AVIATION, AERIAL INSURANCE NOTES
Film Crew Flying & Insurance
Amongst most production companies and technicians there is an attitude of innocent confidence regarding the risk and legalities of flying and working in some civilian and ex-military aircraft.
It is probable that on many jobs, particularly those set up at short notice, the technicians flying are not properly insured.
Even a most diligent production company may well believe that as the aircraft has a current CAA Certificate of Airworthiness, and they have arranged special insurance cover, all is correct.
There are however not one, but four categories of CAA Certificate of Airworthiness.
Which allows just that, and has strict rules on all aspects of the operation.
A category for such flying as crop spraying etc. Passengers may not be carried.
No payment of work allowed.
Permit to Fly/Special Category
The 'lowest' categories of Certificate of Airworthiness; these often apply to old or heavily modified aircraft which may be beautifully maintained, but must only be utilised on a flight crew only operation and also limit the type of work that the aircraft can undertake for payment, eg displays, etc.
The Air Navigation Order states clearly that no passengers are allowed to fly in 'Permit to Fly' aircraft for "valuable consideration" to the aircraft operator, (Camera operators and directors are considered passengers as work is being done and payment is being made to use the aircraft).
The insurance company may even accept a special premium from the production, but it may be only after an incident that the legal error will come to light, ie rules were broken, no passengers were allowed, so little or no insurance will be paid out.
It is possible to film and fly in 'Permit to Fly/Special Category' aircraft with a dispensation from the CAA. This will take a minimum of 2 weeks to obtain and requires detailed information for the Authority to assess the risk, eg flying in a old transport aircraft is completely different from flying in a military aircraft with an ejector seat.
All technicians who are asked to fly in these machines should ask to see written evidence of the dispensation issued by the CAA, which will state in plain language the permissions granted.
The insurance company should also issue written acceptance that they are aware of the specific exercise.
There are many other factors that can affect the legality of a flight, but there are also many well organised flying companies, co-ordinators and productions that correctly arrange all permissions, but be aware of the risks, ask questions, see the paperwork, don't accept "don't worry, it's all ok".
Even an individual's personal Death and Accident Insurance may be invalid because the injury happened on a non scheduled and illegal flight!
Anybody who is not clear should check up with any experienced film pilot or flight co-ordinator or the CAA if they are worried about their company or personal risk.