Specialised Operations (SPO)

Specialised operations (SPO) means any operation other than commercial air transport where the aircraft is used for specialised activities such as:

  • agriculture
  • construction
  • photography
  • surveying
  • observation and patrol
  • aerial advertisement

Specialised operations are governed by Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on air operations. They have been introduced into the EU set of harmonised rules through Regulation (EU) No 379/2014 that amends Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on air operations by complementing it with Part-SPO.

Regulation (EU) No 379/2014 was adopted by the European Commission on 7 April 2014 and published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 24/04/2014. Regulation (EU) No 379/2014 applies from 1 July 2014. However, a horizontal opt-out lasts in the majority of Member States until 21 April 2017, meaning that those Member States will start implementing Regulation (EU) No 379/2014 on 21 April 2017.

Operators/aircraft that fall under Regulation (EU) No 965/2012:

  • Operators who have their principal place of business (for companies) or are residing (for natural persons) in a EU MS regardless of the State of Registry of their aircraft
  • Aircraft used in commercial SPO operations must have a C of A in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 748/2012, meaning the aircraft must be registered in an EU Member State. Alternatively, the aircraft may be under a wet leasing-in or a dry leasing-in arrangement. In those cases, the aircraft may remain in a third country register. There are however certain conditions that have to be met before the operator may lease-in third country registered aircraft. There is no requirement for aircraft registration in non-commercial SPO operations.

Operators/operations/aircraft that do not fall under Regulation (EU) No 965/2012, but are regulated in accordance with Member States national legislation:

  • Specialised commercial and non-commercial operations of aircraft falling under Annex II to the basic Regulation (EC) No 216/2008
  • Military, customs, police, search and rescue, firefighting, coastguard or similar activities or services
  • Third country operators of specialised commercial and non-commercial operations

Operations that fall under Part-SPO

  • Specialised non-commercial operations using complex aeroplanes and helicopters;
  • All specialised commercial operations with aeroplanes and helicopters;
  • Specialised commercial operations of balloons and sailplanes (in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/1199, the applicability of Part-SPO to commercial specialised operations with balloons and sailplanes has been deferred to 8 April 2018 in the case of balloons and from 8 April 2019 in the case of sailplanes, unless otherwise decided by a Member State)

Operations and aircraft that do not fall under Part-SPO, but fall under Part-NCO

  • Specialised non-commercial operation of non-complex aeroplanes and helicopters;
  • Certain specialised commercial operations of non-complex aeroplanes and helicopters in accordance with SPO.GEN.005(c) such as:
  1. competition flights or flying displays, on the condition that the remuneration or any valuable consideration given for such flights is limited to recovery of direct costs and a proportionate contribution to annual costs, as well as prizes of no more than a value specified by the competent authority; and
  2. parachute dropping, sailplane towing or aerobatic flights performed either by a training organisation having its principal place of business in a Member State and approved in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011, or by an organisation created with the aim of promoting aerial sport or leisure aviation, on the condition that the aircraft is operated by the organisation on the basis of ownership or dry lease, that the flight does not generate profits distributed outside of the organisation, and that whenever non-members of the organisation are involved, such flights represent only a marginal activity of the organisation.
  • specialised non-commercial operations of balloons and sailplanes (in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/1199, the applicability of Part-NCO to non-commercial specialised operations with balloons and sailplanes has been deferred to 8 April 2018 in the case of balloons and from 8 April 2019 in the case of sailplanes, unless otherwise decided by a Member State)

Part-SPO includes the implementing rules (IRs) for commercial specialised air operations with aeroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes and balloons and for non-commercial specialised air operations with complex aeroplanes and complex helicopters.

The associated Decisions containing the Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) are published on the EASA website.
Diagrams illustrating the rule structure are available here.
More details on the regulations page, including links to the EASA AMC and GM.

Commercial specialised air operations with any aircraft(*) and non-commercial specialised air operations with complex aeroplanes and complex helicopters may be conducted as soon as the SPO operator submits a declaration to its competent authority. However, some commercial specialised operations of high risk, especially for third parties on the ground, would need to be authorised by the competent authority. An operator who engages in such ‘high risk commercial specialised operations’ must therefore apply for an authorisation, in addition to the declaration it has submitted.

"High risk commercial specialised operation” means:

  1. any commercial specialised aircraft operation carried out over an area where the safety of third parties on the ground is likely to be endangered in the event of an emergency, or
  2. as determined by the competent authority of the place where the operation is conducted, any commercial specialised aircraft operation that, due to its specific nature and the local environment in which it is conducted, poses a high risk, in particular to third parties on the ground.

Non-commercial specialised operations with other than complex motor-powered aircraft do not submit declarations.

 

Rule applicability for SPO:

  SPO
Rule applicability

COM

NCC

NCO

Cover Regulation

Definitions
Part-ARO - - -
Part-ORO -
Part-CAT - - -
Part-SPA
Part-NCC - - -
Part-NCO - -
Part-SPO  
  • SPO (COM)
  • Commercial specialised operations with complex and non-complex aircraft
  • SPO (NCC)
  • Non-commercial specialised operations with complex aircraft
  • SPO (NCO)
  • Non-commercial specialised operations with non-complex aircraft

Part-SPO: structure

  • .GEN – general requirements
  • .OP – operational procedures
  • .POL – performance and operating limitations
  • .IDE – instruments, data, equipment
    • .A, .H, .S, .B - aeroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes, balloons
  • .SPEC – specific requirements
    • .HESLO – helicopter external sling load operations
    • .HEC – human external cargo operations
    • .PAR – parachute operations
    • .ABF – aerobatic flights

Part-ORO: applicability of subparts to SPO operators

Part-ORO

Operator

SPO (COM)

SPO (NCC)

.GEN

.AOC

- -

.DEC

.SPO

-

.MLR

-

.SEC

.FC


Sections 1 and 3


Section 1

.CC

- -

.TC

  -

.FTL

- -
Applicable
Partly applicable

Part-SPA: applicability of subparts to SPO operators

Part-SPA SPO Operator

.GEN

.PBN

.MNPS

.RVSM

.LVO

.ETOPS

-

.DG

.NVIS

-

.HHO

-

.HEMS

-
Applicable
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