Guidelines for heliports - design and operation - Draft Advisory Circular (AC) 139.R-01 v1.0

Closed 1 Jun 2022

Opened 4 May 2022

Feedback updated 27 Jun 2022

We asked

This consultation asked industry to provide feedback on the draft advisory circular (AC) on heliport design and operation. The issue of this AC, in concert with AC 91-29, replaces CAAP 92-2(2) and CAAP 92-4(0) and represents a comprehensive adoption of the international standards and recommended practices contained in Annex 14 Volume II. A heliport is a helicopter landing site (HLS) that is designed, constructed and operated in accordance with the specifications outlined in the AC. Heliports are typically dedicated helicopter operating areas supporting air transport operations, medical patient transport and offshore oil and gas operations.

The consultation has now closed, and a summary of the feedback is provided below.

You said

A total of 6 responses were received with 1 each from a heliport owner/operator, a certified aerodrome operator, and a planning authority as well as 3 heliport consultants/designers.

Of the respondents who made written submissions, 1 consented to having them made public and 5 requested their submissions be confidential.

Summary of feedback
In addition to some relatively minor editorial and typographical matters raised, the main actionable subjects that were identified included:

  • marking flexibility
  • safety device details for elevated heliports and helidecks
  • the location of specifications for means of escape
  • FATO and TLOF surface slopes
  • flight path alignment lighting.

There were some comments on important matters that could not be addressed within the scope of this AC development. They include:

  • Rotorwash guidance. The specifications provided in this AC go beyond the requirements in Annex 14 Volume II but further work is required to develop specification similar to Part 139 MOS. This work will be undertaken as part of future revision work.
  • Night vision imaging system (NVIS) accommodation. A note on NVIS appears below the heading for section 5.3 but numerous comments asked for more detail and consideration. This is an important issue that requires further analysis and consultation. It will be considered in future standards development.
  • Rescue and firefighting (RFF) standards. Numerous comments outlined a need for review of this section to provide more clarity on RFF specifications. This too requires further analysis and will be considered in future standards development.
  • Inspections and reporting. Similar to the issues noted above, this topic requires detailed consideration and will be included in the scope of work for future revisions of this AC and any associated standards development.
  • Helicopter facilities at certified aerodromes. Any amendment to Part 139 MOS was beyond the scope of this project but future revisions to the MOS may include additions to align with this AC.
  • Definitions. The definitions contained in this document need to align with existing definitions in the regulations (such as rotorcraft) while giving effect to the specifications based on Annex 14 Volume II.
  • Document structure. The document's structure aligns closely with Annex 14 Volume II as it was considered the most appropriate at this stage of development. Further revisions and development will look to consolidate some specifications as appropriate.

Also, there was a comment regarding need for this document, and another, to address the potential lack of adoption by industry of the specifications. While these comments are noted, it is necessary for CASA to incorporate these specifications within our regulatory suite to give it effect within Australia. As they remain guidance, different sectors and industry bodies that have developed and/or adopted different specification (including more prescriptive models) are able to consider these specifications within their broader environment and with respect to their risk appetite.

We did

All comments were appreciated and, as result of the feedback, the AC is a better document. Each comment was reviewed and, where feasible, incorporated into the AC.

With respect to the 5 areas of comments the following summarises changes with the AC:

  • some diagrams were amended to show different options for markings
  • references to the relevant sections on safety devices contained in ICAO's Heliport Manual (Doc 9261) were added to the identified specifications
  • cross-references to section 6.8 (means of escape) were added to the relevant sections in Chapter 3
  • minor amendment to slope clauses sought to address modern construction techniques
  • adoption of the wording in the Heliport Manual with respect to the colour of flight part alignment guidance lighting system lights.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

This advisory circular (AC) will provide guidance and information on physical and operational standards for heliports. Heliports are not regulated, so the intent of this AC is to provide some foundational specifications to help Helicopter Landing Site (HLS) owners and operators design, construct, maintain and operate their facilities in line with international standards and recommended practices.

Draft AC 139.R-01 v1.0 replaces Civil Aviation Advisory Publications (CAAP) 92-2(2) and 92-4(0) with respect to guidance for HLS owners and operators. Guidance to helicopter pilots on operating to and from HLSs has been published in AC 91-29 v1.0 - Guidelines for helicopters - suitable places to take off and land.

In this draft AC, heliport owners and operators are provided with guidance on:

  • heliport site selection
  • physical characteristics
  • obstacle control
  • visual aids
  • emergency response facilities
  • aeronautical data.

This AC will be of interest to:

  • persons involved in the design, construction, and operation of heliports
  • proponents of heliports
  • helicopter owners/operators
  • planning authorities
  • aerodrome operators
  • the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

Why your views matter

CASA recognises the valuable contribution that community and industry consultation makes to the regulatory development process.

This draft AC represents a significant step towards alignment of Australia’s heliport specifications with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) heliport standards and recommended practices (contained in Annex 14 Volume II).

While Annex 14 alignment was a stated goal of the Part 139 post-implementation review project, consultation on specific provisions is essential to ensuring that this guidance material is adequate, suitable and fit for purpose.

Community and industry members are invited to review the document and consider the impact, positive and negative, on existing and future operations at Australian heliports and HLS, including onshore and offshore facilities. Feedback should be provided through the online survey below.

Note: The MS Word document is not to be used as an emailed submission, unless there are extenuating circumstances, and this form of submission has been agreed to by the consultation project lead.

What happens next

At the end of the response period for public comment, we will review each comment and submission received. We will make all submissions publicly available on our website, unless you request your submission remain confidential. We will also publish a Summary of Consultation which summarises the feedback received and outlines our plans for the AC.

Audiences

  • CASA Staff
  • Air operator
  • Pilot
  • Certified aerodrome owner/operator
  • Unregulated aerodrome owner/operator
  • Aerodrome owner/operators
  • CASA aerodrome inspector
  • Aerodrome industry consultant
  • Air transport operations – rotorcraft (Part 133)

Interests

  • Airspace and infrastructure