Press Room

Civil Aviation Authority Of The Cayman Islands (CAACI) Safety Alert On Kite Flying

George Town, Grand Cayman, 24th March, 2017 – A serious incident that occurred on the evening of Friday 17th March 2017 makes it necessary for the CAACI to repeat its previous warnings to the public about the flying of kites in the Cayman Islands.

In the incident, the RCIPS helicopter was on a routine flight in the West Bay area when the crew noticed a tethered kite flying in the vicinity of the cricket pitch. Whilst keeping the kite in sight, the crew maneuvered the aircraft to establish its height, which was estimated as being 300 ft Above Ground Level (AGL); in doing so, the helicopter struck the control line of a second kite. As a result of the collision a crew member was hit by the flailing line and the helicopter was damaged. Fortunately, the helicopter was able to land safely at Owen Roberts International Airport. An inspection found that in addition to some more superficial but expensive damage, a length of line had become wrapped around the rotor head of the helicopter which could have potentially restricted the control of the blades leading to a fatal accident.

The ill-considered use of kites poses a very real danger to the safe operation of helicopters. In 2007, a military helicopter was brought down in the Philippines after a collision with a kite led to cable becoming entangled in the rotor head restricting the control of the aircraft. The subsequent crash resulted in the death of the crew of two and seven people on the ground. In 2004, a US National Transportation Safety Board report identified a kite as a causal factor in the fatal accident of a Robinson R-22 helicopter which killed the crew of two.

The current legislation controlling the operation of kites in the Cayman Islands is contained in Article 71 of the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013 as amended.

Article 71 limits the height at which a kite can be flown to a maximum of 100 ft (AGL) within a 3 nautical mile radius of an airport. Beyond this distance, a kite cannot be flown above 200 ft AGL within the Cayman Islands.

In addition to this, it is strongly recommended that kites are not flown anywhere within the three islands after sunset and they certainly should not be set up to fly permanently or left to fly unattended.

The rules regulating kite flying may not be generally known and the purpose of this advisory is to provide the necessary information to allow the public to understand the potential hazards to aviation and to enjoy this recreational activity within the limits established by law.

In order to protect the safety of aircraft, the operators of kites being flown beyond the specified parameters are liable to be prosecuted and may have their equipment confiscated.

For further information on the safe operation of kites or other hobby crafts and the implication for safety of aviation concerns, please contact the Civil Aviation Authority on civil.aviation@caacayman.com , and visit our website at www.caacayman.com.