Operations Rules

DG dusk 2

What are ‘Operations’?

Operations as described here means operating aircraft in a sport gliding context.

What rules apply?

EASA operations rules apply to EASA aircraft including sailplanes (effective 9 July 19).

The UK ANO operations rules apply to non-EASA aircraft.

BGA requirements apply to all aircraft operating from BGA clubs.

Operations Rules for Sailplanes, including powered sailplanes including TMGs

The EASA Sailplane Air Operations (Part SAO) rules apply with effect from 9 July 2019.

Part SAO ‘easy access’ rules combining implementing rules, AMC and GM are available here.

There is guidance on the carriage of documents in the FAQs below.

Operations Rules for Aeroplanes

EASA aeroplanes operated by gliding clubs are subject to EASA Non-Commercial Operations (Part NCO) rules. The Part NCO rules are contained within the EASA Air Operations rules as Annex VII.

Air Operations ‘easy access’ rules combining implementing rules, AMC and GM are available here.

There is guidance on the carriage of document in the FAQs below.


What is a commercial operation? Commercial operation means ‘any operation in return for remuneration or other valuable considera­tion, which is available for the public or, when not made available to the public, which is performed under a contract between an operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the operator’. A members gliding club is not a commercial operation. Introductory flights that take place at a members gliding club are not deemed to be a commercial operation.

Do I need to buy an ELT? The rules require an aeroplane to be fitted with an ELT or carry an ELT or PLB. See NCO.IDE.A.170.

Which rules apply to TMGs? A TMG is a powered sailplane and therefore Part SAO applies to both sailplane and aeroplane licence holders.

Is aerotowing a specialised operation? Aerotowing with an EASA aeroplane within a non-commercial operation, ie a BGA club is not subject to SPO rules but is subject to NCO SPEC rules – see below.

What is ‘SPO’? EASA Specialised Operations (SPO) rules apply to commercial aeroplane operations from 21st April 2017. Glider towing within a BGA gliding club is not deemed to be a commercial operation and SPO does not apply. Non-commercial specialised operations with aeroplanes are covered by additional rules in a subpart of NCO, called NCO.SPEC.

What is ‘NCO Spec’?  NCO.SPEC (non-commercial specialised operations) lists sailplane towing as a specialised operation. When towing with an EASA aeroplane, the following applies;

There is a general requirement in NCO.SPEC to conduct a risk assessment, assessing the complexity of the activity to determine the hazards and associated risks inherent in the operation and establish mitigating measures. The risk assessment does not need to be recorded, though there is a requirement that specialised operations are ‘performed in accordance with a checklist. Based on the risk assessment, the pilot-in-command shall establish such checklist appropriate to the specialised activity and aircraft used, taking account of any section of this subpart’.

The UK CAA agree that existing BGA sailplane towing guidance provides the necessary detail and that a generic checklist can satisfy the NCO SPEC requirement within BGA clubs. The following risk assessment and checklist has been developed using NCO SPEC Subpart E and is offered in support of BGA club sailplane towing operations;

BGA NCO SPEC sailplane towing generic risk assessment and checklist

Do I need to carry lots of documents when flying an EASA aircraft? 

All the documents listed below can be carried as electronic copies if accessibility, usability and reliability can be assured.

  • Aircraft Flight Manual or equivalent
  • Current and suitable aeronautical charts for the area of the intended flight
  • Details of any filed ATS flight plan (where applicable)
  • Procedures and visual signals information for use by intercepting and intercepted aircraft – the BGA has produced a summary document available here
  • Certificate of registration
  • Certificate of airworthiness
  • Airworthiness review certificate
  • Noise certificate, if a noise certificate has been issued for a powered sailplane
  • Aircraft radio licence, where the sailplane is equipped with radio communication equipment in accordance with point SAO.IDE.130
  • Third-party liability insurance certificate(s)
  • Journey log or equivalent

The UK CAA has advised that only the following documents must to be carried in a sailplane when operating within UK airspace;

  • Current and suitable aeronautical charts for the area of the intended flight

All other documents, manuals and information may be retained at the aerodrome or operating site for flights intending to remain within the sight of the aerodrome or operating site, or remaining within the UK FIR.

Please note that when operating outside UK airspace, there is likely to be a requirement to carry additional documents as listed above. Please check with the local authorities.

The Air Navigation Order

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

BGA Requirements

BGA operational regulations and associated requirements and guidance has been developed and continues to evolve to support risk management, efficient operations and compliance with relevant law.

BGA operational regulations and associated requirements and guidance are available here.