Suspension of TFI Operations

Good morning members,

Tandem Flight Instruction (TFI) for reward has been a contentious topic for many years, as the Civil Aviation Regulation expressly forbids “flipping” (see the Civil Aviation Regulations Part 141). There have been a number of attempts to regulate these activities, and TFI pilots have more recently made use of a regulatory loophole in the Air Services Act whereby these flights are considered an “Introductory Flight Experience”. This was done with knowledge of RAASA (and later SACAA) who have proposed various regulatory options.

However, SACAA recently stated that “ATOs are contravening Civil Aviation Regulation 96.01.1 (7) by conducting flipping flights under the guise of introductory flights.”

Flipping is defined as “the carrying of fare-paying passengers for the purpose of sight-seeing“.

The Introductory Flight Experience

The SACAA have provided a definition of an Introductory Flight Experience:

An introductory flight conducted at an ATO is for the purpose of providing air experience to a student or learner and such flight is preceded by a full pre-flight briefing and concluded with a full post flight debriefing with comments entered into a student training file.

Also “A student or learner is deemed to be a person whose sole intention is to be enrolled at an ATO/DTO for the purposes of receiving training towards the issuance of a license under Part 61 and 62 of the regulations.

Disappearing loophole

The “Introductory Flight Experience” loophole for TFI flights under the SAHPA ATO has been closed by SACAA. After surveillance by SACAA at Signal Hill, various SACAA officials have warned that TFI operations are not in accordance with the definition of Introductory Flight Experiences and are instead deemed to be flipping.

Pilots are therefore urged to read the following documents to understand the difference between Introductory Flight Experiences and Flipping:

Not just a parking ticket

SACAA has pointed out that the Civil Aviation Regulations, Part 185.01.2 (d)(i) & (f) & (g) are very clear that these are not minor violations, but are criminal infringements. Any pilot that is caught conducting flipping flights under the SAHPA ATO will therefore be subject to SACAA enforcement action.

The SAHPA Committee cannot condone and will not permit any flipping flights under the SAHPA ATO. This does not affect ab-initio training. However, please take note that:

  • The SAHPA ATO certificate expires in February 2023, after which no more training activities may take place.
  • Schools which already have a DTO Certificate may operate under their SACAA-PEL Training approved manual, or as directed by SACAA PEL Department.
  • Schools which already have a DTO Certificate may no longer operate under the SAHPA ATO as their sub-ATO status has been converted.

Impact on Jobs

The SAHPA committee has heard many concerns that this decision by SACAA will have a significant impact on the TFI pilots and support staff who earn an income from the TFI-related activities. SACAA has provided regulatory alternatives, but it remains to be seen whether these are appropriate for the needs of the tandem flight industry.

What now?

On Monday the 24th October 2022, SAHPA hosted a meeting with instructors. A small group of PG pilots have been volunteered/been nominated by those in attendance, to attend the SACAA ASO workshop on Thursday 27th October (10-12am) to discuss two related regulatory changes. It is hoped that SACAA will engage in further consultative workshops to find a suitable and long-term regulatory solution.

DTO schools are encouraged to contact their assigned SACAA POI for guidance.

The SAHPA Committee