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Legal Requirements for a Heliport

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Legal Requirements for a Heliport

Helipad with Helicopter

A recent study conducted by a Council of City Planners showed that city-based Heliports can improve widespread traffic congestion in crowded cities and developing areas.

These traffic congestions – understandably mostly felt by hospitals and in some cases businesses – are time and productivity thieves; they are problematic, potentially dangerous, and can even cost some people their lives.

Legal Requirements for a Heliport or Helipad

However, access to and approval of these suitable Heliports is often limited by the high demand for real estate in these specific areas as well as the multi-storey buildings taking up most of the city space. The answer to this struggle could possibly be to create elevated Heliports on rooftops of suitable buildings.

Regarding the legal requirements set out by the South African Civil Aviation Authority for a Heliport; is it firstly important to note that there is a substantial difference between a Heliport and a Helipad.  The first being defined as an area either at ground level or elevated on a structure that is used for the landing and take-off of Helicopters. It includes some or all of the various facilities such as Helicopter Parking Bays, a Waiting Room, fixed fuel installations, and maintenance organisations.  A Helipad on the other hand is a landing and take-off area for Helicopters, mostly used in emergency situations and thus less frequently used than a Heliport.  As such, it is relevant to state that the requirements for the licensing of a Heliport are considerably more extensive and far stricter than those of a Helipad.

Heliports; design and location should be such that cross wind operations are kept to a minimum, and downwind operations should be avoided.  

Heliports ideally have two approaches at 180º apart, which should give an acceptable degree of usability provided one approach means flying into the prevailing wind direction; but in some cases, this is not possible.

Legal Requirements for a Heliport or Helipad

If the Heliport is to be used by a Helicopter other than a performance Class 1 Helicopter, it should be so located that an emergency landing can be conducted at any time along the inbound and outbound routes including the take-off and approach paths without any undue risk to any person or property on the ground.

To own a Heliport, one needs to adhere to the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) Part 139 as well as the Civil Aviation Technical Standards (CATS) Part 139.03.1 – 139.03.5 requirements.  These Parts advise a potential owner with regards to the licencing, design, operations manual, as well as a quality assurance system needed.

One of these requirements is that the Heliport must have a 60 m-diameter (30 m-radius) public safety area, stretching beyond the actual Heliport and clear of obstructions, in case of accidents during landings and lift-offs.  This means that some rooftops may not be viable for a Heliport because of their width and length.

Apart from the CARS and CATS Part 139.031 – 139.03.5 will the South African Civil Aviation Authority further only license a Heliport to come into existence if the following additional requirements are met:

  • Letter of no objection from the Local Municipality
  • Letter of no objection from Air Traffic & Navigation Services
  • Approval from the National Airspace Committee
  • Publish for public comments.

It may take a layman several months to frustratingly fully adhere to these requirements, leaving a bitter taste in the owner’s mouth, and a gap in an ever-growing market.

Businessman Walking Towards Helicopter Whilst Talking On Mobile Phone

Martin Vermaak Attorneys can provide you with the information required to obtain the SACAA approval for Heliport or Helipad designs at ICAO standards.  Please contact us for a no-obligation initial consultation.

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