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Old August 1st, 2011, 02:22 PM   #1
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VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Are they different for the rotor heads?

Had a uncomfortable situation the other day making an IFR departure. I had just lifted off and tower informs me of a helo off to my left that has me in sight and will remain clear then hands me off to departure. So, I'm watching this helo come pretty darn close to me as I am climbing out and he is right at my altitude and pretty bloody close as I enter the overcast layer (about 1200 overcast). This is in class D, and his rotor is definitely scraping the blottoms of the clouds.

Are the cloud clearance requirements different for helos, or was this guy pushing the limits? I wouldn't have called this a near miss, but it was definitely close enough to make me uncomfortable trying to make a single pilot instrument departure.
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Old August 1st, 2011, 02:24 PM   #2
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

How do you know if the helo was not on an active IFR flight plan?
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Old August 1st, 2011, 02:30 PM   #3
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottM View Post
How do you know if the helo was not on an active IFR flight plan?
Or SVFR
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Old August 1st, 2011, 02:51 PM   #4
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDG View Post
Or SVFR
I believe ATC may only allow one aircraft to be in the the controlled space when SVFR is granted:

http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publi...tml#ZF6370JGOG
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Old August 1st, 2011, 03:59 PM   #5
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

The laws of physics do not apply to whirly-birds
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Old August 1st, 2011, 04:00 PM   #6
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fearless Tower View Post
Are they different for the rotor heads?
Only in one very limited exception:
Quote:
(b) Class G Airspace. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section, the following operations may be conducted in Class G airspace below 1,200 feet above the surface:
(1) Helicopter. A helicopter may be operated clear of clouds if operated at a speed that allows the pilot adequate opportunity to see any air traffic or obstruction in time to avoid a collision.
(2) Airplane, powered parachute, or weight-shift-control aircraft.. If the visibility is less than 3 statute miles but not less than 1 statute mile during night hours and you are operating in an airport traffic pattern within one-half mile of the runway, you may operate an airplane, powered parachute, or weight-shift-control aircraft clear of clouds.
Quote:
Are the cloud clearance requirements different for helos,
Not in D-space.
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Old August 1st, 2011, 04:03 PM   #7
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Logajan View Post
I believe ATC may only allow one aircraft to be in the the controlled space when SVFR is granted:

http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publi...tml#ZF6370JGOG
I believe tower can have more than one aircraft in the D-space under SVFR if tower can keep them separated visually.
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Old August 1st, 2011, 08:12 PM   #8
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybird180 View Post
The laws of physics do not apply to whirly-birds
^This guy
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 07:44 PM   #9
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Levy View Post
Only in one very limited exception:


(b) Class G Airspace. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section, the following operations may be conducted in Class G airspace below 1,200 feet above the surface:
(1) Helicopter. A helicopter may be operated clear of clouds if operated at a speed that allows the pilot adequate opportunity to see any air traffic or obstruction in time to avoid a collision.
(2) Airplane, powered parachute, or weight-shift-control aircraft.. If the visibility is less than 3 statute miles but not less than 1 statute mile during night hours and you are operating in an airport traffic pattern within one-half mile of the runway, you may operate an airplane, powered parachute, or weight-shift-control aircraft clear of clouds.


Not in D-space.

While this isn't D-space, 91.157 provides exemptions for helicopters for some SVFR requirements:

Quote:
Originally Posted by FAR 91.157
Special VFR weather minimums.

(a) Except as provided in appendix D, section 3, of this part, special VFR operations may be conducted under the weather minimums and requirements of this section, instead of those contained in Sec. 91.155, below 10,000 feet MSL within the airspace contained by the upward extension of the lateral boundaries of the controlled airspace designated to the surface for an
airport.
(b) Special VFR operations may only be conducted--
(1) With an ATC clearance;
(2) Clear of clouds;
(3) Except for helicopters, when flight visibility is at least 1 statute mile; and
(4) Except for helicopters, between sunrise and sunset (or in Alaska, when the sun is 6 degrees or more below the horizon) unless--

(i) The person being granted the ATC clearance meets the applicable requirements for instrument flight under part 61 of this chapter; and
(ii) The aircraft is equipped as required in Sec. 91.205(d).
(c) No person may take off or land an aircraft (other than a helicopter) under special VFR--
(1) Unless ground visibility is at least 1 statute mile; or
(2) If ground visibility is not reported, unless flight visibility is at least 1 statute mile.
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Old August 4th, 2011, 12:09 PM   #10
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike I View Post
While this isn't D-space, 91.157 provides exemptions for helicopters for some SVFR requirements:
While that's true, he asked about VFR, not SVFR. In any event, the cloud clearance requirements are the same for everyone under SVFR -- remain clear of them. It's only the visibility requirements which vary under SVFR.
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Old August 4th, 2011, 12:27 PM   #11
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Ron, correct, I was just addressing JeffDG's comment that perhaps the helicopter was operating SVFR while the OP was IFR.
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Old August 4th, 2011, 12:35 PM   #12
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fearless Tower View Post
Are they different for the rotor heads?

Had a uncomfortable situation the other day making an IFR departure. I had just lifted off and tower informs me of a helo off to my left that has me in sight and will remain clear then hands me off to departure. So, I'm watching this helo come pretty darn close to me as I am climbing out and he is right at my altitude and pretty bloody close as I enter the overcast layer (about 1200 overcast). This is in class D, and his rotor is definitely scraping the blottoms of the clouds.

Are the cloud clearance requirements different for helos, or was this guy pushing the limits? I wouldn't have called this a near miss, but it was definitely close enough to make me uncomfortable trying to make a single pilot instrument departure.
Helicopters have the same VFR requirements as fixed wing aircraft in controlled airspace. Helicopters get a break in Class G airspace and under SVFR.
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Old August 4th, 2011, 12:39 PM   #13
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Re: VFR cloud clearance requirements for rotary wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Logajan View Post
I believe ATC may only allow one aircraft to be in the the controlled space when SVFR is granted:

http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publi...tml#ZF6370JGOG
There is no fixed limit on simultaneous SVFR operations in a surface area, the requirement is that all IFR and SVFR aircraft are separated.

The publication you referenced is for FSS, not ATC.
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Last edited by roncachamp; August 5th, 2011 at 08:51 AM.
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