FAA Rotorcraft Gyroplane vs Helicopter Regulations

magknight

Member
Folks, does anyone have a side by side comparison / breakdown of FAA Rotorcraft rules and regulations relating to helicopters vs gyroplanes?

There are several regs that are rotorcraft generic and would apply to both, but some call out helicopters specifically. I was thinking of compiling one, but would rather not if it already exists.

Thanks!
Jason
 

WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
I don't think I've ever seen one, but it would be useful. I would look first at weather minimums and minimum altitudes.
 

magknight

Member
I would look first at weather minimums and minimum altitudes.
Yep! That's what got me initially interested. I know there are other areas as well, but didn't want to re-invent it if it's out there. Looks like I have some FAR/AIM bedtime reading coming my way.
 

chrisk

Gyroplane CFI
Here is the big one. Unfortunately section "d" does not include gyros.

§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.

Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

(a)Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

(b)Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.

(c)Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

(d)Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface -

(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and

(2) A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section.
 

Fly Army

Member
Seems to me to be more of an omission by error than by purpose. I think they just forgot to include Gyroplanes.
 

WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
Seems to me to be more of an omission by error than by purpose. I think they just forgot to include Gyroplanes.
No. They explicitly denied a petition to include them (I was one of the petitioners). The FAA also had some very rude things to say about the perceived quality of gyroplane pilots and their craft in the denial.
 

PW_Plack

Active Member
Seems to me to be more of an omission by error than by purpose. I think they just forgot to include Gyroplanes.
Helicopters get a pass because many of their missions, in fact their whole reason for existence, is takeoff and landing in confined areas. No such need for gyroplane operations in close proximity to people on the ground.
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Jason,

If you do compile a comparison you might want to also look at the advisory circulars. There is one in particular that recommends helis do opposite patterns (generally right hand)- my recollection is that it also does not mention gyros- I personally feel gyros flying a slower and closer in pattern could benefit from the heli advice.
 

WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
Jason,

If you do compile a comparison you might want to also look at the advisory circulars. There is one in particular that recommends helis do opposite patterns (generally right hand)- my recollection is that it also does not mention gyros- I personally feel gyros flying a slower and closer in pattern could benefit from the heli advice.
See AC90-66A, paragraph 9.a)
 

WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
Here's the pertinent text:

9. OTHER TRAFFIC PATTERNS.
Airport operators routinely establish local procedures for the operation of gliders, parachutists, lighter than air aircraft, helicopters, and ultralight vehicles. Appendices 2 and 3 illustrate these operations as they relate to recommended standard traffic patterns.
a. Rotorcraft.
(1) In the case of a helicopter approaching to land, the pilot must avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft and land on a marked helipad or suitable clear area. Pilots should be aware that at some airports, the only suitable landing area is the runway.
(2). All pilots should be aware that rotorcraft may fly slower and approach at steeper angles than airplanes. Air taxi is the preferred method for helicopter ground movements which enables the pilot to proceed at an optimum airspeed, minimize downwash effect, and conserve fuel. However, flight over aircraft, vehicles, and personnel should be avoided.
(3) In the case of a gyrocopter approaching to land, the pilot should avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft until turning final for the active runway.
(4) A helicopter operating in the traffic pattern may fly a pattern similar to the airplane pattern at a lower altitude (500 AGL) and closer to the airport. This pattern may be on the opposite side of the runway with turns in the opposite direction if local policy permits.
(5) Both classes of rotorcraft can be expected to practice. power-off landing (autorotation) which will involve -a very steep angle of approach and high rate of descent (1,500-2,000 feet/minute).
 

WHUBBS

Member
In a strong x wind is it legal for a gyro to approach down active runway, turn into the headwind and set down on taxi way. Next is it legal for a gyro to land into headwind on a large ramp without any aircraft , vehicle, or people on the ramp.
 
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WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
At a tower controlled airport, if they clear you to land on the runway, you can land at any angle to the pavement you wish. If you aim at a taxiway intersection, it will give you a touch more length and get you off faster, and that's a good thing. It's often a very wise practice to turn into the wind, thus eliminating any crosswind component, and making a very, very short roll (if any) now that you're pointed straight into the wind. At an uncontrolled field it's also legal, but one would be wise to mention your intentions on the radio so that you don't surprise the fixed wing crowd who may not expect that behavior.

At a tower controlled field, if you ask them for a ramp, they will often approve it, sometimes with the warning, "Caution, non-movement area, proceed at own risk". At an uncontrolled field, it's again usually not a problem unless you anger the local manager, so at a place where you will operate often, a brief chat about operational matters can help avoid misunderstandings.
 

WHUBBS

Member
Anytime an aircraft lands into the wind if possible it is in my opinion safer for the pilot, passengers and craft, Just asking, how or why would any airport manager disagree with a pilot trying to be safer. In my life and flying career many airport managers have no flying experience, at all and they learn airport management on the job. The city needs help and they hire someone. Some managers are pilots with experience.
 

WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
No argument there! Many managers are stuck in an airplane mindset, and need a bit of gentle education to tell them about what is and isn't safe in a rotorcraft, to broaden their knowledge base.

I had a county manager once who couldn't understand my request to take off and land my helicopter from the ramp space in front of my hangar (the tower didn't mind but he did). He kept saying that a long taxi in front of parked airplanes from there to get to the runway would kick up debris and cause damage. I never got him to understand that I wasn't going to taxi at all, wouldn't go near the runway, but take-off directly from that spot. He just couldn't picture it. I moved my base to a different airport.
 

WHUBBS

Member
I have lived next to my Airport for 33 years and during that time we have had many managers and at times no managers, most managers in the past were mechanics, as they leased our one maintenance hangar, paid the city insurance and utilities but paid no monthly rent, and that made them manager. They did nothing for the airport except trying to make a living for themselves and all have failed even though they paid no monthly rent. Today we have a manager paid by the city with many improvements to our nice little facility. We have no problems at this time with our facility as the managers is a pilot and owns a 172.
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Here's the pertinent text:

9. OTHER TRAFFIC PATTERNS.
Airport operators routinely establish local procedures for the operation of gliders, parachutists, lighter than air aircraft, helicopters, and ultralight vehicles. Appendices 2 and 3 illustrate these operations as they relate to recommended standard traffic patterns.
a. Rotorcraft.
(1) In the case of a helicopter approaching to land, the pilot must avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft and land on a marked helipad or suitable clear area. Pilots should be aware that at some airports, the only suitable landing area is the runway.
(2). All pilots should be aware that rotorcraft may fly slower and approach at steeper angles than airplanes. Air taxi is the preferred method for helicopter ground movements which enables the pilot to proceed at an optimum airspeed, minimize downwash effect, and conserve fuel. However, flight over aircraft, vehicles, and personnel should be avoided.
(3) In the case of a gyrocopter approaching to land, the pilot should avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft until turning final for the active runway.
(4) A helicopter operating in the traffic pattern may fly a pattern similar to the airplane pattern at a lower altitude (500 AGL) and closer to the airport. This pattern may be on the opposite side of the runway with turns in the opposite direction if local policy permits.
(5) Both classes of rotorcraft can be expected to practice. power-off landing (autorotation) which will involve -a very steep angle of approach and high rate of descent (1,500-2,000 feet/minute).
JR I've always found this more confusing than helpful for gyros- we "should avoid the flow of FW aircraft until turning final" - does this mean we can or should do what it advises specifically helis to do in 9.a.4 ie closer in and same or opposite direction traffic? lower AGL left traffic? is it specific approval to fly opposite direction traffic?
Other than airports that have comments in the AF/D to specifically avoid certain direction traffic for noise avoidance or to avoid flying over housing how would you know what "local policy" is?
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
I find it confusing too Rob.

I find it confusing too Rob.

JR I've always found this more confusing than helpful for gyros- we "should avoid the flow of FW aircraft until turning final" - does this mean we can or should do what it advises specifically helis to do in 9.a.4 ie closer in and same or opposite direction traffic? lower AGL left traffic? is it specific approval to fly opposite direction traffic?
Other than airports that have comments in the AF/D to specifically avoid certain direction traffic for noise avoidance or to avoid flying over housing how would you know what "local policy" is?
Notes from the Chart Supplement (used to be call airport facilities directory) for Spanish Fork, Utah (U77).
A30A-30 ROTARY WING ACFT ARRIVING RWY 30 MUST CTC ARPT PIOR TO ARRIVAL FOR TFC PATTERN INFORMATION.

The information would be; Rotary Wing Aircraft should stay on the east side of the runway, right traffic for runway 30 and left traffic for runway 12.

In my experience this does not work well for runway 12 because the fixed wing pilots often fly left traffic for runway 12.

Santa Maria (SMX) has a rotorcraft pattern altitude but it is not published anywhere (800 feet msl). I fly a close short pattern and when we hired a new controller at SMX he told my client to fly a more standard pattern for noise abatement (no turns below 800 feet) Since no part of my pattern is over any part of the city or buildings this did not seem reasonable to me. I have not yet addressed this. I suspect a call to the tower manager will get things straightened out. I have tried to meet with the specific controller but my timing has been off.

As part of my flight planning I contact the manager for each of the airports along my route to see if there are special procedures for rotorcraft.
 
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