Hospital Helipads

Helipad Location

The location of the helipad in relationship to the hospital is critical to safe & effective operations.At least two unobstructed flight paths into and out of the designated landing area are critical to safe operations.Do not locate the landing area too close to the hospital or other  structures.

Do not locate a helipad too far from the hospital. Long walking distances or distances requiring ambulance transport can negatively affect patient outcomes.

Do not allow a landing areato be surrounded by buildings, power lines, trees or parking garages.

Dependent on urban environment or future construction a rooftop helipads may be the better option for safe operations.

Approach / Departure Paths

Approach/Departure paths should be such that downwind operations are avoided and crosswind operations are kept to a minimum. To accomplish this, a heliport should have more than one approach/departure path.

The preferred flight approach/departure path should, to the extent feasible, be aligned with the predominate prevailing winds.

Other approach/departure paths should be based on the assessment of the Prevailing winds or when this information is not available, the separation between such flight paths and the preferred flight path should be at least 135 degrees.

Size of the Helipad



The minimum TLOF dimension (length, width, or diameter) should be 1.0 rotor diameter (RD) of the design helicopter, but not less than 40 feet (12 m) for hospital pads.

Final Approach and Takeoff Area


A defined area over which the final phase of the approach to a hover, or a landing is completed and from which the takeoff is initiated.

Safety Area

A defined area on a heliport surrounding the FATO

intended to reduce the risk of damage to helicopters accidentally diverging from the FATO. This area should be free of objects, other  than those fragible mounted objects required for air navigation purposes.

Touchdown and Lift-off Area

(TLOF). A load bearing, generally paved area, normally centered in the FATO, on which the helicopter lands or takes off.

Ground Based Helipad Thickness

For ground based helipads; in most instances a 6-inch thick (15 cm) Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) pavement is capable of supporting operations by helicopters weighing up to 20,000 pounds (9,070 kg).Larger helicopters will require  a thicker concrete helipad.


DO NOT USE asphalt for the TLOF, helicopters can sink into asphalt during hot weather causing a serious safety hazard.

Helipad Surface Design

Ensure that when applying paint,the surface is properly prepared for a non-slip surface.

When reapplying paint add silica sand to the paint to maintain the integrity of the non-slip surface.

The addition of reflective glass beads into portions of the painted helipad surface, specifically boundary markings, help to identify these areas more clearly at night. Rooftop Helipads.

The rooftop landing pad surface shall be constructed of approved noncombustible, nonporous materials.

Land-Based Helipads

The heliport shall be pitched or sloped so that drainage flows away from access points and passenger holding areas.


The rooftop landing pad shall be pitched to provide drainage at a slope of 0.5 percent to 2 percent. Drains on and surrounding the helipad should restrict the spread of fuel in order to reduce fire and explosion hazards from fuel spillage. A fuel/water separating system is a very important safety addition to all helipad drainage structures.

Wind Indicator

A windsock to show the direction and magnitude of the wind is highly recommended

and an important safety feature for all helipads. It should be Minimum of 6-8 feet in length  and lighted for night operations. It should not be t too close to the helipad. Ground based wind indicator should be , elevated at least 10-15 feet above ground level and not blocked by any structures or vegetation.

Rooftop based wind indicator should  not  be blocked by any architectural structures and elevated at least 10 feet above the surrounding structures.

Placement should be such that it reflects accurate wind speed and Direction. Windsocks need to be in free open air to indicate the correct wind direction.By elevating the wind sock higher above the building structure, you will gain a more accurate representation of wind flow and velocity.

Hospital Helipad Marking

A red capital letter H should be located in the center of the cross and oriented in the preferred direction of takeoff and landing taking into account obstacles and prevailing Winds.

Flood lights should never be located high above the helipad, they can blind pilots during night operations, creating unsafe conditions.

Flood lights should be installed at pad level and aimed down so as not to interfere with a pilots night vision.

When a beacon is provided it should be located on the highest point of the hospital.It should not be blocked by any portions of the surrounding architecture.

Safety Net

When the Touchdown and Lift-Off (TLOF) area is on a platform elevated more than 30 inches (76 cm) above its surroundings, a safety net, not less than 5 feet wide from the edge of the pad (1.5 m), should be provided around the entire pad. The safety net should have a load carrying capability of 25 lb/ft2 foot (122 kg/m2) and be anchored on all sides. The safety net should be installed no greater than 6 – 8 inches below the perimeter of the TLOF to prevent serious injury from a fall.

Elevated Helipads

Access to Elevated TLOFs.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires two separate access points for an elevated structure such as an elevated TLOF.If stairs are used, they should be built in compliance with the regulations.

When ramps are required, they should be built in compliance with regulations.The ramp surface should provide a slip-resistant surface.The slope of the ramp should be no steeper than 12:1 (12 units horizontal in 1 unit vertical).

The width of the ramp should be not less than 4 feet (1.2 m) wide.


Air flowing around and over buildings, stands of trees, terrain irregularities, etc. can create turbulence that can affect safe helicopter operations.


Helicopter operations from sites immediately adjacent to buildings and other large objects are subjected to air turbulence effects caused by such features. Therefore, it may be necessary to locate the TLOF away from such objects in order to minimize air turbulence in the vicinity of the FATO and the approach/ departure paths.

Elevated Heliports.

Elevating heliports 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above the level of the roof will generally minimize the turbulent effect of air flowing over the roof edge. While elevating the platform helps reduce or eliminate the air turbulence effects, a safety net may be required. Raising the  TLOFon elevated pads 6 feet or greater is highly recommended to both reduce the effect of turbulence & improve helicopter controllability.

An 8:1 ratio from the Final Approach and Takeoff Area (FATO) out to 4,000 feet is what the FAA uses to determine if an object is a potential hazard to the airspace around a helicopter landing area. If a hazard penetrates this area, it will either need to be removed or properly marked Marking Hazards All structures 200’ and above or any vertical hazard within 5,000 feet of a helipad such as the hospital, antennas, towers or other structures that are deemed to be a hazard to navigable airspaceneed to be lighted with red obstruction lights.

All power lines in the vicinity ofthe landing zone should be marked with the appropriate orange markers A fence installed as a perimeter for a helicopter landing area is a potential hazard to flight operations.To help keep people away from the landing zone and maintain safety, a natural low lying vegetative barrier of plant material such as boxwood, holly or other evergreen type shrub is highly recommended.


Decorative bark, woodchips and small stone should never be used around the perimeter of a helicopter landing area. The helicopter’s rotor wash can cause these items to become dangerous projectiles and the wood material is a fire hazard


DO NOT locate a helicopter landing area next to flammable liquid storage tanks, compressed gas storage tanks , and or liquefied gas storage tanks. You must maintain a lateral distance of no less than 50 feet from the Final Approach & Takeoff Area (FATO).

Fire Extinguishers

For safety purposes all heliports should be equipped with at least one fire extinguisher of the appropriate type.A fire hose cabinet or the appropriate extinguisher should be provided at each access gate/door and each Fueling location.In cases where there is a refueling system involved, a foam system may be the better option.