Helicopter Operations resources

Helicopter Operations


Over-water flights


The pilot in command of the aircraft must not fly over water at a distance from land greater than the distance from which the aircraft could reach land if the engine, or, in the case of a multi-engine aircraft, the critical engine were inoperative (CAR 258).

Aircraft engaged in private, aerial work or charter operations, and which are normally prohibited by CAR 258 (the paragraph above) from over-water flights because of their inability to reach land in the event of engine failure, may fly over water subject to compliance with the conditions in the paragraphs below. These conditions are additional to the requirements for flight over land (AIP ENR 1.1).

In the case of helicopters, a fixed platform or a vessel suitable for an emergency landing may be considered acceptable for this requirement.

There is no limitation for private, aerial work or freight-only charter operations.

Each occupant of the aircraft must wear a life jacket during the flight over water unless exempted from doing so under the terms of CAO 20.11.

A meteorological forecast must be obtained.

SAR alerting AIP ENR 1.1

VFR flights are required to submit a SARTIME flight notification to ATS, or leave a flight note with a responsible person (AIP ENR 1.10).

VFR flights may choose to operate on reporting schedules for the over-water stages of a flight. Schedules may be arranged before commencing the over-water stage and terminate on completion of the crossing. Contact the Airservices Australia Help Desk (details below).

VFR aircraft not equipped with radio which will enable continuous communication, or not radio equipped, must carry a survival beacon (as prescribed in CAO 20.11), for the over-water stages of the flight.

Airservices Australia Help Desk

Telephone 1800 801 960

Flotation systems

Helicopters must be fitted with an approved flotation system unless exempted under the terms of CAO 20.11. The helicopter classes this requirement applies to include the following:

  • single-engine helicopter engaged in passenger carrying charter operations;
  • single-engine helicopter engaged in regular public transport operations
  • multi-engine helicopter engaged in passenger carrying charter or regular public transport operations.

Helicopters operating in accordance with the approval given must comply with VFR, except that in the case of helicopters operating below 700 ft above water by day, the flight visibility must not be less than 5000 m and the helicopter must be flown at a distance equal to or greater than 600 m horizontally and 500 ft vertically from cloud, unless track guidance is provided by an approved operating radio navigation aid and the helicopter is equipped with a complementary radio navigation system.

Life jackets

Each occupant of a helicopter operating to or from an off-shore landing site located on a fixed platform or vessel shall wear a life jacket during the entire flight over water regardless of the class of operation or the one-engine-inoperative performance capability of the helicopter.

Helicopter operations radio phraseology

Air taxi or air transit for departure
and arrival
TAXI) FROM (or VIA) TO (location or routing as
(b) Air taxi (or air transit or ground taxi) to (or via)
(location, parking position, stand, or routing as
appropriate) [caution (dust, loose debris, taxiing
light aircraft, personnel, wake turbulence, etc)]

For the full helicopter radio phraseology refer AIP GEN 3.4-69

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