Operations Rules

DG dusk 2

What are ‘Operations’?

Operations as described here means carrying out gliding activity including powered gliding (which includes TMGs) and aerotowing.

What rules apply?

Self Regulation – BGA

Sailplane (gliding) operations are currently self-regulated under the BGA. BGA operational regulations, requirements and guidance designed to minimise risk in gliding operations, and in particular to protect third parties, are described under Laws and Rules on this website.

Additional highly relevant safety and other guidance relating to gliding operations is also described on the website under Safety and under Pilot Resources.

The UK Air Navigation Order

There are a few operations rules within the UK Air Navigation Order (ANO) applicable to gliding which primarily support the all-important requirement to protect third parties. These include rules for commercial activity and where gliding interacts with others.

EASA Non-Commercial Operations Rules

The EASA operations rule structure is complicated and includes thousands of pages – there’s an explanation here.

EASA Non-Commercial Operations (Part-NCO) rules apply to EASA aeroplanes including TMG’s and helicopters from 25th August 2016.

EASA Operations rules specifically for sailplanes including powered sailplanes are under development through what is called ‘EASA Rule Making Task 0698’ (the detail is described on the EASA website, but essentially the plan is to develop simplified and risk based rules for sailplanes). This rule making task is informed by gliding experts. EASA is expected to publish the new sailplane operations rules in 2018.

Meanwhile, EASA has published Regulation 2016/1199 amending Regulation 965/2012 which, within Article 10, extends the period of opt-out from non-commercial operations regulations for sailplanes (including powered sailplanes) to 8 April 2019.

So, EASA powered aeroplanes and TMGs operating under power need to comply with the NCO rules from 25th August 2016. The relevant rules can be viewed on the EASA website or in the helpful (but not amended) format as supplied by the CAA below:

The CAA has published some guidance on Part-NCO at CAA guide to Part-NCO

The CAA has published an Information Notice explaining which documents must be carried in the UK under Part NCO rules at CAA Information Notice re Carriage of Documents

EASA Specialised Operations rules

EASA Specialised Operations rules apply to aeroplanes and TMG’s (not to sailplanes or powered sailplanes – see opt out information above) from 21st April 2017.

The CAA Information Notice 2017/02 describes how to comply with the CAA’s requirements for specialised operations. The information notice includes the scope of activity that is deemed to be specialist, ie;

“any operation other than commercial air transport where the aircraft is used for specialised activities such as agriculture, construction, photography, surveying, observation and patrol, or aerial advertisement”.

Glider towing within a non-commercial operation, ie a BGA gliding club, is not included in the scope of activity deemed to be specialised.


Documents to be carried – do I need to carry lots of paperwork? – The rules allow many documents to be left at base. Please see the CAA’s October 2016 Information Notice. Required documents can be carried as electronic copies as long as they can be accessed if required.

ELT carriage – do I need to buy one? – The rules require an aeroplane or TMG to be fitted with an ELT or carry an ELT or PLB. See NCO.IDE.A.170.

The extinguisher requirement doesn’t apply to ELA 1 aeroplanes. But what is an ELA 1 aeroplane? – An aeroplane meets the ELA1 criteria if it is an aeroplane “with a Maximum Take Off Mass (MTOM) of less than 1200 kg that is not classified as a complex motor-powered aircraft” (most EASA tug aircraft and TMGs are ELA1).

Is a TMG assumed to be a powered EASA aeroplane or a powered sailplane? – NCO.GEN.102 ‘Touring motor gliders and powered sailplanes’ states;

(a) Touring motor gliders shall be operated following the requirements for:

(1) aeroplanes when they are power-driven by an engine; and

(2) sailplanes when operated without using an engine.

(b) Touring motor gliders shall be equipped in compliance with the requirements applicable to aeroplanes unless otherwise specified in Subpart D.

(c) Powered sailplanes, excluding touring motor gliders, shall be operated and equipped in compliance with the requirements applicable to sailplanes.

Is aerotowing a specialised operation? – Aerotowing within a non-commercial operation, ie a BGA gliding club, is not included in the scope of activity deemed to be specialised.