mutiple helicopters in the traffic pattern

atcguruaf

Rico Suave
Jan 4, 2009
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Right here
We all know the helicopters won't hit on the runway. We all know that 200 feet is MORE than ample spacing. These are just standards that must be maintained otherwise in a courtroom the dreaded "what kind of positive separation were you using" comes into play. Visual separation is the caveat that just let's the helicopters play and do what they want - ultimately letting you get back to solitaire or minesweeper.

The question I have (since we're on the topic):

If you tell each helicopter to maintain visual separation, or to "maintain visual separation while in the pattern", or whatever, and the pilot doesn't tell you he/she has lost sight of the preceding aircraft, must you restate with each landing clearance to "maintain visual separation"?
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
988
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So an additional question about visual separation. Is Tower Visual Separation sufficient?

We've all been discussing having the pilots follow each other, or instructing them to maintain visual, but presumably the tower has had them all in sight this whole time.
 

blakeh

Trusted Member
Feb 8, 2009
406
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We all know the helicopters won't hit on the runway. We all know that 200 feet is MORE than ample spacing. These are just standards that must be maintained otherwise in a courtroom the dreaded "what kind of positive separation were you using" comes into play. Visual separation is the caveat that just let's the helicopters play and do what they want - ultimately letting you get back to solitaire or minesweeper.

The question I have (since we're on the topic):

If you tell each helicopter to maintain visual separation, or to "maintain visual separation while in the pattern", or whatever, and the pilot doesn't tell you he/she has lost sight of the preceding aircraft, must you restate with each landing clearance to "maintain visual separation"?
Doesn't specify the answer to this question anywhere in the 7110. Another damn "gray area".

However, I can only tell ya what I do. I just make sure the helicopter has traffic it's following in sight and, depending on the situation, I might tell the helicopter to stay behind the traffic and clear him each time and only if he is actually close enough to use it or I will just use the "Same runway separation".
 

blakeh

Trusted Member
Feb 8, 2009
406
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So an additional question about visual separation. Is Tower Visual Separation sufficient?

We've all been discussing having the pilots follow each other, or instructing them to maintain visual, but presumably the tower has had them all in sight this whole time.
IMO I don't think in this situation the tower can apply visual separation. IMO the book is referring to the pilot maintaining visual from the other a/c. However, the book doesn't exactly make it that clear.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
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Yes, the tower can provide the visual separation. No, you don't need to say "maintain visual separation" although you may need to in some cases. You should be working these aircraft by observing their positions and issuing instructions to keep them safe, which is pretty much your job description. Don't be a passenger in the tower, be an active participant. Restrictions may be needed but are not required. This procedure doesn't change at night. The pilot is not authorized to crash into an aircraft they are following, even at night. Successive landings to a runway is not the same as simultaneous landings to pads. So, forget the 200' rule, it won't help you unless they are not in a flight and landing side by side on the runway for some reason (pads on the runway).

Don't over think this... They gave us special rules for helicopters for good reason.
 
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blakeh

Trusted Member
Feb 8, 2009
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Yes, the tower can provide the visual separation. No, you don't need to say "maintain visual separation" although you may need to in some cases. You should be working these aircraft by observing their positions and issuing instructions to keep them safe, which is pretty much your job description. Don't be a passenger in the tower, be an active participant or leave and let the pilots do it on CTAF. Restrictions may be needed but are not required. This procedure doesn't change at night. The pilot is not authorized to crash into an aircraft they are following, even at night. Successive landings to a runway is not the same as simultaneous landings to pads. So, forget the 200' rule, it won't help you unless they are not in a flight and landing side by side on the runway for some reason (pads on the runway).

Don't over think this... They gave us special rules for helicopters for good reason.

I agree with most of this except for you CAN use the "200 foot rule" ANYWHERE 2 helicopters are landing.

and I don't know how I feel about about the tower visually separating helicopters following a a/c - I wouldn't use it. IMO helicopter needs visual on his traffic to follow and be on the runway at the same time.
 
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FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
988
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Successive landings to a runway is not the same as simultaneous landings to pads.
I agree it's not the same thing, but 3-11-5 doesn't say anything about "pads." It just says "landing or takeoff points."

I don't see why a "point" couldn't exist on an active runway.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
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Pads, points, don't really care. Look at the diagram. I'm not re-defining what's in the book. My point is an aircraft (or helo) following another aircraft (or helo) to the same runway is not a simultaneous operation it's successive, as in ordered and sequenced.

The 200' helicopter rule is for simultaneous operations, meaning at the same time to designated points within close proximity. Arriving to landing pads or directing them to specific points on the runway could be examples. Then yes, I would agree the 200' rule would be in play. For unmarked points on a runway, 200' is a very small distance to be judged from a tower. More than likely a larger distance would be used. For successive operations to a runway you don't need this even though the helos may be on or over the runway at the same time.

You can designate points to land if you want or need it. I'm just saying its not required when they are following each other to the runway and you comply with the visual requirements of the operation.
 
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JoshATC

Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
1,384
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ZLA CPC
3−11−4. HELICOPTER ARRIVAL SEPARATION
Separate an arriving helicopter from other helicopters
by ensuring that it does not land until one of the
following conditions exists:

a. A preceding, arriving helicopter has come to a
stop or taxied off the landing area.

b. A preceding, departing helicopter has left the
landing area.

3−11−5. SIMULTANEOUS LANDINGS OR TAKEOFFS

Authorize helicopters to conduct simultaneous
landings or takeoffs if the distance between the
landing or takeoff points is at least 200 feet and the
courses to be flown do not conflict. Refer to surface
markings to determine the 200 foot minimum, or
instruct a helicopter to remain at least 200 feet from
another helicopter.

Even the Picture in 3-11-5 uses the term Landing Area.

Now let's look at the PCG..

LANDING AREA− Any locality either on land,
water, or structures, including airports/heliports and
intermediate landing fields, which is used, or
intended to be used, for the landing and takeoff of
aircraft whether or not facilities are provided for the
shelter, servicing, or for receiving or discharging
passengers or cargo.


So I would say the RUNWAY is considered a LANDING AREA!
 

JoshATC

Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
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ZLA CPC
But I agree with WatchThis again.. This is SUCCESSIVE ARRIVALS not SIMULTANEOUS ARRIVALS. You are telling #2 Helo to follow #1 Helo. and #3 to follow #2 and so on ..

So 3-11-5 doesn't apply in this situation.
 

blakeh

Trusted Member
Feb 8, 2009
406
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Re: mutiple helicopters in the traffic patternq

Pads, points, don't really care. Look at the diagram. I'm not re-defining what's in the book. My point is an aircraft (or helo) following another aircraft (or helo) to the same runway is not a simultaneous operation it's successive, as in ordered and sequenced.

.
Wow! Is this how u use the 7110? I bet the pictures in ur 7110 are colored in, yea?
 

blakeh

Trusted Member
Feb 8, 2009
406
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But I agree with WatchThis again.. This is SUCCESSIVE ARRIVALS not SIMULTANEOUS ARRIVALS. You are telling #2 Helo to follow #1 Helo. and #3 to follow #2 and so on ..

So 3-11-5 doesn't apply in this situation.
I use it every day.
 

AustinPowers

Newcomer
Nov 28, 2012
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3-11-5. SIMULTANEOUS LANDINGS OR
TAKEOFFS​
Authorize helicopters to conduct simultaneous
landings or takeoffs if the distance between the
landing or takeoff points is at least 200 feet and the
courses to be flown do not conflict. Refer to surface
markings to determine the 200 foot minimum, or
instruct a helicopter to remain at least 200 feet from
another helicopter.

I think people are getting off track. Stick to the rule, it is a safe and simple rule. Make sure the courses to be flown do not conflict and instruct a helicopter to remain at least 200 feet from another helicopter. The job is only as eaqsy as you make it.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
557
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Re: mutiple helicopters in the traffic patternq

Wow! Is this how u use the 7110? I bet the pictures in ur 7110 are colored in, yea?
Very mature. You should re-read chapter 3 because you are skipping over some valuable information there regarding visual separation with helicopter arrival, same runway separation.

You also might be skipping over that I stated you can use distance if you want to, it's just not required in all cases to the same runway. A lot depends on how you work it.
 
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PatThompson

Newcomer
Nov 30, 2012
7
0
1
I'm not real sure if I understand what's going on here. Why would you run helicopters to a runway? The reason Igor invented the helicopter is because it can land and take off anywhere. Run them in an inside pattern and use an area other than the runway.

Helicopter pilots know the 200' rule. If you, as a controller, think that one lands 150' from another, what are you going to do? Go on break and run down there and spank him.

I promise. If he is instructed to follow another helicopter, he's NOT going to hit him.

You guys kill me.
 

nseatc

Newcomer
Oct 8, 2008
10
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FT Riley KS
Ok Im dizzy, the helicopter pattern in question here has pads as well as other sod areas, but helicopters here use the runway for roll on landings and fadac approaches, I tell the helicopters to land after taxiway D or between D and C, etc, I believe if the preceding helicopter has not come to a complete stop and or cleared the RWY and the succeding is over the numbers landing, then simultanious landing rules would be used. JUST ME
 

JoshATC

Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
1,384
7
38
ZLA CPC
Ok Im dizzy, the helicopter pattern in question here has pads as well as other sod areas, but helicopters here use the runway for roll on landings and fadac approaches, I tell the helicopters to land after taxiway D or between D and C, etc, I believe if the preceding helicopter has not come to a complete stop and or cleared the RWY and the succeding is over the numbers landing, then simultanious landing rules would be used. JUST ME
I think you are confused on what rule you are using.. If you are clearing multiple aircraft / helicopters to a runway you need to ensure you have your runways separation. I hate to do this but I'm busting out a dictionary on you.

Definition of SUCCESSIVE

1
: following in order : following each other without interruption

Definition of SIMULTANEOUS

1
: existing or occurring at the same time :

So once again if you have an aircraft / helo landing one right after another and they are NOT a flight to a SINGLE Runway it will be SUCCESSIVE and you must use your category separation spelled out.

3−10−3. SAME RUNWAY SEPARATION

a. Separate an arriving aircraft from another
aircraft using the same runway by ensuring that the
arriving aircraft does not cross the landing threshold
until one of the following conditions exists or unless
authorized in para 3−10−10, Altitude Restricted Low
Approach.

(a) Category I aircraft landing behind
Category I or II− 3,000 feet.

(b) Category II aircraft landing behind
Category I or II− 4,500 feet.

(c) When either is a category III aircraft−
6,000 feet. (See FIG 3−10−5.)

3. When the succeeding aircraft is a helicopter,
visual separation may be applied in lieu of using
distance minima.
 

JoshATC

Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
1,384
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38
ZLA CPC
Let me make it straight by saying you can use the 200ft or 1000ft or whatever you like that makes you feel comfortable to ensure positive control. But it's not 100% mandatory. If you sequence the aircraft, issue the traffic and instruct the pilot to maintain visual separation then your distance minimum is Don't Scrape Paint!
 

eltors0

The Grog Man
Jun 25, 2011
283
3
18
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OH
Let me make it straight by saying you can use the 200ft or 1000ft or whatever you like that makes you feel comfortable to ensure positive control. But it's not 100% mandatory. If you sequence the aircraft, issue the traffic and instruct the pilot to maintain visual separation then your distance minimum is Don't Scrape Paint!
You don't even need to instruct the helo to maintain the visual if you have both in sight.