When developing the European AIR OPS rules, the Agency applied the air operation classification shown below.
This classification was used to develop a different set of technical rules (e.g. for CAT, NCC, NCO, SPO operations) taking into account the principle of proportionality and the need for different safety levels. The safety levels were based on a risk hierarchy ranging from operations with a fare-paying CAT passenger which require the highest safety level to non-commercial single-pilot operations with non-complex aircraft (NCO) which require a proportionate lower safety level.
Applicable OPS rules for NCO and NCC operators
The Air Operations Regulation consists of 8 Annexes. The following chart summarises which Annexes are applicable to NCO and NCC operators.
|Rule applicability||NCO operator||NCC operator|
|Annex I: Definitions||containing definitions of terms||containing definitions of terms|
|Annex II: Part-ARO|
|Annex III: Part-ORO||partly applies to NCC|
|Annex IV: Part-CAT|
|Annex V: Part-SPA||only if a SPA operation is needed||only if a SPA operation is needed|
|Annex VI: Part-NCC||
technical rules for NCC operations
|Annex VII: Part-NCO||technical rules for NCO operations|
|Annex VIII: Part-SPO|
The working method to develop the non-commercial rules
The rules applicable to NCO and NCC operators were developed together with two different rulemaking groups. These rulemaking groups consisted of all relevant stakeholders, in particular representatives from general aviation associations such as EAS, AAOPA, EBAA, NBAA and IBAC; furthermore, representatives from manufacturers, staff associations, national aviation authorities and EASA experts.
The rulemaking groups reached decisions by consensus of all members.
The rulemaking groups took into account the comments and reactions received from stakeholders during the two public consultation procedures (NPA consultation and CRD consultation).
The development of non-commercial rules was based on the following objectives:
- to maintain a proportionate level of safety depending on the complexity of the aircraft;
- to ensure proportionate rules between NCO and NCC operations;
- to guarantee sufficient flexibility and efficiency for operators and authorities;
- to be compliant with ICAO standards and recommended practices (SARPs) of Annex 6 Part II and Part III Sections III as far as feasible; and
- to be consistent with the rules of other Annexes under the AIR OPS Regulation.
Difference between NCO and NCC
To provide proportionate rules, the Agency proposed two different sets of rules for non-commercial operations depending on the complexity of the aircraft operated. For the operation of non-complex aircraft (aeroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes, balloons) proportionate basic safety rules apply (Part-NCO). For the operation of complex aircraft (aeroplanes, helicopters) more advanced safety rules apply (Part-NCC and partly Part-ORO), particularly taking into account that complex aircraft may carry a larger number of passengers and usually require professional teams for their operations.
The term NCC stands for non-commercial operations with complex motor-powered aircraft.
The term NCO stands for non-commercial operations with other-than-complex aircraft.
The term ‘complex motor-powered aircraft’ is defined in the Basic Regulation (EC No 216/2008) as follows:
‘complex motor-powered aircraft’ shall mean:
(i) an aeroplane:
- with a maximum certificated take-off mass exceeding 5 700 kg, or
- certificated for a maximum passenger seating configuration of more than nineteen, or
- certificated for operation with a minimum crew of at least two pilots, or
- equipped with (a) turbojet engine(s) or more than one turboprop engine, or
(ii) a helicopter certificated:
- for a maximum take-off mass exceeding 3 175 kg, or
- for a maximum passenger seating configuration of more than nine, or
- for operation with a minimum crew of at least two pilots, or
(iii) a tilt rotor aircraft;
Different from the Basic Regulation definition, ICAO defines a large aeroplane (in Annex 6 Part II) as follows:
“An aeroplane of a maximum certificated take-off mass of over 5 700 kg.”
The definition of a complex motor-powered aeroplane as defined in the Basic Regulation deviates from the ICAO definition of a large aeroplane insofar as a complex motor-powered aeroplane includes expressively a multi-engine turboprop aeroplane with a maximum take-off mass at or below 5,7t. Under ICAO SARPs, such an aeroplane is classified as a small aeroplane. As stipulated in the Essential Requirements for Air Operations (Annex IV of the Basic Regulation), for such aeroplanes the European rules are intentionally stricter than ICAO SARPs. For such aircraft, the NCC rules apply.
Regulation (EU) No 800/2013 amending Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air operations covering non-commercial aviation
Regulation (EU) No 800/2013 adds new definitions for non-commercial aviation in Annex I, Definitions:
“ELA1 aircraft” means the following manned European Light Aircraft:
(a) an aeroplane with a Maximum Take-off Mass (MTOM) of 1 200 kg or less that is not classified as complex motor-powered aircraft;
(b) a sailplane or powered sailplane of 1 200 kg MTOM or less;
(c) a balloon with a maximum design lifting gas or hot air volume of not more than 3 400 m 3 for hot air balloons, 1 050 m 3 for gas balloons, 300 m 3 for tethered gas balloons.
“ELA2 aircraft” means the following manned European Light Aircraft:
(a) an aeroplane with a Maximum Take-off Mass (MTOM) of 2 000 kg or less that is not classified as complex motor-powered aircraft;
(b) a sailplane or powered sailplane of 2 000 kg MTOM or less;
(c) a balloon;
(d) a Very Light Rotorcraft with a MTOM not exceeding 600 kg which is of a simple design, designed to carry not more than two occupants, not powered by turbine and/or rocket engines; restricted to VFR day operations.’”