In our client alert dating back to May 2013, we reported that the General Aviation Regulation (the “Former Regulation”) was published in the Official Gazette on 14 May 2013 and entered into force. It remained in effect until recently when it was repealed by the new General Aviation Regulation (the “New Regulation”) which was published in the Official Gazette on 24 April 2020.
With one exception, the provisions of the New Regulation are now in force (effective from 24 April 2020), so that (i) the criteria set forth for legal entities and real persons who will apply for a general aviation operation licence, (ii) the licencing principles and (iii) the procedures and standards that the operators who have obtained general aviation licence (“Operators”) should comply with in their activities, shall now be determined in accordance with the New Regulation.
According to Article 6 of the New Regulation, real persons and legal entities intending to carry out:
- Non-commercial operations with other than complex motor-powered aircraft-NCO (B1),
- Commercial special operations-Commercial SPO (B2),
- Educational activities (B3),
- Non-commercial operations with complex motor powered aircraft-NCC (B4),
- Special non-commercial operations-SPO (B5)
must obtain an authorization from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (the “Directorate General”).
The aforementioned “special operations-SPO” are defined in Article 4 of the New Regulation as “any operation other than commercial air transport where the aircraft is used for specialised activities such as agriculture, construction, photography, surveying, aerial advertisement, observation patrol flight” and listed by way of example in Article 5, as below:
a) Aerobatic flights-ABG,
b) Search, rescue, disaster relief operations,
c) Scientific survey flights,
ç) Rainmaking flights
d) Flights performed for the purpose of aerial photography,
e) Aerial mapping, aerial geophysical survey operations,
f) Flights performed for the purpose of aerial calibration,
g) Flights performed for aerial filming and TV shootings for the purpose of media,
ğ) Flights performed for the purpose of aerial surveillance fugitives or of petroleum and natural gas leakages,
h) Flights performed for the purpose of aerial advertising,
ı) Flights performed for the purpose of aerial agriculture,
i) Aerial maintenance and cleaning operations (including aerial wire drawing operations) performed on the construction works and live power transmission lines,
j) Aerial avalanche mining and aerial mineral exploration operations,
k) Aerial sea grave (ash dropping) operations,
l) Aerial vaccine delivery operations for the purpose of wildlife protection including surveillance of animal herds, animal rescue flights,
m) Helicopter external load operations with-HESLO,
n) Human external cargo operations-HEC,
o) Helicopter surveillance and measurement operations,
ö) Parachute dropping operations-PAR,
p) Glider tow flights,
r) Sensational flights with extreme acrobatic manoeuvres performed for persons to experience the high G-force or similar emotions,
s) Flights performed for the purpose of aerial visualisation of the special events such as contests, demonstration flights.
In determining whether any activity, other than those listed above, is within the scope of special operations, the following criteria set out in the second paragraph of the Article 5 shall be taken into consideration:
Whether the activity is for the purpose of
- Conducting near-surface flights with aircraft as a matter of duty,
- Performing abnormal manoeuvres,
- Requiring special equipment for performing the duty and which affects the manoeuvre capability of the aircraft,
- Disposal from the aircraft of hazardous materials or materials affecting the manoeuvre capability of the aircraft,
- Pulling or lifting of external cargoes or goods,
- Enabling persons to enter or depart from the aircraft during the flight.
The applications submitted by the Operators shall be evaluated by the Directorate General. The procedures and principles applicable to those applications and licensing thereof are also regulated by the New Regulation.
The subject authorization may be granted by the Directorate General for a limited period of time and be subject to certain conditions. However, the authorization document will not be granted in circumstances where the national security or public order may be at stake and to the real persons or legal entities who are convicted of the offences stipulated in the New Regulation.
The General Qualifications Required From the Operators
The general qualifications required from the Operators are stipulated under articles 12 to 18 of the New Regulation. In the second paragraph of Article 12, B2 licenced Operators (Commercial special operations-Commercial SPO) are required to have certain additional qualifications such as:
- The Operator shall assign a manager and a conformance monitoring and safety system executive to supervise the compliance of the organization to the civil aviation law and its sustainability,
- The Operator shall also assign executives in charge of flight operations, ground operations, flight training, maintenance and security. The required qualifications for such personnel are also stipulated in detail in the New Regulation.
- The competency of the executives shall be assessed by the Directorate General and approved if deemed suitable.
In addition to the above, certain general qualifications which the Operators are required to have and which were stipulated in the Former Regulation are also adopted by the New Regulation. Some of those qualifications are as follows:
- The Operators are required to have in their employment and maintain during their activity sufficient and competent personnel, depending on the type, size and diversity of the area to be operated.
- The Operators’ founding partners (real person or legal entity) and directors authorized to represent the legal entity should not have been convicted of any offences stipulated under Article 18 of Turkish Civil Aviation Law (robbery, looting, breach of trust, fraud, fraudulent bankruptcy and other offences listed in the article).
- The Operator should inform the Directorate General of any changes in the shareholders or shareholding structure within one month at the latest.
- The real persons who will carry out the general aviation activity are required to be Turkish citizens.
- As for the legal entities who will carry out the general aviation activity, the following conditions should coexist:
- At least 51% of the shares should be registered shares,
- The majority of the persons who are authorized to manage and represent the legal entity should be Turkish citizens,
- As per the articles of association, the majority of the shares should be held by the Turkish shareholders.
- The Operators are liable for fulfilling their insurance obligations set out in the relevant regulations.
- The Operators are responsible for keeping the aircraft equipment as specified in the New Regulation and the licenced personnel as well as preparing the handbook.
General Aviation Activity
Another important change is introduced by Article 20 of the New Regulation. Pursuant to the second paragraph of that article, commercial special operation activities in Turkey will not be permitted to be carried out by foreign registered aircraft where there exists more than one (operation licence holder) operator capable of carrying out the relevant commercial special operation.
In this respect, the local companies have been given priority to carry out these types of operations. It is important to note that this provision shall enter into force 6 (six) months following the effective date.
We further note that in addition to the above, some of the provisions in the Former Regulation have been adapted to the New Regulation For example, Operators are still not allowed to carry out any commercial passenger and/or cargo transport activities. If they do they shall be subject to administrative fines and their operation licences shall be revoked.
Another example is that the Operators may lease their aircraft to third parties for a maximum period of 15 (fifteen) days at a time provided that the conditions set forth under Article 27 of the New Regulation are met.
Having said that, we caution our readers that the Operators should adapt their existing situations/operations to the New Regulation within 1 (one) year as of the effective date of the New Regulation failing which the operation licences of the Operators shall be suspended for 6 (six) months and revoked if the necessary requirements are not met at the end of the given period.
On a last note, as the agricultural spraying operations are classified as special operations within the scope of Article 5 of the New Regulation, the existing operators holding agricultural spraying licences should obtain an operation licence in order to carry out general aviation activity. It is also important to note that all agricultural spraying licences shall be revoked after 1 (one) year following the effective date of the New Regulation.
Notwithstanding that certain procedures and principles in the Former Regulation are preserved in the New Regulation, three major changes have been introduced to the Turkish general aviation sector by the New Regulation:
- Within the framework of harmonisation to the European Union law and requirements of the Commission Regulation (EU) No. 965/2012, the procedural and organizational requirements to be complied with by the companies which carry out/will carry out commercial special operations are defined and specified in detail. Thus, it is aimed by this New Regulation that the Operators carry out safer flight operations and perform its activities in a more systematic and controlled way.
- The local companies are given priority to carry out commercial special operation activities. Thus it is aimed to keep the capital within the country.
- The existing operators holding agricultural spraying licences are required to obtain an operation licence in order to carry out general aviation activity.