Heliports are landing pads designed for helicopters and powered lift aircraft. They are constructed either from steel, concrete, or aluminum.
Heliports are constructed on the roofs of skyscrapers, private buildings, hospitals, golf courses, and other places where helicopters are commonly used.
This article discusses the types and construction features of heliports.
Types of Heliports
Heliports can be constructed either on the ground or at an elevation. An elevated heliport can be constructed on a rooftop or elevated structure.
Heliports can be of the following types based on the industry they are used for:
- General aviation heliports
- Transport heliports
- Hospital heliports
- Airport heliports
1. General Aviation Heliports
The helicopters used by individuals, corporations, and helicopter air taxi services are accommodated under general aviation heliports. Most of the general aviation heliports are privately owned.
2. Transport Heliports
Transport heliports accommodate large helicopters that perform air carrier operations.
3. Hospital Heliports
Hospital heliports are used to accommodate helicopters used for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). During emergencies, large military helicopters are also accommodated by hospital heliports.
4. Helicopter Facilities at Airports
Helicopters operate in most airports without interfering with airplane traffic to perform separate services. Separate terminals and gates for helicopter boarding with interconnecting passenger traffic are provided in the airports.
A person who uses a helicopter to go to an airport must ensure that the airport has convenient space and services at the airport terminal. These services include locations with exclusive helicopter facilities, TLOFs, FATOs, safety areas, approach/departure paths, helicopter taxi routes, and taxiways.
Construction Features of Heliports
- Some of the basic elements of heliports are Final Approach and Takeoff Area (FATO), Touchdown and Liftoff Area (TLOF), safety area, and wind cone.
- FATO is an area over which the pilot completes the final phase of the approach to land or from where the departure is made. Touchdown and Liftoff area (TLOF) is a load-bearing and paved area normally centered in FATO, on which a helicopter performs a touchdown or liftoff.
- The TLOF size is a function of helicopter type and rotor diameter (RD). TLOF can be square, rectangular or circular.
- Every heliport will have at least one TLOF. A TLOF can be located within or outside FATO.
- Heliports are usually constructed using concrete and are marked with the letter ‘H’ or circle to make them visible from the air.
- Ground heliports are usually made of Portland cement concrete with at least 6 inches of thickness.
- Each heliport is marked according to its purpose. For example, for hospitals, ‘H’ is painted in red with a cross outlined in the background. For all other heliports, ‘H’ is painted in white.
- Each heliport has the maximum gross weight it can support painted on it. It must also mention the maximum dimensions of the helicopter allowed to land.
- The dimension of heliports should not be less than 40 x 40 feet. In addition, the safety area around the heliport must be free of obstacles, and it must be at least twice the area of the heliport.
- Heliports are designed to have a non-slippery surface.
- Windcones are located to provide pilots with the wind direction and speed information near the heliport. Wind cones are located on the approach path such that it is seen by the pilot when the helicopter is 150 meters from the TLOF.
It is recommended to consult the local air program in the early planning stages of any helipad construction. The helipad construction must follow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), state and local zoning regulations, etc.
For more details, visit: Advisory Circular-U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration
Heliports are landing pads designed for helicopters and powered lift aircraft.
Helipads are constructed either from steel, concrete, or aluminum.
FATO is an area over which the pilot completes the final phase of the approach to land or from where the departure is made. Touchdown and Liftoff area (TLOF) is a load-bearing and paved area normally centered in FATO, on which a helicopter performs a touchdown or liftoff.