Safety Precautions All Helicopter Pilots Must Follow

If you’re going on a helicopter ride, your pilot must follow certain safety precautions, with some of the standards different from those planes must meet. Chances are, the helicopter you’ll be riding falls under the private designation “general aviation,” which is governed by Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

The aviation accident lawyers at Pope and Howard, P.C. in Atlanta, GA, want you to be aware of the rules these regulations lay out for helicopter pilots before you embark on your journey. And if you or a loved one ever becomes a victim of a helicopter accident due to pilot error, contact our experienced Atlanta, GA aviation lawyers for help.

Air Traffic Requirements for Helicopters

When in the vicinity of an airport, commercial airlines must follow specific traffic patterns, while helicopters just have to stay out of the way. When flying in Class G airspace—outside of air traffic control jurisdiction—or Class D airspace—from the surface to 2,500 feet Mean Sea Level above the airport elevation—your helicopter pilot must “avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft,” according to Part 91.

Minimum Visibility Requirements for Helicopters

Although the rules aren’t as strict as they are for planes, Part 91 lists specific visibilities helicopter pilots require to fly at different altitudes and times of day:

At or below 1,200 feet (regardless of Mean Sea Level altitude):

  • Daytime: 1/2 statute mile
  • Nighttime: 1 statute mile

More than 1,200 feet above the surface but less than 10,000 feet MSL:

  • Daytime: 1 statute mile
  • Nighttime: 3 statute miles

When more than 1,200 feet above the surface and at or above 10,000 feet MSL, a helicopter pilot can only fly if there are five statute miles of visibility.

In order to prevent decreased visibility, helicopter pilots are urged to avoid cloud coverage. When flying less than 1,200 feet above the surface, a helicopter must fly “clear of clouds,” and when above 12,000 feet, the helicopter must stay 500 feet below, 1,000 feet above, 2,000 feet away horizontally from clouds.

Minimum Fuel Requirements for Helicopters

Helicopters must carry enough fuel to reach their planned landing site with an extra 20 minutes of fuel remaining, taking weather into consideration to ensure that they don’t run out during the flight.

Even if you reach your destination, the pilot has violated Part 91 regulations if there isn’t that extra 20 minutes of fuel left over.

Pope and Howard Can Help Helicopter Accident Victims Receive Just Compensation

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a helicopter accident, Pope and Howard in Atlanta, GA, is here to help. As one of the Georgia’s leading aviation accident law firms, Pope and Howard serves clients all over the state, from Atlanta to Macon to Augusta. Our legal team extensively investigates each aviation accident case to help victims and their families achieve just compensation. Contact us to set up a free consultation today.

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