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6/17/21 

AIM 

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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: 
“PROCEED VISUALLY FROM (NAMED MAP) 
OR CONDUCT THE SPECIFIED MISSED 
APPROACH.” 

(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 
segment. 

(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

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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 

(HILS). 

(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 
(AFS

400). 

NOTE

 

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 
FROM (NAMED MAP) OR CONDUCT THE 
SPECIFIED MISSED APPROACH.” 

(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 

Helicopter IFR Operations 

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