Pilots flying Copter GPS or WAAS SIAPs must limit the speed to 90 KIAS on the initial and intermediate segment of the approach, and to no more than 70 KIAS on the final and missed approach segments. If annotated, holding may also be limited to 90 KIAS to contain the helicopter within the small airspace provided for helicopter holding patterns. During testing for helicopter holding, the optimum airspeed and leg length combination was determined to be 90 KIAS with a 3 NM outbound leg length. Consideration was given to the wind drift on the dead reckoning entry leg at slower speeds, the turn radius at faster airspeeds, and the ability of the helicopter in strong wind conditions to intercept the inbound course prior to the holding fix. The published minimums are to be used with no visibility reductions allowed. Figure 7-12 on page 7-13 is an example of a Copter GPS PinS approach that allows the helicopter to fly VFR from the MAP to the heliport.

The final and missed approach protected airspace providing obstacle and terrain avoidance is based on 70 KIAS, with a maximum 10-knot tailwind component. It is absolutely essential that pilots adhere to the 70 KIAS limitation in procedures that include an immediate climbing and turning missed approach. Exceeding the airspeed restriction increases the turning radius significantly, and can cause the helicopter to leave the missed approach protected airspace. This may result in controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) or obstacles.

If a helicopter has a VMINI greater than 70 knots, then it will not be capable of conducting this type of approach. Similarly, if the autopilot in “go-around” mode climbs at a VYI greater than 70 knots, then that mode cannot be used. It is the responsibility of the pilot to determine compliance with missed approach climb gradient requirements when operating at speeds other than VY or VYI. Missed approaches that specify an “IMMEDIATE CLIMBING TURN” have no provision for a straight ahead climbing segment before turning. A straight segment will result in exceeding the protected airspace limits.

Protected obstacle clearance areas and surfaces for the missed approach are established on the assumption that the missed approach is initiated at the DA point and for nonprecision approaches no lower than the MDA at the MAP (normally at the threshold of the approach end of the runway). The pilot must begin the missed approach at those points! Flying beyond either point before beginning the missed approach will result in flying below the protected OCS and can result in a collision with an obstacle.

The missed approach segment TERPS criteria for all Copter approaches take advantage of the helicopter’s climb capabilities at slow airspeeds, resulting in high climb gradients. [Figure 7-13 on page 7-14] The OCS used to evaluate the missed approach is a 20:1 inclined plane. This surface is twice as steep for the helicopter as the OCS used to evaluate the airplane missed approach segment. The helicopter climb gradient is therefore required to be double that of the airplane’s required missed approach climb gradient.

A minimum climb gradient of at least 400 feet per NM is required unless a higher gradient is published on the approach chart; e.g., a helicopter with a ground speed of 70 knots is required to climb at a rate of 467 feet per minute (FPM)2. The advantage of using the 20:1 OCS for the helicopter missed approach segment instead of the 40:1 OCS used for the airplane is that obstacles that penetrate the 40:1 missed approach segment may not have to be considered. The result is the DA/MDA may be lower for helicopters than for other aircraft. The minimum required climb gradient of 400 feet per NM for the helicopter in a missed approach will provide 96 feet of required obstacle clearance (ROC) for each NM of flight path.

2467 FPM = 70 KIAS x 400 feet per NM/60 seconds