SPO for Swiss Operators

SPO Switzerland #2

Certain commercial SPO operations are classified as high risk. This classification (definition of high risk) is up to the competent authority of the concerned territory.


Definition of high risk commercial specialised operations within Switzerland:

  • helicopter sling load operations
  • human external cargo operations
  • avalanche mining operations
  • SPO flights where dangerous goods are carried
  • operations for which protective standards (such as e.g. minimum flight altitudes, underflying of riggings, lines or constructions) – irrespective of the associated necessary approvals – are either exceeded or undershot.

Application for High Risk Operations

For high risk operations the SPO operator needs to apply to the competent authority (FOCA for Swiss operators) for an authorisation before the operation(s) may be started.

The application shall contain and explain the associated standard operations procedures (SOPs) and the relevant risk assessment(s) for the planned operation(s). FOCA will review those and, when satisfied, issue a so called «Authorisation of high risk commercial specialised operations» for the planned operation(s).

Examples for Swiss operators:

  • A Swiss operator intends to perform an operation which falls under the high risk scope of Switzerland (definition below)
     (1) The application must be sent to FOCA
     (2) FOCA will issue the authorisation
  • A Swiss operator intends to perform an operation abroad which falls under the high risk scope of that country
     (1) The application must be sent to FOCA
     (2) FOCA will, after consultation of the concerned competent authority, issue the authorisation

If the Swiss definition of high risk and the concerned country's definition do not match, the process remains the same: FOCA (which is the competent authority of the Swiss operator) will have to issue the authorisation, even if in Switzerland the operation would not be considered as high risk.

Note: Swiss customs acknowledged the release of tax on fuel for commercial specialised operations under the same conditions as defined for an AOC holder (SPO declaration and letter of acknowledgement must be on hand).

Check here what is considered as high risk commercial specialised operations in other EASA member states.

Guidance Material and Forms

FOCA GM/INFO - SPO Helicopter (PDF, 1 MB, 23.09.2016)Assists in becoming compliant with EASA Air Operations Part–SPO requirements applicable when declaring in Switzerland

FOCA GM/INFO - Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for helicopter operations (PDF, 821 kB, 04.07.2017)Guidance for operators developing SOPs for their specialised operations (SPO) with helicopters

Checklist HESLO, HEC, PAR

SOP Operational Approval Checklist (PDF, 369 kB, 04.07.2017)Approval checklist for the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Pilot Training HESLO / HEC

Pilot Training HESLO and HEC (PDF, 418 kB, 12.02.2018)Overview of the pilot training for Human External Cargo HEC and Helicopter External Sling Load Operations HESLO

Further Information


Federal Office of Civil Aviation FOCA

Section Operation of Complex Airplanes 



Section Helicopter Flight Operations

Tel: +41 58 464 62 93


Print contact