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Helicopter IFR Operations

10−1−3. Helicopter Approach Procedures

to VFR Heliports

a. 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−in−space.

1. Approach to a specific landing site.  The

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:




(a) 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.

(b) The pilot is required to maintain the

published minimum visibility throughout the visual


(c) 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.

(d) 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.

(e) At least one of the following visual

references must be visible or identifiable before the

pilot may proceed visually:

(1) FATO or FATO lights.
(2) TLOF or TLOF lights.
(3) Heliport Instrument Lighting System


(4) Heliport Approach Lighting System

(HALS) or lead−in lights.

(5) Visual Glideslope Indicator (VGSI).
(6) Windsock or windsock light(s). See

note below.

(7) Heliport beacon. See note below.
(8) 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



(a) 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.

(b) 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