Being in love with both fireworks and flying this is a question that I wondered about for quite some time.
Especially when watching videos like this (which is from 2009 showing a stunt plane flying stunts during night with sparklers on the wings and some single shots) or this (a glider with essentially the same effects like the stunt plane from 2015) I wonder what safety regulations apply.

Most certainly I am not allowed to duct tape some rockets to my wing and light them off remotely mid flight but I haven't heard about a firework rating or something similar either.

What requirements do I have to accomplish to be allowed to fly with pyrotechnics (mainly fireworks) on my plane? This would include anything additional directly in my PPL, permission by local authorities, special safety measures on the plane, etc.
This question is mainly regarding the european room (namely Germany) but I am also looking forward towards answers about regulations from other regions.

  • $\begingroup$ "Most certainly I am not allowed to duct tape some rockets to my wing and light them off remotely mid flight but I haven't heard about a firework rating or something similar either." I'm not so sure you aren't allowed. This may fall under "careless or reckless" but if you can prove you were neither, then all you might need is a sign-off from an FBO or possibly just an A&P saying the installation is safe. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 21 '18 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ In the US, depending on the type of fireworks you might need an ATF permit. I would assume most countries regulate professional type fireworks, whether on a plane or not $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jul 21 '18 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ Some Navion aircraft where originally equipped with flares to assist visibility at remote airstrips while landing. There have been several instances in which the pilots ran afoul with authorities on the ground. It violated public or city ordinances. Incidentally the flares have not been available or produced in over 30 years. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Jul 25 '18 at 7:34

I'll answer for the FAA since thats the jurisdiction I know. Like most things some may consider this careless or reckless operation as per 91.13 which is the FAA's catch-all for odd occurrences that are not worth explicitly regulating.

Sec. 91.13

Careless or reckless operation.

(a) Aircraft operations for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.

(b) Aircraft operations other than for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft, other than for the purpose of air navigation, on any part of the surface of an airport used by aircraft for air commerce (including areas used by those aircraft for receiving or discharging persons or cargo), in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.

I cant find anything that says "you cant tie fireworks to your plane and set them off" but that is an unlikely thing to bother regulating.

The TSA does not allow fireworks to be carried on aircraft and this AOPA article would make it seem as though they are not allowed to be transported by air at all. I would think this includes mounting them to the aircraft so you may be out as a result of this. Your local FSDO may be able to provide some more info on this and what you may need to do to make this ok.

The other thing to consider is that the FAA may consider this "dropping" so you would need to make sure you conform to 91.15.

Sec. 91.15

Dropping objects.

No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow any object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that creates a hazard to persons or property. However, this section does not prohibit the dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property.

  • $\begingroup$ If the fireworks are intended to be used in flight and properly integrated into the aircraft, then rules about transportation may not apply. For example, it's very illegal to transport jet fuel on a passenger aircraft, yet there are tons of the stuff on every flight. Other examples are passenger oxygen generators, crew oxygen tanks, lithium ion aircraft batteries and even pressurized tires. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Feb 25 at 23:37

FAA - FAR 14-1-C-43 Appendix A

Part 43 - Major Alterations, Major Repairs, and Preventive Maintenance

(a)Major alterations -

(1) Airframe major alterations. Alterations of the following parts and
    alterations of the following types, when not listed in the aircraft
    specifications issued by the FAA, are airframe major alterations:
(i) Wings.
(ii) Tail surfaces.
(iii) Fuselage.
(xiii) Changes to the wing or to fixed or movable control surfaces 
       which affect flutter and vibration characteristics. 

I think it would be next to impossible to convince the FAA this was not a "major" alteration of the aircraft "wing" or "fuselage". Cameras routinely mounted outside the aircraft violate this same section except for possibly mounting on a strut but the FAA has chosen to ignore it, at least for the time being.

In my experience the FAA will ignore it until someone complains - such as a frightened citizen saying a terrorist is shooting at people from an airplane. At that point you will probably be violated on a number of charges and see some hefty fines and maybe even prison time.

In addition most airport properties and fire departments have laws prohibiting alcohol, firearms, explosives, carriage of flammable products in unauthorized containers, and incendiary devices - depending on the type of fireworks, it will be considered explosive, incendiary, or both.

  • $\begingroup$ I see. However there has to be an exception, I guess if people at an airshow may have pyrotechnics mounted (see the linked videos in the question). Especially for events like Oshkosh I expect similar shows to be flown which would definitely draw the FAA's attention. Or would those have to be custom built planes which were approved from the beginning. $\endgroup$ – geisterfurz007 Jul 25 '18 at 8:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Air shows require a special permit from the FAA and local government agencies including the fire department. The permit requires special safety equipment, insurance, operations, and a host of other limitations and requirments. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Jul 25 '18 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Thanks for the insight! $\endgroup$ – geisterfurz007 Jul 25 '18 at 8:14

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