Combined Yak52 & Intermediate World Championships

The South African Aero Club will host the first combined Yak52 and Intermediate World Championships at Mossel Bay Airport on 26 Nov through 3 Dec 2014.  This competition is breaking new ground as CIVA are introducing for the first time a new category of aerobatics, this hopefully will serve as a feeder class to the established Advanced and Unlimited Championships or alternately will allow pilots to experience international competition and comradeship that they might not of otherwise experienced.

This is not the first time that the South African Aero Club has introduced a new category, the Yak52 category was initiated by South Africa and the 1st Advanced Competition staged in Cape Town in 1995, this category in terms of the number of entrants is now the most popular.

Red Bull Air Race season 2014

The first race of the season is in Abu Dhabi.  2014 Race Calendar:

  • Abu Dhabi, UAE – 28 Feb. /1 March
  • Putrajaya, MAS – 17/18 May
  • Gdynia, POL – 26/27 July
  • Ascot, GBR – 16/17 August
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, USA – 6/7 September
  • Las Vegas, USA – 11/12 October
  • China – 1/2 November

Future FAI competitions

The 2013 Annual Meeting of the FAI Aerobatics Commission (CIVA) was held on 8 and 9 November 2013 in Tallinn, Estonia.  The organisation of the following competitions was awarded: 2014 – 19th FAI European Aerobatic Championships  Matkopuszta Airport (Hungary) 23-30 Aug 2014, 2014 – 17th FAI World Glider Aerobatic Championships Olesnica (Poland) date to be advised, 2015 – 28th FAI World Aerobatic Championships  Location to be advised (France) 19-29 Aug 2015.  Check out the calendar for all FAI Aerobatics past and future events

Known Sequences for 2014 – Analysis

The members of the CIVA Known Analysis Working Group (KAWG) have submitted their reports and they have been compiled into one report which is now available at

Please click on “Meetings”, “2013″, and then “Agenda”.  Annex 14a is the KAWG document and contains the analyses of all the evaluators on the Working Group.
Please download the “Known Sequence Proposals for 2014 – Version 3″ document as well.  This was just revised today.  This year, evaluators could suggest minor changes to sequences to improve them.  This was done in the cases of Advanced F and Unlimited B and E.  The amended sequences are now in this document.  They are shown as Advanced Fv2, Unlimited Bv2, and Unlimited Ev2.
Some of the evaluators analyzed both the new and the old sequences and you will see this in the document.  However, we will only consider the revised sequences at plenary as the others were withdrawn by the Delegates who submitted them.

Michael R. Heuer

Red Bull Air Race back on stage in 2014 – FAI

The resumption of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship was announced on Tuesday in Malaysia during a press conference attended by FAI President John Grubbström and FAI Secretary General Jean-Marc Badan. The FAI will partner the Red Bull Air Race management and provide safety specialists for the Championship which will start in February 2014. The World Championship will consist of seven races staged in six countries on three continents, starting with Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 28 February 2014. FAI President John Grubbström said: “I am very pleased to see the Red Bull Air Race coming back as it is truly an event that gives worldwide exposure to air sports. Furthermore, it is important news for the FAI community in general as it represents a unique opportunity to showcase the excitement of air sports to the world. The improvements made to the race format and race track by the Red Bull Air Race Management are convincing and will no doubt add extra attractiveness to the event. We at the FAI are proud to be involved in this great event and to bring to the race management our expertise in matter of safety to make it successful. We are also very pleased that Breitling, the FAI Global Sponsor, is also part of the Red Bull Air Race as the official timekeeper.”

Race Calendar –

  • Abu Dhabi, UAE – 28 Feb. /1 March
  • Putrajaya, MAS – 17/18 May
  • Gdynia, POL – 26/27 July
  • Ascot, GBR – 16/17 August
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, USA – 6/7 September
  • Las Vegas, USA – 11/12 October
  • China – 1/2 November

Kind regards,

Faustine CARRERA | Communication Manager
FAI – Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
Maison du Sport International | Av. de Rhodanie 54 | 1007
Lausanne | Switzerland
Tel: +41 (0)21 345 10 70 | Fax: +41 (0)21 345 10 77 |
Skype: fai.fca

Changing the rules


The following article was published in an NZ Aerobatic Club newsletter, now posted here in case you missed it.  It’s all about the rules of competitive aerobatics.  Rules, who needs them ? Doesn’t sound like fun. But all sports have rules, to provide structure, let competitors know what you can and can’t do and how the game is played. Our rules help make competitive aerobatics a truly international sport, connect us with history and connect us with the rest of the world.

So we ought to think about rules sometime, but why now? Here follows a short history of recent events. Back in November 2011 CIVA (the FAI Aerobatics Commission) released an updated version of the Aresti Aerobatic Catalogue; that elegant gallery exhibiting all the figures we can fly in a competition, those fine sculptural shapes of Spanish origin, thank you Colonel José Aresti. All the figures you might find in a known or unknown sequence, or might want to put in your free sequence. The updated catalogue has some interesting new ones, like the double-humpty; despite the name you won’t find this in the Kama Sutra.

In New Zealand we currently use the rules laid down by the IAC (International Aerobatic Club). The IAC in turn follows the lead of CIVA as far as the catalogue is concerned, and much else. So in due course NZ would naturally adopt this updated catalogue.

A little background; CIVA are mostly a European organisation, though their membership is more international than that of the IAC which is almost exclusively American. CIVA run the world aerobatic championships. Both IAC and CIVA have rules for running aerobatic competitions, their rules are similar but not identical. In recent years the IAC has been gradually migrating its rules towards those of CIVA.

Discussion ensued between Richard Hood, Grant Benns, Simon Fitz-gerald and myself. The long and the short of it (these aerobatic rule complications do asymptote to infinity) Grant asked, should we adopt and publicise the new catalogue, and Richard said perhaps it was time we went with the CIVA system which would bring us more in line with international competition. I got roped in because of my seven years in the wilderness (Sydney) where the CIVA rules prevail.

Thus tasked by Grant to find out if the CIVA rules are greatly different from IAC rules, and consider what would change for us at a practical/competitor level, I duly picked through my gently fading memory cells and eventually came up with the following.

But first, maybe you’re not yet feeling the love for this rule stuff. Not everybody is desirous of competing at world championships; perhaps you aren’t, and wonder why you should care if NZs rules are in line with those of other countries. Consider this, competitors at all levels can cross the Tasman easy enough, all you do is find a plane when you get there. Or get really big fuel tanks for your own. Judges may also want to sample other parts of the globe. And NZ can benefit greatly from inviting competitors and judges from other countries here, to take part in NZ competitions.

The differences are numerous and each deserves due consideration of the pros and cons. This isn’t all of them, just things I’ve noticed. Some observations are differences of practice, not of rules per se. In summary form only (got to save trees):

  • Aerobatics flown outside the box: this is permitted in NZ, not in Australia or under CIVA rules (thus any safeties must be flown in the box)
  • Safety figures flown: in NZ two half-rolls are flown for safeties, per IAC rules; in Australia/CIVA two half-rolls and a loop (for the advanced category a humpty, stall-turn or cuban-8)
  • Flying right through the box after wing-waggles, and re-entering: there is no penalty for this under IAC rules; there is a penalty under CIVA rules
  • Lower box limits for the advanced and unlimited categories: in NZ the limits are 800ft and 500ft respectively; under CIVA rules, 660ft and 330ft. The IAC have recently adopted the CIVA lower limits so NZ should follow sooner or later, regardless of whether we shift to CIVA rules
  • Known vs Q: in NZ the advanced category flies a known sequence, per IAC rules, and the score counts; in Australia/CIVA the equivalent is called the Q (qualifier) and the score doesn’t count unless weather cuts things short
  • Number of unknowns: in NZ the advanced category flies one unknown, per IAC; in Australia/CIVA advanced flies two unknowns. In the USA they fly one unknown except for international team selection when they fly two
  • Creating unknowns: in NZ the advanced competitors submit figures for the unknown, but don’t draw up the sequence; in Australia competitors also draw up the sequence, usually the evening before the flight
  • Free unknowns: in NZ all competitors fly the same unknown, in Australia/CIVA each competitor may choose to fly a different unknown. This is a fairly recent development, I don’t have experience of it myself. The USA have just adopted the free unknown process also, but haven’t flown a comp with it yet
  • Number of judges: the minimum number of judges is two in NZ (including the chief judge) three in Australia (usually not including the chief judge). Under IAC rules the minimum is three, not including the chief judge
  • Encouraging judging: in NZ few competitors judge and there’s no active training program; in both Australia and the USA competitors are encouraged to judge, via on-line judging exams and refresher courses held at competitions
  • Scoring software: NZ uses the JaSPer scoring program, Australia uses the ACRO scoring software (once at their nationals so far, plus NSW and VIC state comps). The ACRO software implements the FairPlay statistical processing method, JaSPer uses simpler, non-statistical calculations

The information about events in the USA is courtesy of Debby Rihn-Harvey, that concerning Australia is courtesy of Grant Piper and my own hippocampus. You’ll note some differences affect only the advanced and unlimited categories while some affect all categories. Some changes imply a cultural shift; long established practise carries weight, naturally. Do consider that beyond just standardising with the Aussies and Europeans, many of these changes could bring intrinsic improvements to how we do aerobatics here.

More food for thought, regardless of which rules we change, do we want to encourage the NZAC membership to become familiar with the rules of our sport ? At the moment this isn’t so much the case, as compared with the situation in Australia, Europe or the USA. Knowing the rules can build confidence, make you a better competitor and a more engaged participant both at and between competitions.

Russell Bell

Judging flicks – what makes it a challenge ?


Flicks turn up in lots of places.  On horizontal lines, 45° up-lines, 45° down-lines, 90° up-lines, 90° down-lines, top of a loop, before a part-loop, after a part-loop, or after a spin.  Each of these lines can be either positive or negative, except after a spin.

The flick itself may be positive or negative, may be normal or a crossover (also called a “ming vase”) and may revolve through ½, ¾, 1, 1 ¼, 1 ½, 1 ¾ or 2 rotations.  Flicks require abrupt pitch and rudder input, gyroscopic precession couples the pitch and yaw thus flicks to the left or right will auto-rotate differently.

Judging auto-rotation is subtle and flicks happen fast.  What do you look for ?  The rules say:

  • The aircraft nose must depart the fight-path (pitch).  For no pitch or wrong direction, zero the figure
  • The aircraft must yaw, initiating auto-rotation.  For a visible roll before auto-rotation commences deduct 1 point per 5°.  Pitch and yaw may be either separate (in time) or simultaneous
  • The “main axis” of the auto-rotation must be in the correct plane and direction
  • Downgrade for a visible “change in character” of the auto-rotation.  This means a change in roll-rate or change in cone-angle.  The downgrade is 1 point for each change in roll rate
  • The flick must stay in auto-rotation.  If the flick is entirely aileroned, zero the figure.  If the finish is aileroned, downgrade 1 point per 5° so give zero if more than 45° is aileroned

What are the visible signs of auto-rotation ?  The rules don’t say exactly, the usual interpretation is a conical or corkscrew rotation of the aircraft.  The roll-axis of the aircraft should draw the surface of a cone, as the aircraft rolls.  The axis of this cone is the “main axis” of the auto-rotation.

The “cone angle” will vary between aircraft. It may vary for the same aircraft and pilot (e.g. depending on the flick entry speed).  But it shouldn’t vary during a flick, downgrade if it does.

Stopping – the flick must stop in the same attitude as before the flick starts (before the initial pitch).  Not too tricky a concept for flicks on lines, except for flicks that stop on knife-edge, e.g. ¼ flicks.  Note that ½ flicks will finish horizontally-displaced, do not downgrade for this.  They should still finish on box-axis.

The stop-attitude must correspond to the geometry of the base figure.  Flicks on a loop should be integrated into the loop.   Consider, for flicks before or after part-loops, should the flick be integrated into the part-loop, or be an extension of the line ?

Negative – for negative flicks the initial pitch is towards the wheels, otherwise the criteria are the same.  Unlike the positive flick, in a negative flick the canopy is on the inside of the auto-rotation “cone” thus the pilot can look ahead through the canopy along the “main axis” of the auto-rotation.

Crossovers are flicks that pitch towards the local-G direction, i.e. a negative flick on a positive line or positive flick on a negative line.  Crossovers on horizontal or 45° lines offer quite a challenge (an impossibility ?) for the pilot to keep the main axis of the auto-rotation in the correct direction.

This was written as homework for an AAC training camp, comments welcome

Two Unknowns


In New Zealand pilots (in the Advanced and Unlimited categories) fly just one unknown, as is done in the USA under IAC rules.  In Australia and under CIVA rules pilots fly two unknowns.  And under CIVA rules the score for the Known (they call it the Q, short for Qualifier) doesn’t count (unless the weather cuts the competition short) which puts more emphasis on the unknowns.  Note that Intermediate pilots fly one unknown under both IAC and Australia/CIVA rules.

What would switching to CIVA rules mean ?  At the moment we fly four flights: the Known (official practice), Known again (competition), the Free, then the Unknown.  Under CIVA rules we would fly (still four flights): the Known/Q (official practice), the Free, the first Unknown, then the second Unknown.

In other words we would only fly the Known/Q once (as official practice) instead of twice, and would fly two unknowns.  Should NZ advanced and unlimited pilots fly two unknowns ?

Encouraging Judging


Should we encourage more competitors to judge?  Advantages: learning how to judge, knowing what the judges are looking for, makes you a better competitor.  More judges on the line means pilots get more feedback.

A bit of arm-twisting helps to get people onto a judging line.  In Australia competitors are actively encouraged to judge; all pilots competing in Intermediate category and above are required to take an on-line judging exam before turning up at the Nationals, and a short session (about 40 minutes) is held before the first day of competition.  This is a refresher, not an exam, nobody fails; but everyone gets the message they’re expected to know at least the basics of the judging criteria.  The USA and UK also put judging training material on-line.

Disadvantage: training judges requires work and won’t happen overnight.  While the judging criteria can be self-taught, theory isn’t everything; judges also need to get practical experience on a judging line.

Judging flight path and attitude – a short quiz

This is a short quiz about judging criteria, looking at the aircraft’s flight path and attitude.  There’s plenty of study material for judging out there; the IAC have their Introduction to Aerobatic Judging – Student Handout.  The Australians have on-line Judging Courses.  The BAeA (i.e. UK) have a Judging Seminar Tutorial.  This quiz is a learning tool, not an exam; results are not recorded.  It works on iPhone and Android.

Judging flight path and attitude

Judging lines horizontal and otherwise, loop and part-loops, the box axis and the wind, centering rolls
You have completed Judging flight path and attitude. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%% - %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.

Qualifier vs Known


In New Zealand the advanced category pilots currently fly a Known sequence, per IAC rules.  In Australia and under CIVA rules, the equivalent flight is called the Q (Qualifier). For both the Known and the Q, the sequence is published months in advance of the competition, all the pilots fly the same sequence, and the flight is judged and scored.  IAC and CIVA actually use the same sequence (each year).

However under IAC rules the score for the Known counts in the pilots’ overall result, where under CIVA rules the score for the Q doesn’t count (unless weather cuts the competition short).  Instead, under CIVA rules pilots fly two unknowns.

Should NZ advanced category pilots fly the Q rather than the Known ?

Australian Aerobatic Club Rules & Regulations

The following links are to the PDF documents on the Australian Aerobatic Club website.
Section 1 – Introduction Section 2 – Operations and Procedures

Appendix 2.1 – Criteria for Judging Aerobatic Figures
Appendix 2.2 – Evaluation of Competition Flights and Code of Conduct for Judges
Appendix 2.3 – Intermediate Unknown Figures
Appendix 2.4 – Known Sequences
Appendix 2.5 – List of Qualified Judges
Appendix 2.6 – Judge’s Log Sheet
Appendix 2.7 – Procedure for Australian Team Selection
Appendix 2.8 – CASA EX49/11
Appendix 2.9 – Sample Event management Plan

The following sections can be viewed directly on this website, more convenient for searching, though unfortunately they’re without the diagrams.  The green text is changes, blue text is comments/explanations.
Criteria for Judging Aerobatic Figures
Evaluation of Competition Flights
Procedure for Australian Team Selection

IAC Official Contest Rulebook


The complete IAC rulebook, the link is provided here with permission of the IAC; their copyright notice follows.

Important Notice: Any IAC member or person acting on behalf of the IAC is hereby authorized to copy and print this document for personal or IAC-approved use. Any copy of this document or portion thereof must include this copyright notice. This document may be used for information only and may not be exploited for commercial purposes.

Download as single PDF file 2012 IAC Official Contest Rules

Should pilots fly safeties in the box ?

In New Zealand safeties consist of two half-rolls flown in the box, prior to the start of the sequence. This is per IAC rules. In NZ the purpose of the safeties is regarded as safety only (e.g. loose items, harness, inverted oil pressure) and safeties are not commonly flown in the box. Safeties may be flown outside the box.

In Australia and Europe safeties consist of two half-rolls plus a loop (humpty, stall turn or cuban-8 for advanced and unlimited) flown in the box.  This is per CIVA rules.  The purpose (in addition to safety) is to assess wind-drift in the box, and allow the judges to acquaint themselves with the appearance of the aircraft. In Oz safeties are almost always flown. Safeties may not be flown outside the box.

Advantages of the Oz approach: safeties help you assess the wind, fine-tune your entry into the box, and plan for drift during the sequence. They help the judges get their eye in. Disadvantage: they take a little time, though the judges don’t have to be ready while safeties are flown.

Do you think flying safeties in the box is a good idea ?  Vote or add a comment.