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Building a Heli-Pad
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Building a Helipad for Your Community

If your emergency program or your community is considering building a helipad, the following information is provided as a guideline and should not be considered the rule in order for AirLIFE to land. There are a few questions you must have the answers to before you start breaking ground. Also, at the bottom of this page are three web links that will also help you gather information before you start.

  1. How large of a landing area is required for the helipad and where should it be located?

The size of the helicopter’s primary approach area, departure area, landing area, and the obstructions must be taken into consideration before determining the location. The AirLIFE helicopter must have a landing area of 100’ x 100’. The takeoff and approach areas should also be 100’ x 100’ and clear of all obstructions.

  1. What should the size of the helipad surface be, and how much weight should it support?

The ideal size of the helipad surface should be 50’ x 50’, but can be as small as 40’ x 40’. The landing surface should be able to support the helicopter at it’s maximum gross weight of 9,300 lbs.

  1. What kind of markers and markings should be on the helipad?

Suggestions for the markers and markings can be found in the FAA publication titled "Heliport Design, Advisory Circular 150/5390-2B" on page 64, paragraph 309. The advisory circular is a good guideline and only makes recommendations. The advisory Circular is not regulatory. A good suggestion is to paint your community or hospital name on the pad so the helicopter crews knows they are at the right place when they are landing.

  1. What kind of lighting should the helipad have for night missions?

Permanent helipad lighting is not required for AirLIFE to land, but some source of lighting must be provided; i.e.. vehicle headlights. Lighting the helipad may be difficult at some locations that are not co-located with a municipal or hospital building. In the advisory circular on page 66, paragraph 310, there are some suggested methods on how to light the helipad. We have found RED lights to be the most helpful in our locating the helipad during day or night operations.

  1. What should be taken into consideration regarding obstructions to the helicopter?

The most dangerous modes of flight for a helicopter are the takeoff and the landing phases. Obstructions such as wires, antenna poles, fences, and buildings are some of the worst hazards for the helicopter. Marking or removing these hazards is a very important factor to take into consideration when building the helipad.

Completely removing the obstruction is the best solution. If removal is out of the question, then marking the obstruction so it is clearly visible both day and night is the next best step. This can be accomplished by hanging orange balls on the wires, painting the poles or antennas, or putting a red light on top of the hazard.

Building a helipad is an important step for a community’s emergency program. It is beneficial to everyone who will have to use it; the local EMS program, the fire department, the hospital, AirLIFE, and most importantly, the patient. We hope the information that has been provided will answer some of your questions and will be of assistance in getting your helipad started. If you have any questions about building the helipad or any questions about the AirLIFE program, please call anytime 210-233-5800.

Mark E. Graveline
Pilot Training Officer
Air Methods Corp.

Air Methods Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems

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