Charity chopper to fly again

HELICOPTER pilot Terry Walker is flying for charity again after finding an aviation ruling which allows him to offer joy flights which raise money for charity without paying for a commercial air operator's certificate.

The Bellingen-based private helicopter pilot said he would be back in the sky over the Orara Valley Fair on Monday after establishing that the 2003 ruling allowed for operations conducted for the benefit of a charitable entity.

"It's nice to get a win," Mr Walker said.

"I'm not here for charter."

The Civil Air Safety Authority told Mr Walker last week he could not provide joy flights for charity at local events unless he took out a commercial Air Operators Certificate, which would have cost him about $5000.

Mr Walker said there was little point paying out $5000 to give away $5000 since he did not do commercial work with his aircraft.

Although he was told it was not possible, Mr Walker always said he was sure there would be an exception for charitable work and he has now been proved correct.

Civil Air Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said yesterday he had not previously been aware of the charity ruling, which was buried in thousands of CASA documents.

Mr Gibson said CASA had since written to Mr Walker.

"He's done a good job in ferreting out a way he can operate," Mr Gibson said.

He said the 2003 ruling meant Mr Walker was not legally required to operate at the same level of safety compliance as a commercial operator, although he could choose to operate at that higher standard.

He said it also meant charity joy flight passengers would not have the automatic carriers' liability insurance offered by commercial operators and would have to rely on their own insurance.

But he said CASA was very pleased Mr Walker could continue his great work for local charities.

Mr Walker said he ran his helicopter operation 'to the letter' of the commercial Aircraft Operations Certificate.

The 2003 CASA ruling allows an aircraft owner, firm or pilot to conduct a charitable opration without an AOC provided that the money goes to a charity endorsed as a deductible gift recipient.

The operator is allowed to deduct his or her genuine costs as long as all profits are donated to charity.

Mr Walker has flown joy flights to raise money for a number of charities.

Next Monday he will be back in the air aiming to raise money for a charity nominated by the Orara Valley Fair committee.

The commitee nominates one or more charities each year to receive part of the proceeds from the annual Fair, which is being held for the 29th time this year.

All other proceeds go to maintaining the Upper Orara Hall and Recreation Reserve.

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