CAP 403 Flying Displays and Special Events: Safety and administrative requirements and guidance 2020

Closed 29 Nov 2019

Opened 4 Nov 2019

Feedback updated 5 Feb 2020

We asked

It is vital that CAP 403 Flying Displays and Special Events: Safety and Administrative Requirements and Guidance remains up-to-date and relevant, and that the CAA’s guidance material in these areas remains proportionate, clear and unambiguous.

We asked for feedback from the regulated community on proposed amendments to CAP 403 ahead of the 2020 display season. 

We compiled a draft of CAP 403 Edition 17 and consulted on it over four working weeks from 4 to 29 November 2019. 

You said

We received a total of 200 unique comments to the draft CAP 403 from 30 respondents. All respondents were from the Flying Display community including Flying Display Directors, Event Organisers and Display Pilots. Four responses were formal submissions from representative bodies or associations. 

Of all the comments, 187 clearly conveyed some sort of change. Of these:

  • just over 40% were textual in nature, suggesting revised wording or highlighting minor drafting points. Many of these were comments were duplicated between respondents; and  
  • the other nearly 60% were more substantive, calling for some sort of change of the underlying policy. 

We did

We accepted 95 of the all the comments suggesting some sort of change (51%). 

Of the 74 textual comments received, we accepted 35%. Most of these comprised rewording content for clarification, and we have tried to take a balanced view on what would be helpful. Several respondents requested changes to text that the majority of readers indicated as satisfactory. Others called for revision to text that we had carefully drafted in cooperation with other organisations such as the Military Aviation Authority. Some comments suggested clarifying definitions, and where possible we tried to accept these, however some suggestions would have meant revising CAA standard definitions which involves further work and may be considered in due course. 

Of the 113 substantive comments, we implemented 61%. Of these, 42 comments directly resulted in changes to the text, and another 40 were considered to be similar to changes already made. A significant proportion of these groups concerned our revisions in this Edition to Chapter 16 regarding the use of pyrotechnics.  Therefore, we decided to undertake a major redraft as a result, and we hope the result will be more workable to the community. Another 8 substantive comments received were noted for consideration in either another Edition of this CAP or another document such as CAP 1724 Display Standards. 

Regarding the comments we elected not to implement, many asked that we expand on material that we thought was covered adequately either in this document or elsewhere; or that we introduce content that we thought was not necessary. We also received some comments suggesting reinstating content that was actively removed from earlier Editions. 

Finally, some suggested changes would require substantial policy review including in some cases amendment to the Air Navigation Order (ANO), both of which are beyond the scope of this consultation.  However, we welcome further inputs to policy and the ANO, as and when these are released for consultation. 

We have produced a final version of CAP 403 Edition 17 was published on 5 February 2020. 


This consultation contains the proposed amendments to the next edition of CAP 403, Flying Displays and Special Events: Safety and Administrative Requirements and Guidance, which are planned to be effective from 1 April 2020.

Why your views matter

It is vital that CAP 403 is up-to-date and relevant to allow the display industry to prosper whilst maintaining public safety at all times. Feedback from the regulated community is crucial in supporting this.

In addition, this feedback will assist in ensuring that the regulations governing Flying Displays and Special Events are proportionate, clear and unambiguous.

This consultation period allows the regulated community to provide feedback on the changes to CAP 403 ahead of the forthcoming Pre-Display Season Symposium and 2020 Display Season.

How to respond to this consultation

Please send us your comments online using the link below (preferred method).

Alternatively please email stating the paragraph reference and suggested change/comment.

What happens next

We are working to publish the final version of Edition 16 of CAP 403 on 28 January 2019.


  • General Aviation


  • Flying Displays and Events