Pre-Flight Planning resources

Pre-Flight Planning

Flights over water

Safety equipment

Life jackets CAO 20.11

When to carry

Aircraft shall be equipped with one life jacket that complies with the standards specified in CAO 20.11 para 5.1 for each occupant when the aircraft is over water and at a distance from land:

  • in the case of a single-engine aircraft—greater than that which would allow the aircraft to reach land with the engine inoperative
  • in the case of multi-engine aircraft—greater than 50 nm.

Stowage requirements

Where required by CAO 20.11 para 5.1, a life jacket or individual flotation device shall be stowed at, or immediately adjacent to, each seat. In addition, sufficient additional life jackets or individual flotation devices shall be carried in easily accessible positions for use by infants or children for whom a life jacket or individual flotation device is not available at, or adjacent to, their seated position.

Life jackets shall be so stowed in the aircraft that one life jacket is readily accessible to each occupant and, in the case of passengers, within easy reach of their seats.

When to wear

Where life jackets are required to be carried in single-engine aircraft each occupant shall wear a life jacket during flight over water. However, occupants of aeroplanes need not wear life jackets during flight above 2000 ft above the water.

Where life jackets are required to be carried in accordance with CAO 20.11 para 5.1.4, each occupant of a single-engine aircraft shall wear a life jacket during flight over water when the aircraft is operated beyond gliding distance from land or water (as appropriate), suitable for an emergency landing. However, occupants need not wear life jackets when the aircraft is taking off or landing at an aerodrome in accordance with a normal navigational procedure for departing from or arriving at that aerodrome.

Life rafts

When to carry

Life rafts shall be in addition to the life jackets required for the flight.

An aircraft that is flown over water at a distance from land greater than the permitted distance* must carry, as part of its emergency and lifesaving equipment, sufficient life rafts to provide a place in a life raft for each person on board the aircraft (CAO 20.11 para 5.2).

*The permitted distance is a distance equal to 30 minutes at normal cruising speed, or 100 nm, whichever is the least (CAO 20.11 para (b)).

Stowage requirements

Life rafts carried in accordance with this section shall be stowed so as to be readily accessible in the event of a ditching. When life rafts are stowed in compartments or containers, such compartments or containers shall be appropriately and conspicuously marked. Life rafts shall comply with a standard approved by CASA.

Signalling equipment

When to carry

Aircraft or flights where the carriage of life rafts is required by CAO 20.11 para 5.2, or on such other overwater flights as CASA specifies, shall carry approved types of the following signalling equipment:

  • one ELT when one life raft is carried, or
  • at least two ELTs when more than one raft is carried
  • a supply of pyrotechnic distress signals.

Single-engine aircraft on flights over water, which are not equipped with radio communication equipment or are not capable of continuous air-ground communication and which are not requid red to carry a life raft, shall be required to carry an ELT.

Stowage requirements

The ELTs shall meet the standards specified by CASA and shall be stowed so as to facilitate their ready use in an emergency;

Survival equipment

When to carry

An aircraft shall carry survival equipment for sustaining life appropriate to the area being overflown on the following flights (CAO 20.11 para 7):

  • where the carriage of life rafts is required
  • during operations within or through the remote areas specified by the remote area maps
  • on such other flights as may be directed by CASA.

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New rules come into effect from 2 December 2021 that cover the general operating and flight rules. We are currently updating this guide to reflect the new rules. A new version will be available to download from 2 December.
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