Flying Displays and Special Events 2019: Safety and administrative requirements and guidance

Closed 11 Jan 2019

Opened 3 Dec 2018

Results expected 28 Jan 2019

Feedback updated 28 Jan 2019

We asked

It is vital that 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 2019 display season. 

One of our main objectives for this Edition was to simplify and streamline the content so that it remains most relevant to the intended audiences without being too onerous. This followed feedback from the community that previous Editions were burdensome because they contained material that was often repeated within the document, or it was or could have been presented efficiently elsewhere. 

A key finding was that the document attempted to exhaustively encapsulate all the relevant information (including regulatory processes as well as guidelines) for two distinct audiences: 

  1. Those who organise Flying Displays: namely Flying Display Directors (FDD) and Event Organisers (EOs). This includes the standards required to attain and maintain FDD accreditation, guidance on event organisation, safety management, display areas and crowd separation distances, and emergency procedures. 
  2. Those who fly in Flying Displays: namely Display Pilots and Display Authorisation Evaluators (DAEs). This includes information on the standards required to attain and maintain a Display Authorisation, how to be a DAE, as well as the regulatory material and safety guidelines on preparing for and preforming a Flying Display.

While there is some commonality between these two groups, we found that there was sufficient distinction to warrant splitting the content into two different but allied CAPs: one focusing on the organisation of Flying Displays and Special Events (CAP 403 Edition 16); and another setting out display standards for Display Pilots and DAEs (the new CAP 1724 Display Standards Document).  

We noted that it was in fact rare for one audience to need to know all the details required of the other, and therefore by splitting the guidance across two publications, each audience is better able to absorb the shorter, more targeted, and above all more relevant document. 

We compiled a draft of CAP 403 Edition 16 and consulted on it over six working weeks from Monday 3 December 2018 through to Friday 11 January 2019. The consultation for CAP 1724 Display Standards followed shortly thereafter and ran from 17 December 2018 to 18 January 2019.

You said

We received a total of 476 different comments to the draft CAP 403 from 18 respondents. All respondents were from the Flying Display community including FDDs, EOs, Display Pilots and DAEs. Four responses were formal submissions from representative bodies or associations. 

The majority (77%) of the comments advocated changes that were textual in nature, suggesting streamlined wording or highlighting minor drafting points. Many of these were comments were duplicated between respondents. 

There were also another 30 comments (6%) that did not advocate any change, with most expressing support for the approach we took. For example, our decision to split the content into respective flying display organisation and display standards documents was largely supported by the respondents. There were no substantive objections to this approach.

The remaining 17% of the comments suggested more substantive amendments that implicated changes of policy. 

We did

We accepted 261 of the all the comments suggesting some sort of change (59%), of which 95% resulted in an amendment to the proposed text. 

We accepted 59% of the 365 textual comments received. Most of these comprised rewording content for clarification, and we have tried to take a balanced view on what would be helpful. Several respondents 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 81 substantive comments, we implemented 42%. These comprised of 22 comments directly changing the document, 11 that were thought to be similar to a change already made, and another 12 were noted for consideration in either another Edition of this CAP or another document such as CAP 1724 Display Standards. 

Regarding the changes we elected not to implement, some respondents requested further explanation that we deemed was either explained adequately elsewhere or was not necessary.  For example, some comments suggesting reinstating content that was actively removed from earlier Editions on the basis that they covered unregulated activities. The CAA later this year intends to publish a separate CAP providing safety guidance for unregulated activities such as balloon-only events, air races and rallies/fly-ins, and many of the comments received during this consultation will be incorporated accordingly. Other respondents highlighted changes that have been already reflected in another document, CAP 1724.

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, but 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 16, published 28 January 2019. 


This consultation contains the proposed amendments to the CAP 403, Flying Displays and Special Events: Safety and Administrative Requirements and Guidance, which are planned to be effective from 1 April 2019.

Why we are consulting

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, 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 2019 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


  • Safety
  • Security