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Helicopter IFR Operations


−1−3. Helicopter Approach Procedures

to VFR Heliports


Helicopter approaches may be developed for

heliports that do not meet the design standards for an
IFR heliport. The majority of IFR approaches to VFR
heliports are developed in support of helicopter
emergency medical services (HEMS) operators.
These approaches can be developed from conven-
tional NAVAIDs or a RNAV system (including GPS).
They are developed either as a Special Approach
(pilot training is required for special procedures due
to their unique characteristics) or a public approach
(no special training required). These instrument
procedures are developed as either an approach
designed to a specific landing site, or an approach
designed to a point


1. Approach to a specific landing site.


approach is aligned to a missed approach point from
which a landing can be accomplished with a
maximum course change of 30 degrees. The visual
segment from the MAP to the landing site is evaluated
for obstacle hazards. These procedures are annotated:


This phrase requires the pilot to either

acquire and maintain visual contact with the landing
site at or prior to the MAP, or execute a missed
approach. The visibility minimum is based on the
distance from the MAP to the landing site, among
other factors.


The pilot is required to maintain the

published minimum visibility throughout the visual


Similar to an approach to a runway, the

missed approach segment protection is not provided
between the MAP and the landing site, and obstacle
or terrain avoidance from the MAP to the landing site
is the responsibility of the pilot.


Upon reaching the MAP defined on the

approach procedure, or as soon as practicable after
reaching the MAP, the pilot advises ATC whether
proceeding visually and canceling IFR or complying
with the missed approach instructions. See para-
graph 5

−1−15, Canceling IFR Flight Plan.


At least one of the following visual

references must be visible or identifiable before the
pilot may proceed visually:


FATO or FATO lights.


TLOF or TLOF lights.


Heliport Instrument Lighting System



Heliport Approach Lighting System

(HALS) or lead

−in lights.


Visual Glideslope Indicator (VGSI).


Windsock or windsock light(s). See

note below.


Heliport beacon. See note below.


Other facilities or systems approved by

the Flight Technologies and Procedures Division



Windsock lights and heliport beacons should be located
within 500 ft of the TLOF.

2. Approach to a Point

−in−Space (PinS).  At

locations where the MAP is located more than 2 SM
from the landing site, or the path from the MAP to the
landing site is populated with obstructions which
require avoidance actions or requires turns greater
than 30 degrees, a PinS procedure may be developed.
These approaches are annotated “PROCEED VFR


These procedures require the pilot, at or

prior to the MAP, to determine if the published
minimum visibility, or the weather minimums
required by the operating rule, or operations
specifications (whichever is higher) is available to
safely transition from IFR to VFR flight. If not, the
pilot must execute a missed approach. For Part 135
operations, pilots may not begin the instrument
approach unless the latest weather report indicates
that the weather conditions are at or above the
authorized IFR minimums or the VFR weather
minimums (as required by the class of airspace,
operating rule and/or Operations Specifications)
whichever is higher.


Visual contact with the landing site is not

required; however, the pilot must maintain the
appropriate VFR weather minimums throughout the
visual segment. The visibility is limited to no lower