Air experience flights approved in ex-military jets

On 30 January 2023 the UK CAA approved revenue earning passenger flights in former military jet aircraft.

Following an extensive consultation last year, the CAA has agreed that former military jet aircraft operators can now use a Safety Standard Acknowledgment and Consent (SSAC) risk analysis framework to gain permission to conduct experience flights.

The SSAC concept isn’t new, but until now has been limited to ex-military piston-engine aircraft, excluding jets. The principal behind the SSAC is that it provides a process whereby non-pilots wishing to fly in former military aircraft formally acknowledge that these aircraft types aren’t operated under the same regulatory regime as commercial aircraft and are therefore in a higher risk category.

The SSAC requires that participants acknowledge the reduced airworthiness requirement and are fully briefed on what the flight entails and what safety procedures need to be followed. The SSAC also require operators to declare aircraft maintenance programmes, minimum equipment lists, flight limitations and safety procedures, tailored specifically for the flight activity being delivered under the SSAC framework.

It was first introduced to provide warbird operators with a less onerous option than having to hold a full Air Operator Certificate (AOC), which were considered too complicated (and too expensive) for the type of aircraft operated and the type of flight experiences being provided. Companies involved in warbird experience flights such as Spitfires.com and Aero Legends have been making use of the SSAC format for a number of years and safety statistics appear to have validated the system, allowing the CAA to extend the SSAC concept to include former military jets.

In additional to operating piston-engine warbirds, Aero Legends also owns an iconic BAC Strikemaster ex-military jet and has confirmed that with its revised SSAC approval in place, fighter jet experiences will start in April 2023 from its base at North Weald Airfield, named The Squadron.

We are privileged to be the first operator providing experiences under the revised SSAC framework,” said a statement from Aero Legends. “Members of the public can now experience outstanding and significant ex-military jet aircraft.”

In late 2022, we opened the calendar for passenger flights in the iconic BAC Strikemaster. We are now looking forward to flying those who have already secured their flying date. Those who are ready to be a fighter pilot for the day but haven’t yet booked, can now do so with confidence.”

Strikemaster fighter jet experiences are available from £2,250.

The BAC Strikemaster is a weaponised counter-insurgency and light attack aircraft. It is a development of the Jet Provost and predecessor to the Hawk, powered by an uprated Rolls-Royce Viper turbo-jet engine. Aero Legends’ Strikemaster pilots include former Red Arrows syncropair lead Sean Chiddention MBE, and renowned warbird pilot Charlie Brown, who in addition to over 2,000 hours in Spitfires has extensive jet, instructional and passenger flying experience amassed during his 39 years with the RAF.

Author: FTN Editor

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