Airplanes & Heli Airport Seperation

AirVenture

Well-Known Member
I fly out of a towered airport with a high volume of helicopter operations along with a moderate amount of fixed wing traffic. The helicopters rarely use the runway and instead land to the left and right of the runway, on either the ramp or an open grassy area. Tower will clear airplanes to land/takeoff while helis are using these areas (which are abeam the runway's touchdown zone). According to Google Earth's ruler the heli's end up being only 250-300ft from the runway's edge. These are large turbine powered Bell and Europcopter helicopters, some of which are practicing autorotations. The majority of the time fixed wing operates left traffic while heli's use right traffic. Is this too close? What are the regulations that pertain to this?
 

HiDef

New Member
Wow, no responses to this yet? I skimmed the .65 and it really only discusses separation from heliports in regards to other helo's and not fixed wings. I would imagine there is either a local directive or a notam discussing the frequent helicopter operations in close proximity to the runway since it sounds like its a common operation there. Otherwise, as a tower controller (and atc in Iraq where I dealt mostly with helos) I use visual and good judgement, especially if you're dealing with helos that generate more downwash. By the way 200ft is standard sep. for helo to helo ops conducting simultaneous landings or takeoffs.

HD
 

whysoserial

New Member
Separation is don't hit each other.

Is traffic information exchanged? There could be a LOA with the helicopters to not overfly the runway and all that crap unless authorized by ATC. What type airspace? D?
 

AirVenture

Well-Known Member
Hey, thanks for the responses guys.

The airport is somewhat out of the ordinary since it's Class E, but towered, and located under a Class B shelf. I'm not sure how controler reponsibilities differ from that of a Class D airport. I don't have my AF/D on me, but AirNav makes metion of extensive helicopter traffic on the field.
 

whysoserial

New Member
Yeah, there won't be much in terms of separation then. Traffic will be given most likely and that's it. Consider this, I work at a class C tower. A special VFR helicopter only needs to be separated by an IFR aircraft inbound by 1/2 a mile. You can imagine what it would be for 2 VFR's in class E, or D for that matter. Traffic information and that's about it. Why not give the tower a call and ask. Can't hurt. Where is this airport anyway?
 

MikeDelta

Well-Known Member
Controller applied visual separation.

We do that sort of thing a lot at my airport, I restrict the helo to remain south of rwy27 (or whatever I need) and just call traffic to all of the landing aircraft.
 

AirVenture

Well-Known Member
Thanks guys, yeah we just all do our best to maintain visual seperation. Tower will rarely point out heli traffic, so I just listen very closely on the radio. They also don't point out traffic shooting approaches to 35 as planes depart 17. Maybe I'm just use to the supurior handling we had at the last airport I taught out of, but I'm slightly dissapointed with the quality of control I've seen at this new airport.

The other day I was #2 to land on the runway. I was cleared to land while I was on left downwind. Meanwhile a heli calls 5 mile out and was told to enter left base and is cleared to land on the ramp. He reports me in sight and I figure he'll be landing after me until I spot him quickly approaching the pattern before we turn left base. As I clear the area for my base/final sure enough I see the heli abeam me, but inside and slightly lower. Now I'm in the position where I would have to pass him on final as he slows to hover for the ramp. I eventually end up going around, because I wasn't comfortable with the way things were playing out. This is what got me thinking of the seperationg requirements. Never was I told the position of the heli. It would have been very benifitial to know he'd be overtaking me as he passed me low and on the inside.
 

SeeYA@GFK

Well-Known Member
Controller applied visual separation.

We do that sort of thing a lot at my airport, I restrict the helo to remain south of rwy27 (or whatever I need) and just call traffic to all of the landing aircraft.
I'm not too sure if that's the right answer. I don't know what kind of operation you are running with the helo's and fixed-wings together, but if you are using a surface (another runway, taxiway, helo pad, grass area, etc) you need this separation per the 7110.65: http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraf...cations/ATPubs/ATC/Chp3/atc0308.html#Tn850atc

It is true you can have the helo use visual separation between another landing aircraft (Category I+II), but the helo must land behind the aircraft obviously if using the same landing surface.

Here at GFK, we have numerous helo and fixed wing operations. If your not familar with our set up we have two north/south parallel runways spaced about 3500' apart. Our helo's basically operate inbetween the runways. When they need a hard surface we give them the parallel taxiway spaced 200'-300' from the runway.

Per the 7110.65 paragraph that I supplied above, any Cat. 1 aircraft can be side by side from another helo landing or departing from that parallel taxiway. We give a cautionary traffic call to all fixed wing aircraft that will be 'side-by-side' with the helo. Now, when a Cat II or III departs/lands, they cannot be side-by-side at our airport due to the close proximity of the taxiway and not meeting the minimium separation standards. So we either have to hold the helo on the ground or delay the takeoff/landing of the fixed wing.

If your wondering why section 3-8-1 does not say anything about helicopters directly, it's because they all (with a few execptions of course) are considered Cat I (Lightweight, single-engine, propeller driven) aircraft.

There's some other cavats, but this is basically the jist of it. Hope this helps!
 

LawnGnome

Well-Known Member
A special VFR helicopter only needs to be separated by an IFR aircraft inbound by 1/2 a mile. quote]

Actually a special VFR helicopter needs to be separated from an IFR aircraft by one mile when the a/c is more than a mile from the airport...and 1/2 mile when the a/c is inside a mile.

Just clarifying it a bit.
 

whysoserial

New Member
A special VFR helicopter only needs to be separated by an IFR aircraft inbound by 1/2 a mile. quote]

Actually a special VFR helicopter needs to be separated from an IFR aircraft by one mile when the a/c is more than a mile from the airport...and 1/2 mile when the a/c is inside a mile.

Just clarifying it a bit.
Yes, but considering we are talking about near runway operations with this post which I was directing it toward...I don't feel it's necessary to include every situation out there.
 

LawnGnome

Well-Known Member
The only problem I could see if the helicopter is operating within the holdshort markings for a runway that another aircraft is making an approach to...other than that, just issue traffic back and forth...seems like there could be other areas for the helicopters to practice their approaches beside the active runway...along side another runway that isn't the primary or somewhere else on the airfield.

You can really bend almost every rule with a helicopter...
 
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