff.
  8. If there is a question as to the safety of any aerial filming sequence involving low, over-the-camera shots, a safety meeting should be held between the Aerial Coordinator and/or Pilot in Command and concerned persons as to whether the use of a locked-off camera is necessary.
  9. The production company must notify all cast and crew members and the front of the studio call sheet should contain a statement to the effect that: "An aircraft is being used and will be flown in close proximity to crew and equipment. Any concerns should be brought to the attention of the Production Manager or 1st AD prior to any filming."
  10. Cast, crew, and equipment should be held in a protected area on the ground at all times.
  11. If an aircraft is being filmed with the engine running, adequate safety precautions should be taken in connection with activity in front of the propeller, which includes designated ground personnel.
  12. There should be no smoking within 33 metres (100 feet) of the aircraft or fuel support truck.
  13. Any damage or question of damage to an aircraft should be reported immediately to the Aerial Coordinator and/or Pilot in Command.
  14. Each end of an operational runway or landing area should be cleared during take-off and landing and appropriate safety precautions should be taken as to the placement of camera equipment when filming the take-off or landing.
  15. Low level acrobatic manoeuvres should be conducted in a direction which will most closely parallel the boundaries of the designated crew and equipment area or in a direction away from such areas.

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