SUPERYACHT’S MARINA HELIPORT – THE GOLDEN RULES FOR A MARINA THAT WANTS TO TAKE… FLIGHT!
By Stefano Notarantonio
In the previous article (First Part SUPERYACHT’S MARINA HELIPORT – THE GOLDEN RULES FOR A MARINA THAT WANTS TO TAKE… FLIGHT! ), we talked about the general aspects, regulations and characteristics of a heliport.
In this article, thank’s to Commander Stefano Sbardella (Aircraft Commander and Aircraft Consultant) we will talk about the heliports located inside a Marina: from the ideal location, to the heliport Manual, to the equipment and everything you need to know to evaluate the opportunity to build a heliport inside a SY Marina.
Commander Sbardella, what is the ideal location of the heliport / helipad inside the marina?
The position is dictated by the fulfilment of the requirements for the heliport and helipad in terms of its separation from obstacles, constructions, obstructions and in order to guarantee safe take-off and landing operations. In practice, the regulation prescribes minimum distances and heights to be respected for each obstacle and building around the landing pad, limitations and physical characteristics depending on the type of helicopter used and the flight operations to be conducted.
If the casual helipad does not need to meet the heliport requirements, its position must be such that, based on the operator’s judgement, the minimum safety requirements can be guaranteed in order not to cause potential damage to persons or property.
What is the heliport Manual and what does it consist of?
The heliport Manual contains the description of the organizational structure, the tasks and the persons in charge with the corresponding functions and describes how the heliport is operated in its various operating conditions, as well as containing the necessary operating procedures.
For non-casual heliports it is the responsibility of the Manager to verify and ensure that the surface maintenance conditions are adequate to guarantee the safety of flight operations.
Finally, as mentioned above, for casual helipads the responsibility lies solely with the pilot or the aircraft operator.
Operational management and the different flight cases?
For a heliport, the regulations are articulated because it requires a more complex administrative and managerial structure and a more complex organization and safety: whereas management is less demanding when using the heliport.
Moreover, the regulation presents differences in case of:
- commercial transport of passengers or not;
- complex or non-complex operations (determined by the type of helicopter used);
- flight to be performed in a hostile environment (a hostile environment is considered to be an environment in which a forced landing cannot be safely performed due to inadequate surface area, or the occupants of the helicopter cannot be adequately protected from weather conditions or the response time, as well as search and rescue capabilities are not consistently provided with advance preparation, or there is an unacceptable risk of damage to persons or property on the surface);
- long-term flight over sea or water;
- flight activity that has the characteristics of special approval (according to EASA SPA-HOFO regulations, such an activity starts and ends offshore or on naval units)
In any case (commercial or non-commercial transport) flight operations that demand over a certain flight time over water (10 minutes), require the helicopter to be equipped with special emergency equipment (buoys etc. etc.).
Flight operations ending on a vessel take the configuration of specialized operations and follow a separate regulation.
Does the Marina have to equip itself with specialists in the management of maneuvers?
In the case of a managed heliport and helipad (non-casual) absolutely yes, the Manager must appoint a Certification Manager, Accountable Manager, who has the authority and autonomy necessary to ensure that all activities are conducted in accordance with the rules. In order to ensure the safe execution of the heliport operations, the Manager shall appoint a Safety and Operations Manager, Post Holders, with appropriate skills and qualifications and appropriate line personnel for helicopter ground operations (signaling, movement, hangarage and communication).
The employment of specialists is highly recommended for any other type of structure in the case of casual and non-casual heliport and the qualifications are those provided by the Helicopter Landing Officer (HLO) or national regulations for the training of airport ground personnel in the maneuvering area.
Minimum weather conditions for landing and take-off authorization? Who evaluates them?
They are dictated by EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) regulations depending on the type of operation CAT, NCC, NCO, SPA (commercial air transport, non-commercial complex, non-commercial other, special authorization), but in any case, they remain the prerogative and responsibility of the operator depending on his certificate and operating manual, and in any case increasingly restrictive of the general aviation regulations for visual flight. If a heliport, for example, intends to perform operations in weather conditions more restrictive than those of visual or night flight, it will have to request appropriate approval from the aviation authority for the certification of equipment procedures depending on the certificate the operator has, the type of helicopter, the level of crew training and the characteristics and installations of the helicopter pad. In addition, for direct or off-shore operations or on SY, the weather, sea, platform and bridge limitations will also have to be considered. The assessment will be given to the ATS unit responsible for the heliport and to the helipad operator.
How do you refuel a stationary helicopter?
Refueling must be performed by trained personnel for aviation refueling. Typically, an air tanker is booked by an airport refueling manager for refueling together with the relevant fire service that must be insured. The regulations are also very precise and restrictive for fuel quality control.
What equipment should the Marina possess?
For the heliport, the usual regulations are specific.
For helipads, suitable lighting, ground electric power unit, chocks for wheeled helicopters, gust locks, ground tie/ropes, refueling system (reel or tanker), wind sleeve and weather detection system, firefighting, ambulance service for medical rescue, suitable radio system, (to name a few) are recommended.
Should there be a helicopter hangar in the Marina?
It is very important to have a helicopter hangar inside the Marina to protect the aircraft from weather conditions, thus ensuring a better maintenance life of the airframe, the rotor and engines and even in case of maintenance operations.
Any modern structure that intends to quickly attract SY’s clientele must think about setting up a heliport or helipad inside the Marina right from the design phase of the project, as well as if the already existing structures do not have such equipment, ample space has to be created to build one.
In addition to allowing the in-house management of these services, an area dedicated to the take-off and landing of helicopters located within the marina resolves yet another important and pressing issue for the Marina, that of the safety of guests who often wish to reach the boat in absolute privacy.
A casual helipad could be suitable for one of the following purposes, should the Marina intend to provide clients with a private helicopter for private transport to and from SY in daylight VFR conditions, with a boat moored at short distance with favorable sea weather conditions, for casual events in Italy.
If on the other hand, the Marina expects to have over 100 flights per year and intends to carry out commercial transport of passengers (through an operator with Air Operator Certificate), including those originating from foreign countries with more complex flight operations and more restrictive operating conditions, it will be essential to have a casual helipad or heliport if there is public interest (commercial transport of passengers or health care in an urban area).
In conclusion, it is our opinion that any SY Marina that wishes to undertake such an initiative must, upon identification of the organizational and operational structure (helipad or heliport) that best suits its customers and therefore how it is expected to be used, evaluate the operating costs (installation, insurance and management) and the expected revenues, determining the economic impact of such a service, particularly in terms of accelerating the presence of SY, crews, shipowners and therefore revenues on the financial statements of the Marina as a whole.
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