Russian authorities are trying to crack down on illegal operations offering sightseeing and pleasure flights to customers unaware of the safety risks involved.
Thirteen accidents – six of which were fatal, with the loss of 14 people – have occurred in the general aviation sector so far this year, according to the federal air transport regulator Rosaviatsia.
It has expressed concern that advertisements offering illegal general aviation “entertainment” flights on commercial terms, for tourism purposes, are becoming widespread.
Rosaviatsia cites falsification of documents in association with the fatal crash of a Hydrosamolet Che-23M amphibian in Abkhazia in late July.
It also points to a mid-air collision involving a Cessna U206 and Robinson R44 helicopter in August 2015 after which investigators found that the Cessna operator did not have a valid pilot’s licence.
“Citizens who decide to take advantage of these illegal services of general aviation aircraft operators do not have knowledge of the serious problems they might face in the event of an accident,” says Rosaviatsia.
Two of the six occupants of an Airbus Helicopters AS350 were killed last November near Adler after a ground collision, it adds.
The authority has identified several primary causes of accidents in the sector, including obstacle impact during low-level flight, loss of control during excessive manoeuvring, and spatial disorientation.
Rosaviatsia stresses that Russian civil aviation regulations state that owners of general aviation aircraft “do not have the right” to provide any kind of paid service for passenger transport, and that any such offer “violates” the country’s Air Code.
It points out that, should an individual nevertheless enter an arrangement, the Air Code does not establish compulsory liability insurance for such cases in the event of injury.
Rosaviatsia has urged regional authorities to increase awareness of the problem and stresses the need for constant interaction to detect and prevent unlawful flights.