Rating Corner | Do You Need a Certificate of Authorization for Your Demo Jump?
The Rating Corner | Jan 22, 2023
Rating Corner | Do You Need a Certificate of Authorization for Your Demo Jump?

Michael Knight

The question that determines whether a skydiver needs a Federal Aviation Administration Certificate of Authorization for a parachute jump, which involves filing FAA Form 7711-2, is: Will the jump be conducted into an aviation event, congested area on the surface or open-air assembly of persons?

The answer may not be as straightforward as it seems. Unfortunately, the FAA does not have an official definition of either “congested area” or “open-air assemblies of persons.” The local Flight Standards District Office with jurisdiction for the jump site has the authority to determine whether the location is a congested area or open-air assembly.

Prior to conducting a parachute jump, the jumpers must obtain permission from the property owner (including public property) and the FAA. If you are conducting a parachute jump outside the normal daily activities of an established drop zone, only your local FSDO can determine whether you need to file a Form 7711-2 for your jump. Jumping into an area with only a couple of bystanders? Consult the local FSDO. Jumping into a large field containing only a run-down barn? Consult the local FSDO. Consequences for not filing the appropriate notifications could include suspension or revocation of FAA certificates and fines for jumpers involved. Cited parties may also be subject to civil penalties.

The FAA considers any parachute operation planned before an invited assembly of persons to be an aviation event, even if the landing area exceeds the maximum dimensions for a Level I area. Payment, purpose of the assembly and the size of the assembly are not factors in the classification of an aviation event. An aviation event requires the FAA to issue a Certificate of Authorization unless the FAA determines that the parachute operation does not require one.

Federal Aviation Regulations Section 105.15(a)(1)–(7) lists the information required of all parachute operations. Parachute operations classified as aviation events require a few additional items that demo jumpers often miss when filing Form 7711-2. Those often-missing items are:

Emergency Response Plan—A written document that, in a manner appropriate to the size and complexity of the aviation event, describes how the organizations presenting and supporting the event will respond to protect people and property in an emergency that affects performers, essential personnel or spectators.

Security Plan (aka Crowd Control)—A written document that establishes the methods that will be used to ensure the areas outside of the designated spectator area(s), especially the area under the flying display area, are secure and, where required, sterile.

Landowner Permission—Applicants must submit a letter of permission for any off-airport demonstration jump that requires a Certificate of Authorization under FAR 105.21. For jumps onto or over an airport, applicants must receive prior approval from the airport management.

Airport Vicinity—FAR 119.1 (e)(6) requires all flights conducted for the purpose of intentional parachute operations to be conducted within a 25-statute-mile radius of the airport of takeoff.

Timeline for Approval—Applicants should submit FAA Form 7711-2 applications for Certificate of Authorization at least 10 business days before an event. The FSDO must complete an application’s approval or disapproval within five business days of receipt and must issue all approved Certificates of Authorization at least five business days prior to the requested parachute demonstration.

Jumpers can find FAA Form 7711-2 and the supplemental attachment for skydiving demonstration jumps at faa.gov and uspa.org. Both the application and the supplement attachment to the FSDO can be submitted using the instructions found at uspa.org. Jumpers can contact the USPA Government Relations Department for assistance at govrelations@uspa.org.

Michael Knight | D-22804
USPA Director of Government Relations

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