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Aviation => Pilot/Controller Forum => Topic started by: jdog4592 on March 09, 2009, 04:59:04 PM

Post by: jdog4592 on March 09, 2009, 04:59:04 PM
Hellow, my name is jordon whisler im 16 and very interested in aviation, especialy helicopters. i have a great many questions and much learning to do. but the one question i have that i cant find out the answer for is.... how does a helicopter communicate to atc? does a helicopter verticaly take off or taxi to runway whyle hovering? does a helicopter have more VFR freedom than a fixed wing such as a cessna. i would like to know many of these answers if someone could help or show me a website that can that would be very helpfull to my dream of aviation..... i am also very interested in fixed wing aircraft.
Post by: KSYR-pjr on March 09, 2009, 07:36:36 PM
At my class C airport there are at least three helicopters based on-field, including a NY State Police helicopter.   All are located on the south side of the airport, whereas the scheduled airlines are located north of the main runway. 

To depart, these pilots will call tower directly and request a VFR departure in some direction, for example "Grey Rider One (this is the State Police callsign), VFR departure to the south at or below 1,500 feet."  Tower will normally respond something to effect of, "Grey Rider One, remain south of runway 10/28 at all times, departure to the south approved. Cleared for takeoff from taxiway Hotel." 

The helis, who had hover-taxied from the non-movement area to the hold short line of the taxiway just before making their call, will then hover-taxi onto the taxiway and lift off while remaining above the taxiway. 

I have also seen the State Police helicopter depart right from their portable trailer that they use to move the aircraft into and out of their hangar.

LiveATC used to have a La Guardia tower feed and there were a lot of police and news helicopter traffic that could be heard there.  These days, you might be able to catch some traffic on the JFK Tower feed.

In terms of VFR freedom, I believe (as I am not a certificated heli pilot) they mostly operate under the same rules as VFR fixed wing with the exception of how low they can fly (helis much lower legally than VFR fixed wing) and their visibility/cloud clearance requirements (again, much lower than VFR fixed wing).

There are IFR helicopter operations, too, but I know even less about their nuances. 
Post by: jdog4592 on March 09, 2009, 08:27:01 PM
Thank you very much for your info. that answered a lot thankyou!!! :-D
Post by: KSYR-pjr on March 09, 2009, 09:22:54 PM
Oh, I forgot to include a few links for your reading. 

1)  In case you are not yet familiar, the US AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual) has a link pertaining to helicopter operations, found by clicking here ( 

2)  The FAA's Instrument Procedures Handbook is online and has a section dedicated to IFR helicopter operations, found here ( (look for chapter 7 in the middle of that page).

3)  The FAA's FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations) has several references to helicopters in the part 91 (General Operating and Flight Rules) section, found here (

Post by: djmodifyd on March 09, 2009, 09:23:37 PM
Well, I can't add much to this at all...
At our airport, we have HELI's land and depart from any movement area...usually a taxiway, sometimes a runway.

if the helo pilot isn't familiar with our taxiways, we just have them land on a runway and hovertaxi to their destination.

Helos are very easy to work, and worst comes to worst we can just have them "stop"
Post by: KSYR-pjr on March 09, 2009, 09:33:59 PM
Oh, here's a quick anecdote, too - one night last December a US Army Blackhawk had landed (well, actually approached a taxiway parallel to the main runway and then hover-stopped), and then was instructed to hover-taxi down the straight-in taxiway to our FBO.  I was in the process of wrapping my aircraft's cowling for a few nights of plugged-in warmth when I caught sight of its taxi in.

That night there was a dusting of newly fallen dry snow, including on the taxiway, so when the Blackhawk hover-taxied into the FBO it looked like the Tasmanian Devil (from Bugs Bunny) approaching the ramp.  All we could see were the bright landing lights and a large cloud of blowing snow and of course all we could hear was the sound of the rotors.  The helicopter itself could not be seen.  With all that snow blowing around I had a hard time imagining how those pilots could see their way in, but then again the winds were originating from the aircraft so I suppose it was easier than it appeared from the outside looking in.
Post by: jdog4592 on March 09, 2009, 10:58:52 PM
AGIAN thank you very much this was of great help ill probably be reading and studing this material for a wyle :-D
Post by: ccommjim on May 13, 2009, 04:47:41 PM
As a heli pilot myself I can say, we see more from the inside that those outside since we are the maker of the dust.
It can be blinding at times though.  Military versions also use GPS and IFR to guide them to within a couple feet of where they need to be.
If it was dirt of other potentially damaging debris, it would be very irresponsible of them to do that though and is part of our training to try to avoid the flurry of stuff that goes flying.
If no option, get in, land quick, slow rotors down ASAP and then rotor brake.  We still have to follow shut down check list though but can push times if sending damaging debris is flying around.
Post by: stewflyer on May 21, 2009, 05:32:41 AM
private pilot in fx-wing and working on helicopter .Always wondering how to deal with Landing at control tower with helicopter not much in the text books that I have got on how helicopter pilots talk to ATC and what to expect. my biggest fear is to be at a hover and told to switch to a different frequency . With both hands busy and new at flying helicopter how do you pro's handle this?

And do we as helicopter pilots have to stay on taxi way or can we hover over lets say grass area to another taxi spot?  And Since i am new and I know helicopter can land pretty much anywhere but what if i call aiport request to land ,but do not want to go directly to that spot like a confined area until i get to a hover how do you request Stuff like this? thanx
Post by: atcman23 on May 22, 2009, 07:27:03 AM
You're right there isn't much in the books on that.  ATC should not expect you to switch frequencies during a hover.  And if they do ask you do and you are solo and are unable to at that time, you can reply to ATC and advise them you are flying solo and unable to change frequencies at that time.  Typically, ATC will only keep you on the local control frequency (the guy or gal that gives you clearance to takeoff/land) and will not switch you over to ground.

As long as you're not going to hit anything, you can hover-taxi beyond the taxiway, but it's probably suggested that you try and follow the taxiway as much as possible if you can.  Because you can land anywhere, if you want to land in a grassy area near a confined area, such as a group of hangers, just request where you want to land to ATC (i.e.  " the grassy area near the South hangers").  If it's in a movement area, once you hand, you'll need to request permission to proceed to where you want to go but, more than likely given the scenario, you'll be landing in a non-movement area and will not need ATC permission to proceed.  ATC will likely grant the request as "proceed as requested" and if they cannot clearly see the spot you may be landing in they'll also say "landing will be at your own risk."  The same applies for takeoffs from similar areas.

Basically, just tell the controller what you'd like to do and see if they will approve it.  If not, the controller will likely help you out by giving additional options.

Hope this helps!
Post by: chadgeezee on April 21, 2019, 11:27:27 AM
I live in an area with heavy Helicopter Traffic. An example of typical comms at a Heliport such as KGAO (Galliano, Louisiana) go something like this:

Filing Flight Plan with the Helicopter Owner (Company):

(Helo to Company ATC): Broussard (company ATC in charge of area), Island 1-1 (helicopter callsign).
(Company ATC to Helo): Broussard, go ahead Island 1-1.
(Helo to Company): Island 1-1 will be off of Galliano for Green Canyon 65, eta 05 after the hour, 4 souls on board, with 2.5 (hours of flight time on current fuel), Island 1-1.
(Company to Helo): (Company will repeat above)

To prepare for takeoff, the Pilot will then switch to comm 2 which they will have set to Galliano Unicom so that they can report position to nearby airspace traffic (such as other helicopters, crop dusters, fish spotting planes, etc..)

(Helo to Unicom) Galliano Traffic, Rotorcraft N660RC (tail number) off of Alpha 5 (helipad location), repositioning to the flyway (or airport taxiway if at airport), North Takeoff with a right turn out and Southwest Departure, Climb to 1 thousand 2 hundred, 0RC (abbreviated tail number).

The Pilot will reposition the Helicopter to the "flyway" (makeshift runway at most Heliports) or the airport taxiway.

(Helo to Unicom): Galliano Traffic, Rotorcraft 0RC, is on the go, Rotorcraft flyway, North Takeoff with a right turn out and Southwest Departure, Climb to 1 thousand 2 hundred, 0RC.

Helicopter will then depart the heliport to the North and climb to 300 ft., make the left hand turn to the desired southwesterly heading, and continue its climb to 1,200 ft. Helo will make two follow-up calls to the Unicom channel; one at 5 miles away from heliport, and one at 10 miles from the heliport. It will also make one follow-up call to the Company ATC; when it "beaches out" meaning when it transitions from being over land to over Gulf of Mexico Waters.

(Helo to Unicom): Galliano Traffic, Rotorcraft 0RC is 5 miles southwest of Galliano out of 1 thousand for 1,200, southwest heading, Rotorcraft 0RC.

(Helo to Company): Broussard, Island 1-1 beach out with 55 to go (minutes left to destination)
(Company to Helo): Island 1-1 is Beach Out with 55 to go (minutes left to destination), copy, Broussard)

(Helo to Unicom): Galliano Traffic, Rotorcraft 0RC is 10 miles southwest of Galliano at 1,200, southwest heading, Rotorcraft 0RC.

The pilot will then monitor the Company ATC channel on comm 2 and the customer company channel on comm 1. The Pilot will make two calls to the customer's oil platform; one call when 20 minutes out for landing (so that they may prepare the heliport for its arrival), and one call when it is 5 minutes out from landing (so that the platform personnel can give the pilot a "Green Light" to land). If for some reason the platform personnel do not respond to the 5 minute out call; or do not give the pilot a green light to land, the pilot will circle the platform until it; they answer and give the green light to land, or if radios are down, the pilot will have the company ATC make a phone call to the platform to get the green light to land and rely that back to the pilot.

As per company and FAA regulation, while offshore, the pilot is required to make a call to the company ATC every 2 hours, regardless of if they are flying around or they are shut down on a platform, to check in