Pre-Flight Planning resources

Pre-Flight Planning

Flights over water


Flights over water CAR 258, AIP ENR 1.1

An aircraft shall not fly over water at a distance from land greater than the distance from which the aircraft could reach land if the engine, or, in the case of a multi- engined aircraft, the critical engine, were inoperative. However, it is a defence to a prosecution if the flight was:

  • in accordance with directions issued by CASA, or
  • in the course of departing from or landing at an aerodrome in accordance with a normal navigational procedure for departing from or landing at that aerodrome.

Aircraft engaged in private, airwork or charter operations, and which are normally prohibited by CAR 258 from over-water flights because of their inability to reach land in the event of engine failure, may fly over water subject to compliance with the following conditions. These conditions are additional to the requirements for flight over land (AIP ENR 1.1).

The requirements for flights over water are as follows:

  • for charter operations carrying passengers the distance from land suitable for emergency landing must not exceed 25 nm
  • helicopters may use a fixed platform or a vessel suitable for an emergency landing
  • seaplanes may use an area of water suitable for an emergency landing and located adjacent to land
  • there is no limitation for private, airwork or freight-only charter operations
  • each occupant of the aircraft must wear a life jacket during the flight over water unless exempted from doing so under the terms of CAO 20.11 para 5.1.7 to 5.1.9 and
  • a meteorological forecast must be obtained.

SAR alerting AIP ENR 1.1

  • VFR flights may choose to operate on reporting schedules for the over-water stages of a flight. Schedules may be arranged before commencing the over-water stage and terminate on completion of the crossing.
  • VFR aircraft not equipped with radio which will enable continuous communication, or not radio-equipped, must carry a survival beacon as prescribed in CAO 20.11 para 6 for the over-water stages of the flight

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New rules came into effect from 2 December 2021 that cover the general operating and flight rules. This website is now out of date and will be switched off in the new year. A PDF copy of the VFRG is available for download.
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