TPM Review – Helicopter Operations

  • Home 2020 TPM Review – Helicopter Oper....

TPM Review – Helicopter Operations

59TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Singapore, 30 March – 3 April 2020

WP No. 85

TPM Review – Helicopter Operations

Presented by TOC

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The IFATCA Annual Conference 2020 in Singapore was cancelled. The present working paper was never discussed at Conference by the committee(s). Resolutions presented by this working paper (if any) were never voted.

Summary

The Helicopter Operations section of the Technical and Professional Manual (TPM) contains policies that are still relevant, but may be better subsumed under more appropriate sections of the manual.

Introduction

1.1.  The Helicopter Operations section of the TPM consists of four policies. These policies are still relevant, but are in need of editorial changes.

1.2.  The policies cover Operations, Radio Telephony (RTF) Phraseology, and Flight Plan identifiers.

1.3.  The overarching intent from these policies can be interpreted as ensuring controllers are made aware, through discrete means, that they are dealing with helicopters in their respective environments.

1.4.  In Appendix 1 of this working paper, an overview table with all the changes and the rationale is found for quick referencing.

Discussion

2.1. Operations

2.1.1. IFATCA TPM existing policies under HELI 5.1 regarding Helicopter Operations are as follows:

Procedures should be developed in order to integrate fixed and rotary-winged operations at airfields. In developing these procedures cognisance should be taken of the unique operating characteristics of the helicopter. To accommodate such operations local procedures should be developed to permit:

a) the development of discrete helicopter departure and arrival routes;

b) shorter instrument or radar approach patterns;

c) approaches to subsidiary runways followed by a suitable visual manoeuvre for landing on a separate heli-runway or helipad;

d) reduced horizontal separation on radar approaches between helicopters following fixed-wing aircraft, subject to proper authorisation and wake turbulence;

e) landing and take-off at intersections of runways, subject to wake vortex considerations.

IFATCA would encourage the development of separate helicopter facilities on existing airfields where considered beneficial and would also approve the integration of rotary- wing and fixed- wing operations at such airfields.

 

2.1.2.  The last review of this policy was conducted in Cancun 2002 (WP 84), with the original Working Paper approved in Athens 1985 (WP 53).

2.1.3.  WP 84 of Cancun 2002 acknowledged that IFATCA policy and ICAO procedures regarding Helicopter Operations are compatible in some areas, such as taking into account the very different flying characteristics of helicopters and fixed wing types.

2.1.4.  Since the original working paper in Athens 1985, there has been additional Helicopter-specific guidance material in ICAO DOC 8168 – Aircraft Operations, in particular Volume 1, Section 7 – Procedures for use by Helicopters.

2.1.5.  However, similar to the findings from WP84 of Cancun 2002, there continues to be a lack of guidance in ICAO material on the integration of rotary and fixed-wing traffic in the aerodrome environment.


2.2. Helicopter RTF Phraseology

2.2.1. IFATCA TPM existing policies under HELI 5.2 regarding helicopter RTF Phraseology are as follows:

The phraseology ‘Cleared for take-off/landing’ is not appropriate for use with helicopters operating directly to or from the apron area, as it is currently defined by ICAO. Alternative phraseology should be developed which reflects the limit of ATC responsibility when dealing with such operations.

and

Helicopter pilots should use the RTF callsign prefix ‘HELICOPTER’ on first contact with an ATSU, except when it is obvious from the callsign that the aircraft is a helicopter.

 

2.2.2. Take-Off / Landing Clearances from Apron

2.2.2.1.  In the original working paper from Cairo 1981 (WP29), ICAO Annexes 2 and 14 were cited as defining the Manoeuvring Area as:

“That part of an aerodrome to be used for the take-off, landing and taxiing of aircraft, excluding aprons.”

It also highlighted the issue pertaining to the fact that helicopters often operate from areas other than the active runway and that the use of the phraseology “cleared for take-off/landing” is not appropriate to the operation of helicopters directly from/to the apron.

2.2.2.2.  A subsequent working paper from Split 1983 (WP 49) pointed out that as per the abovementioned definition, the apron area is not intended to be used for the take- off and landing of aircraft, and ATC jurisdiction does not extend to the apron area. As such, ATC has no prerogative to decide whether helicopter take-off and/or landing from the apron are operationally safe manoeuvres either in general or in specific instances. Safety of such operations would depend on many factors over which ATC has little control, in particular the lookout maintained by both helicopter crew and personnel employed on the apron.

2.2.2.3.  In the most recent working paper on this topic from Kaohsiung 2006 (WP 94), it was revealed that the ICAO Heliops Panel and RTF Study Group in 1980 concluded that no special phraseologies were required to cover helicopter landing, take-off or ground manoeuvring.

2.2.2.4.  Apart from the preceding paragraphs, there is still little other information or guidance material available within ICAO Documentation. WP94 from Kaohsiung 2006 highlighted the instance of operations in the certain United Kingdom aerodromes, controllers use the phraseology “LAND/TAKE-OFF AT YOUR DISCRETION” helicopters operate out of areas other than the manoeuvring area and areas out of sight from the Tower. These are not obligatory, but used at the discretion of the controller.

2.2.2.5.  Given that the definition of Manoeuvring Area has not changed, ATC jurisdiction of Apron areas remains limited. Coupled with the lack of detailed guidance material on helicopter operations pertaining to ATC service provision, current IFATCA Policy on the issue continues to be relevant.

2.2.3.  “Helicopter” RTF Callsign Prefix

2.2.3.1.  The rationale for this policy can be derived from WP29 from Cairo 1981. In the paper, there were reported difficulties of recognising a helicopter from an RTF call, particularly if the registration is used rather than a company trip number. Any misunderstanding by the controller of the aircraft he/she is controlling can have serious consequences. This is amplified in the Aerodrome/Approach environment, where the difference in operating capabilities may lead to a loss of separation or incorrect clearances.

2.2.3.2.  While some ATSUs have already adopted the practice of adding the “Helicopter” prefix to initial RTF calls, there is no requirement in ICAO documentation to do so.

2.2.3.3.  IFATCA Policy on this issue is therefore still relevant.


2.3.  Helicopters: Discrete Identification in Flight Plans

2.3.1.  IFATCA TPM existing policy HELI 5.3 regarding helicopter identification in flight plans from 1984 is as follows:

Procedures should be developed for Flight Plan data to provide a clear differentiation between fixed-wing and helicopter flights.

 

2.3.2.  The original working paper from Estoril 1984 (WP 79) had recommendations for Aircraft Registration and Aircraft Type Designators in the ICAO Standard Flight Plan.

2.3.3.  Aircraft Identification or Registration

2.3.3.1.  Currently, Aircraft Identification filled in Item 7 of the ICAO Standard Flight Plan is filled with the ICAO designator for the aircraft operating agency followed by the flight identification (e.g. KLM511, NGA213, JTR25), or the nationality or common mark and registration mark of the aircraft (e.g. EIAKO, 4XBCD, N2567GA).

2.3.3.2.  The nationality or common mark and registration mark of the aircraft, if different from the aircraft identification in Item 7, will be inserted in Item 18 and prefixed with “REG/”.

2.3.3.3.  In the 1984 working paper, it was recommended to develop an internationally agreed system for self-evident registration markings of helicopters for use as aircraft identification. In some countries in Europe a system of this type is already in use nationally e.g.

Sweden: SE-HAB

Germany: D-HABC

2.3.3.4.  It is not clear if all states have adopted similar practices in their aircraft registration conventions, but this system would be useful in helping controllers identify helicopters from their Registration marks regardless of their knowledge of helicopter types.

2.3.4.  Aircraft Type Designators

2.3.4.1.  Currently, Item 9 in the ICAO Flight Plan specifies Aircraft Type Designators listed in ICAO Doc 8643.

2.3.4.2.  Operators are only able to specify in Item 18 only if “ZZZZ” is inserted in Item 9 when AC designator not available, or formation flights consisting of different aircraft types, e.g. TYP/ 2EC20 4B206.

2.3.4.3.  As flight strips typically only present these designators and the corresponding wake turbulence category (WTC), controllers would have to be familiar with helicopter designators to effectively differentiate between fixed & rotary wing aircraft.

2.3.4.4.  In the working paper from 1984, it was recommended that a new additional Helicopter category character “R” be created for insertion in item 9 of the ICAO Standard Flight Plan for rotary wing aircraft in lieu of the Wake Turbulence category character.

2.3.4.5.  In the latest edition of ICAO DOC 4444, Sixteenth Edition 2016, there are only three wake turbulence categories:

2.3.4.6.  As helicopters vary in size, and have corresponding Wake Turbulence Categories based on existing parameters, it would not be practicable to classify all helicopters under “R”. This suggestion in the 1984 working paper should be read with the intent of the resulting policy in mind.

Conclusions

3.1. Helicopter Operations

3.1.1.  While more helicopter-specific guidance in ICAO material have been produced, there still lacks definitive guidance on integrating rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft in an aerodrome environment, where aircraft performance varies greatly compared to helicopters.

3.1.2.  IFATCA Policy can serve as a reminder to continuously asses separation standards and procedures implemented at ATSU which face such traffic situations.

3.2. Helicopter RTF Phraseology

3.2.1.  The definition of Manoeuvring Area has remained the same, and ATC safety jurisdiction over Apron Areas remain limited in most ATSUs.

3.2.2.  IFATCA Policy on RTF Phraseology for helicopters reminds controllers to assess if discrete RTF would facilitate the safe, efficient and effective provision of Air Traffic Services at their respective ATSUs.

3.3. Aircraft Identifiers

3.3.1.  While some suggestions made in the 1984 Working Paper are probably not practicable, the intent of the paper and the resulting policy is still relevant.

3.3.2.  IFATCA Policy on having discrete identification for helicopters in flight plans will therefore help improve situational awareness for controllers, regardless of the extent of their knowledge on helicopter types.

3.4.  The editorial changes above are also detailed in Appendix 1 of this paper.

Recommendations

4.1. It is recommended that:

Existing IFATCA policy on Helicopter Operations in TPM HELI 5.1:

Procedures should be developed in order to integrate fixed and rotary-winged operations at airfields. In developing these procedures cognisance should be taken of the unique operating characteristics of the helicopter. To accommodate such operations local procedures should be developed to permit:

a) the development of discrete helicopter departure and arrival routes;

b) shorter instrument or radar approach patterns;

c) approaches to subsidiary runways followed by a suitable visual manoeuvre for landing on a separate heli-runway or helipad;

d) reduced horizontal separation on radar approaches between helicopters following fixed-wing aircraft, subject to proper authorisation and wake turbulence;

e) landing and take-off at intersections of runways, subject to wake vortex considerations.

IFATCA would encourage the development of separate helicopter facilities on existing airfields where considered beneficial and would also approve the integration of rotary- wing and fixed- wing operations at such airfields.

is amended to read:

Procedures should be developed in order to integrate fixed and rotary-winged operations at airfields. In developing these procedures cognisance should be taken of the unique operating characteristics of the helicopter. To accommodate such operations local procedures should be developed to permit:

a) the development of discrete helicopter departure and arrival routes;

b) shorter instrument or radar approach patterns;

c) approaches to subsidiary runways followed by a suitable visual manoeuvre for landing on a separate heli-runway or helipad;

d) reduced horizontal separation on radar approaches between helicopters following fixed-wing aircraft, subject to proper authorisation and wake turbulence;

e) landing and take-off at intersections of runways, subject to wake vortex considerations.

IFATCA encourages the development of separate helicopter facilities on existing airfields where considered beneficial and the integration of rotary- wing and fixed- wing operations at such airfields.

and moved from HELI 5.1 to the ATS Section of the TPM.

4.2. It is recommended that:

Existing IFATCA policy on Helicopter RTF Phraseology in TPM HELI 5.2:

The phraseology ‘Cleared for take-off/landing’ is not appropriate for use with helicopters operating directly to or from the apron area, as it is currently defined by ICAO. Alternative phraseology should be developed which reflects the limit of ATC responsibility when dealing with such operations.

and

Helicopter pilots should use the RTF callsign prefix ‘HELICOPTER’ on first contact with an ATSU, except when it is obvious from the callsign that the aircraft is a helicopter.

is retained, and moved from HELI 5.2 to the ATS Section of the TPM.

4.3. It is recommended that:

Existing IFATCA policy on Helicopters: Discrete Identification In Flight Plans in TPM HELI 5.3:

Procedures should be developed for Flight Plan data to provide a clear differentiation between fixed-wing and helicopter flights.

is retained, and moved from HELI 5.3 to the ATS Section of the TPM.

Appendix 1

Included in the following table is the policy, and if pertinent the introductions, up for review within this paper. Line through denotes deletion. Grey background denotes added text. Italicized indicates moved to a new section of the TPM.

HELI Policy Rationale
5.1 IFTACA Policy is:

Procedures should be developed in order to integrate fixed and rotary-winged operations at airfields. In developing these procedures cognisance should be taken of the unique operating characteristics of the helicopter. To accommodate such operations local procedures should be developed to permit:

a) the development of discrete helicopter departure and arrival routes;

b) shorter instrument or radar approach patterns;

c) approaches to subsidiary runways followed by a suitable visual manoeuvre for landing on a separate heli-runway or helipad;

d) reduced horizontal separation on radar approaches between helicopters following fixed-wing aircraft, subject to proper authorisation and wake turbulence;

e) landing and take-off at intersections of runways, subject to wake vortex considerations.

IFATCA would encourages the development of separate helicopter facilities on existing airfields where considered beneficial and would also approve the integration of rotary- wing and fixed- wing operations at such airfields.

Lacking in definitive ICAO guidance on integrating rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft in an aerodrome environment, where aircraft performance varies greatly compared to helicopters.

Grammatical and editorial changes.

Recommended to be moved to the ATS Section of the TPM.

5.2 It is often normal practice on airfields for helicopters to take off and land from parts of the apron area. However, these areas, not being part of the manoeuvring area, are not under the control of ATC and there may be traffic to affect affecting the take-off or landing.

IFATCA Policy is:

The phraseology ‘Cleared for take-off/landing’ is not appropriate for use with helicopters operating directly to or from the apron area, as it is currently defined by ICAO. Alternative phraseology should be developed which reflects the limit of ATC responsibility when dealing with such operations.

It is essential that controllers know whether they are dealing with helicopters or fixed wing aircraft. To ensure that no confusion can arise:

IFATCA policy is:

Helicopter pilots should use the RTF callsign prefix ‘HELICOPTER’ on first contact with an ATSU, except when it is obvious from the callsign that the aircraft is a helicopter.

The definition of Manoeuvring Area has remained the same, and ATC safety jurisdiction over Apron Areas remain limited in most ATSUs.

Usage of discrete RTF Phraseology would help the situational awareness of controllers in providing safe separation between aircraft.

Grammatical and editorial changes.

Recommended to be moved to the ATS Section of the TPM.

5.3 There is no provision on the present flight plan form to differentiate a helicopter from a fixed wing aircraft unless the type designator gives the information. To prevent uncertainty,:

IFATCA Policy is:

Procedures should be developed for Flight Plan data to provide a clear differentiation between fixed-wing and helicopter flights.

Discrete identification for helicopters in flight plans helps improve situational awareness for controllers.

Grammatical and editorial changes.

Recommended to be moved to the ATS Section of the TPM.

 

Last Update: October 2, 2020  

July 19, 2020   85   Jean-Francois Lepage    2020    

Comments are closed.


  • Search Knowledgebase