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12/2/21 

AIM 

ATC whether proceeding visually and canceling IFR 
or complying with the missed approach instructions. 
See paragraph 5

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15, Canceling IFR Flight Plan. 

(e) 

Where any necessary visual reference 

requirements are specified by the FAA, at least one of 
the following visual references for the intended 
heliport is visible and identifiable before the pilot 
may proceed visually: 

(1) 

FATO or FATO lights. 

(2) 

TLOF or TLOF lights. 

(3) 

Heliport Instrument Lighting System 

(HILS). 

(4) 

Heliport Approach Lighting System 

(HALS). 

(5) 

Visual Glideslope Indicator (VGSI). 

(6) 

Windsock or windsock light. 

(7) 

Heliport beacon. 

(8) 

Other facilities or systems approved by 

the Flight Technologies and Procedures Division 
(AFS

400). 

2.  Approach to a Point

in

Space (PinS).

 At 

locations where the MAP is located more than 2 SM 
from the landing area, or the path from the MAP to the 
landing area is populated with obstructions which 
require avoidance actions or requires turn greater 
than 30 degrees, a PinS Proceed VFR procedure may 
be developed. These approaches are annotated 
“PROCEED VFR FROM (named MAP) OR 
CONDUCT THE SPECIFIED MISSED AP-
PROACH.” 

(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 (e.g., Part 91, Part 135, 
etc.), 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 Specifica-
tions) whichever is higher. 

(b) 

Visual contact with the landing site is not 

required; however, the pilot must have the 
appropriate VFR weather minimums throughout the 
visual segment. The visibility is limited to no lower 
than that published in the procedure, until canceling 
IFR. 

(c) 

IFR obstruction clearance areas are not 

applied to the VFR segment between the MAP and 
the landing site. Pilots are responsible for obstacle or 
terrain avoidance from the MAP to the landing area. 

(d) 

Upon reaching the MAP defined on the 

approach procedure, or as soon as practicable 
thereafter, the pilot should advise ATC whether 
proceeding VFR and canceling IFR, or complying 
with the missed approach instructions. See paragraph 
5

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15, Canceling IFR Flight Plan. 

(e) 

If the visual segment penetrates Class B, 

C, or D airspace, pilots are responsible for obtaining 
a Special VFR clearance, when required. 

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4.  The Gulf of Mexico Grid System 

a. 

On October 8, 1998, the Southwest Regional 

Office of the FAA, with assistance from the 
Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference (HSAC), 
implemented the world’s first Instrument Flight 
Rules (IFR) Grid System in the Gulf of Mexico. This 
navigational route structure is completely indepen-
dent of ground

based navigation aids (NAVAIDs) 

and was designed to facilitate helicopter IFR 
operations to offshore destinations. The Grid System 
is defined by over 300 offshore waypoints located 20 
minutes apart (latitude and longitude). Flight plan 
routes are routinely defined by just 4 segments: 
departure point (lat/long), first en route grid 
waypoint, last en route grid waypoint prior to 
approach procedure, and destination point (lat/long). 
There are over 4,000 possible offshore landing sites. 
Upon reaching the waypoint prior to the destination, 
the pilot may execute an Offshore Standard Approach 
Procedure (OSAP), a Helicopter En Route Descent 
Areas (HEDA) approach, or an Airborne Radar 
Approach (ARA). For more information on these 
helicopter instrument procedures, refer to FAA AC 
90

80B,  Approval of Offshore Standard Approach 

Procedures, Airborne Radar Approaches, and 
Helicopter En Route Descent Areas, on the FAA 
website http://www.faa.gov under Advisory Circu-
lars. The return flight plan is just the reverse with the 
requested stand

alone GPS approach contained in the 

remarks section. 

Helicopter IFR Operations 

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