World Food

Programme Air Transport Manual


points where they are then airlifted by helicopter into the affected area. Several criteria such as refuelling facilities have to be met. Moreover Pick up points should not be created in isolation of other actors. Cooperation between humanitarian organizations and, where acceptable, the military may offer the best options in view of maximum efficiency.

c.  In some cases, particularly where safe helipads in the crisis area are
unavailable, WFP AFO should consider using the sling method. A sling
operation reduces a helicopter’s turn-around time and, as such, significantly
increases (doubles) its daily capacity. Sling loads are generally considered
where commodities are urgently needed and insufficient airlift capacity is
available.     However, the overall speed of a helicopter fitted with a sling
decreases by an average of 33 per cent which increases the trip-cost. The
financial cost of a sling load increases in proportion to the distance to be
covered. Sling operations are thus appropriate for short distance only (i.e.,
less than 40 NM). In all cases, when contracting helicopters, it should be
mentioned in the RFO, that it is mandatory for the air carrier to have a sling
and winching capability.




a.  As soon as it is evident that helicopter operations are being considered,
helipad assessments should be high on the priority list of the Technical
Survey  Team (TST),  which  is  conducting  the  survey  of  the  aviation

infrastructure.  Normally,  airfields  will  meet  helipad  requirements,  on condition that the helicopter operating area is located a safe distance from the runway and aircraft parking area. Be aware of the danger posed by jet or hot engine blast

b.  Where,  for  geographical  reasons,  the  option  to  conduct  helicopter
operations from an airfield is not possible, the TST should focus on finding a
helipad that can be converted to a helicopter Pick-up point. In addition to
technical data on the location, altitude, etc, the following criteria must be

The helipads should be suitable for the operational needs, safe,
within easy access of a road (for delivery or dispatch of commodities by
truck), have space for office containers, fuel storage and having a warehouse in the vicinity. If the latter is not available, space should be available to erect an inflatable warehouse at a safe distance from the helicopter operating area.

If other humanitarian actors are present, ensure that there is
sufficient space for all helicopters, at a safe distance from the landing
and take off area;

Make sure that a specific area is reserved for the WFP AFO

helicopter fleet;

Is there any ATC available? This is a must if multiple helicopters

will be operating out of the same helipad.

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Programme Air Transport Manual


Are there any noise or other restrictions?

The  landing  area  should  be  flat,  and  have  a  relatively  hard


Fuel provision is a must. Is there enough? Ensure that the fuel
services meet the requirements as outlined in Annex R (Fuel Quality

Control and Storage). How would the fuel be transported? What about staff, driver etc.? Is there a pump available? Coordinate fuel issues and services with other humanitarian actors.

Are  fire  extinguishers  available,  functional  and  in  adequate


c.  A safe landing area for helicopter is, by definition, at least 20 metres longer and larger than the area occupied by the craft when it is stationary (i.e., a minimum 10m margin around the helicopter). Helicopters with a rotor diameter of 18m require a landing area with a 38m width.

d.  The angle of approach must be less than 45 degrees.

e.  Take off is normally done into the wind. The sector of +/- 45 0 from the take-off axis should be clear of obstacles which are higher than 20% of their distance from the take-off point. e.g, obstacles at 100 metres from the take off point must be less than 20 metres high.

f. The helipad must have a white H painted in the middle, indicating the

touch-down point.

g.  Sand, dust, small stones and any object such as garbage, planks and other light-weight items represent a serious danger to the helicopters as these can be picked up by the downwash of the rotors. Sand or snow can blind  the  pilot  during  the  landing and  garbage  can  hit bystanders  or seriously damage the blades or engine of the helicopter.


The management structure depends on the size of the operation and the concept.

a.  If the helicopter operation takes place from the Operations Base where  other  WFP  AFO  activities  take  place,  the  normal management structure as described in Chapter 7.2  applies.

b.  If helicopters have to deploy to one or more helipads, the CATO shall appoint at least one AMO with the necessary assistants to manage the operations at this Pick-up point.

c.  If helicopters have to deliver the commodities and disembark
humanitarian  workers  close  to  the  beneficiaries,  helipads  are
established. If these helipads are only occasionally used, there is no
need for permanent manning. Nevertheless, it is helpful to have a
local representative making sure that the helipad is clear upon



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arrival of the helicopter and preventing people to approach the helicopter, in particular when the propellers are rotating. Staff Responsibilities

Staff responsibilities are similar to those described in paragraph 7.3.1 and Chapters 7.5, to 7.8. Nevertheless, a few specific issues regarding helicopter operations have to be reminded:

a.  When checking the configuration of the helicopter(s) upon arrival,
the CATO or ATO will verify the items as mentioned paragraph

7.5.2. In addition, following issues are important:

   Are the helicopters and crews certified for instrument flight
rules (IFR)?

   Are there adequate straps and nets for cargo tie-down?

   Are  the  passenger  seats  according  to  certification  and
equipped with serviceable seatbelts?

   Are ear plugs or protectors available for passengers?

   If  applicable,  does  it  have  the  necessary  equipment  to
conduct a sling operation, (refer to Annex S)


b. Special attention should be paid to:

   Informing passengers of specific hazards when embarking or
disembarking the helicopter;

   Ensuring that one crew member is present during the boarding

   Escorting passengers between the terminals and the helicopter;


7.12.4 CONTROL & MONITORING SERVICES Air Traffic Control (ATC)

National authorities are responsible for all air traffic control (ATC) in their country.

a.  On an uncontrolled helipad there are no legal requirements for an ATC. However, where the helipad is congested, ATC services should be established wherever possible.

b.  WFP   Aviation   Field   Operation   should   encourage   the
establishment  of  an  ATC  service;  it  could  offer  to  contribute
financially to the set-up and running costs of a temporary system. Flight Following

Even if the helicopters are operating from helipads, flight following procedures should be implemented as discussed in Chapter 7.10. Considering that  helicopters  are  used  for  short  distances,  only departure and arrival radio contacts are required.




WFP Air Transport Manual Section 7 WFP Aviation Field Operation

Effective Date: 01.01.2009 Edition: 1.1 Page: 114- 98