Helicopter approaches to VFR heliports are normally developed either as public procedures to a point-inspace (PinS) that may serve more than one heliport or as a Special procedure to a specific VFR heliport that requires pilot training due to its unique characteristics. These approaches can be developed using VOR or ADF, but RNAV using GPS is the most common system used today. In the future, RNAV using the wide area augmentation system (WAAS) offers the most advantages because it can provide lower approach minimums, narrower route widths to support a network of approaches, and may allow the heliport to be used as an alternate. A majority of the special procedures to a specific VFR heliport are developed in support of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operators and have a “Proceed Visually” segment between the MAP and the heliport. Public procedures are developed as a PinS approach with a “Proceed VFR” segment between the MAP and the landing area. These PinS “Proceed VFR” procedures specify a course and distance from the MAP to the available heliports in the area.

The note associated with these procedures is: “PROCEED VFR FROM (NAMED MAP) OR CONDUCT THE SPECIFIED MISSED APPROACH.” They may be developed as a special or public procedure where the MAP is located more than 2 SM from the landing site, the turn from the final approach to the visual segment is greater than 30 degrees, or the VFR segment

from the MAP to the landing site has obstructions that require pilot actions to avoid them. Figure 7-15 is an example of a public PinS approach that allows the pilot to fly to one of four heliports after reaching the MAP.

For Part 135 operations, pilots may not begin the instrument approach unless the latest weather report indicates that the weather conditions are at or above the authorized IFR or VFR minimums as required by the class of airspace, operating rule and/or OpsSpecs,

whichever is higher. Visual contact with the landing site is not required; however, prior to the MAP, for either Part 91 or 135 operators, the pilot must determine if the flight visibility meets the basic VFR minimums required by the class of airspace, operating rule and/or OpsSpecs (whichever is higher). The visibility is limited to no lower than that published in the procedure until canceling IFR. If VFR minimums do not exist, then the published missed approach procedure must be executed. The pilot must contact air traffic control upon reaching the MAP, or as soon as practical after that, and advise whether executing the missed approach or canceling IFR and proceeding VFR. Figure 7-16 provides examples of the procedures used during a PinS approach for Part 91 and Part 135 operations.

To proceed VFR in uncontrolled airspace, Part 135 operators are required to have at least 1/2 SM visibility and a 300-foot ceiling. Part 135 HEMS operators must have at least 1 SM day or 2 SM night visibility and a 500-foot ceiling provided the heliport is located within 3 NM of the MAP. These minimums apply regardless of whether the approach is located on the plains of Oklahoma or in the Colorado mountains. However, for heliports located farther than 3 NM from the heliport, Part 135 HEMS operators are held to an even higher standard and the minimums and lighting conditions contained in Figure 7-14 apply to the entire route. Mountainous terrain at night with low light conditions requires a ceiling of 1,000 feet and either 3 SM or 5 SM visibility depending on whether it has been determined as part of the operator’s local flying area.

In Class B, C, D, and E surface area airspace, a SVFR clearance may be obtained if SVFR minimums exist. On your flight plan, give ATC a heads up about your intentions by entering the following in the remarks section: “Request SVFR clearance after the MAP.”