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Helicopter overflying airplane

Discussion in 'Air Traffic Control' started by propsync, Feb 23, 2017.

  1. propsync

    propsync Well-Known Member

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    Not exactly sure if this is a controller question or not, but is a helicopter allowed to overfly an airplane on a ramp or taxiway?
     
  2. MikeD

    MikeD Administrator Staff Member

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    Physically they are able to. But they should do everything reasonable to avoid doing so at low altitudes in approach/departure flight due to downwash causing potential damage or blowing around debris. Heavier wheel-equipped helicopters will generally takeoff and land using a runway or taxiway for just that reason, to avoid downwash of hovering flight and being able to tax in/out at flat pitch where there is no downwash.
     
  3. CatchyScreenName

    CatchyScreenName Well-Known Member

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    Not enough info really.

    While hopping rides out of Destin years ago we had an airport designated "helipad" next to the hangar next to the main taxiway and on the inner taxiway. Since it was a helicopter I normally flew a right hand pattern and shoot my approach to the main taxiway. Occasionally someone would be taxiing to Destin Jet and I would just sidestep a little and modify my approach to keep my speed and altitude up while passing them.

    In that instance at a reduced power setting and staying at least one rotor diameter distance in height above them at worst case scenario might cause a slight disturbance in a little Cessna. I never got one complaint though I'm sure a lot of weekend warriors probably freaked out when they saw me coming in. They probably thought it was dangerous as heck but they probably don't know crapola about helicopters either.

    Now, if they are hover taxiing over an aircraft at a high power setting that wouldn't be cool. Taking off over top of someone at a high power setting wouldn't be cool either.
     
  4. propsync

    propsync Well-Known Member

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    This was an airliner engaged in 121 ops pushed away from the gate in the middle of an uncontrolled ramp area.
     
  5. CatchyScreenName

    CatchyScreenName Well-Known Member

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    If there is plenty of room to go around the obstacle(there wasn't in my example above) then it would be prudent to do so I guess it would really depend on how high above the airliner they actually were.

    at a certain point where an engine failure glide path wouldn't cause a collision I would probably turn on course if I were in a helicopter, that's kind of the point of helicopter ops, direct to ramp, avoid the flow, etc, etc

    so without really knowing if the guy in the helicopter was a true pro that had considered all the things I said and probably more or just being a jerk - its kind of hard to say whether the overflight was either or.
     
  6. propsync

    propsync Well-Known Member

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    I'm not up on my part 91, but is a helicopter exempt from the 500' or 1000' rule?
     
  7. CatchyScreenName

    CatchyScreenName Well-Known Member

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    not any more than airplanes, which off the top of my head it says something to the effect of "except for takeoff and landing..."
     
  8. MikeFavinger

    MikeFavinger Well-Known Member

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    At what altitude?

    I see three parts in answering your overall question.

    1. ATC instructions. I'll routinely get instructions on take off or landing to not overfly the RJ on taxiway whatever.

    2. Fly neighborly. I personally don't want to overfly anyone at too low of an an altitude so I don't freak them out. "Too low" is subjective.

    3. Safety. I don't want to overfly small aircraft so I don't damage them. The altitude I won't overfly them at is subjective.

    The part 91 min alt rules generally don't apply to helicopters.
     
  9. propsync

    propsync Well-Known Member

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    Don't know the exact altitude but I can tell you it was low enough to cause a brief engine start malfunction due to the airflow in the engine I would guess, also shake an airliner noticeably- probably 20-50' would be my guess. As far as ATC instructions are concerned, not sure what they were told. When I queried the tower, we were told that the ramp was uncontrolled. My concern apart from the very obvious would also be sucking in FOD into the engine.
     
  10. MikeFavinger

    MikeFavinger Well-Known Member

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    In that case, yeah - that was bad form from the helicopter pilot.
     
  11. deadstick

    deadstick Well-Known Member

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    91.119
    (d) Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface—

    (1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) [these are the congested/other than congested area rules] of this section, provided each person operating the ahelicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and
     
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  12. MikeFavinger

    MikeFavinger Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. Rocketing right over a jet ain't cool.
     
  13. MikeD

    MikeD Administrator Staff Member

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    A helicopter pilot is responsible for his rotorwash.
     
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  14. Low_Level_Hell

    Low_Level_Hell Well-Known Member

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    Overflying another aircraft at that altitude is unsafe and unprofessional, but I'd be surprised if it caused any type of engine starting issues, especially for a jet engine.
     
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