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Minimum altitude helicopters can fly

lalvar41

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I am always respectful of flying my P4Pro below 400 feet. However, sometimes I see some helicopters around that seems so close. Does anybody know if they have to fly above 400 feet? I guess they also have rules.
 

SanCap

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They do not have to fly above 400 feet, they have their own set of rules but I have seen many operate within unsafe proximity to people or property.

§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.

(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

(d) Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface -

(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and
 

Phaedrus

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^^^^^^Nailed It^^^^^^^^^

People need to stop thinking that there is anything we can call "our airspace". It is ALL NAS and it is on us not to bump into anything.
 

2edgesword

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Since we (sUAS operators) are allows suppose to have our aircraft within line of sight the onus is on us to see and avoid other aircraft. I think in the vast majority of cases someone flying a manned aircraft is not going to see a sUAS operating, especially if the sUAS is operating at the same or a lower altitude.

That said it is a pucker up moment when you hear those rotors but don't yet see the helicopter and you only have a general idea of direction and no idea of altitude. My thinking would be that if you're at the maximum 400' start descending as low as you can go without hitting some obstruction and keeping the drone in sight. The chances of an incident probably decrease as the altitude of the sUAS decreases.
 

LUIS MARTINEZ

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Since we (sUAS operators) are allows suppose to have our aircraft within line of sight the onus is on us to see and avoid other aircraft. I think in the vast majority of cases someone flying a manned aircraft is not going to see a sUAS operating, especially if the sUAS is operating at the same or a lower altitude.

That said it is a pucker up moment when you hear those rotors but don't yet see the helicopter and you only have a general idea of direction and no idea of altitude. My thinking would be that if you're at the maximum 400' start descending as low as you can go without hitting some obstruction and keeping the drone in sight. The chances of an incident probably decrease as the altitude of the sUAS decreases.
"the onus is on us to see and avoid other aircraft. " And it's the law.

§ 107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.
(a) Each small unmanned aircraft must yield the right of way to all aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch and reentry vehicles. Yielding the right of way means that the small unmanned aircraft must give way to the aircraft or vehicle and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.

(b) No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard.
 

SanCap

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The "Must Yield" phrase is is a nice thing for the FAA to add to a regulation but not always practical. As an example I will site an experience I had. Flying an Inspire 2 at 350 feet with a clear line of sight between myself and my Inspire I heard a low flying helicopter copter approaching without any idea of its direction or altitude. Visually I could not see it, I was below the tree line and could only see outward in one direction. I literally had 20 seconds to react. My decision was to stay in the same location I had the Inspire located while doing a 360 pano. The mosquito control helicopter was at about 125 feet above the ground. I could see it fly between myself and Inspire. If I would have descended I most likely would have descended into the helicopter. The NOTAM I had placed for the exact time and location did absolutely nothing to help with flight safety.
 
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LUIS MARTINEZ

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The "Must Yield" phrase is is a nice thing for the FAA to add to a regulation but not always practical. As an example I will site an experience I had. Flying an Inspire 2 at 350 feet with a clear line of sight between myself and my Inspire I heard a low flying helicopter copter approaching without any idea of its direction or altitude. Visually I could not see it, I was below the tree line and could only see outward in one direction. I literally had 20 seconds to react. My decision was to stay in the same location I had the Inspire located while doing a 360 pano. The mosquito control helicopter was at about 125 feet above the ground. I could see it fly between myself and Inspire. If I would have descended I most likely would have descended into the helicopter. The NOTAM I had placed for the exact time and location did absoulutly to help with flight safety.
Must yield doesn't mean move or land. You evaluated the potential conflict and made an aeronautical decision it would be safer to maintain position than to move. IMHO opinion you "yielded."
 
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R.Perry

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Helicopter pilots are a different breed, and many times they operate by their own rules and the FAA doesn't do much about it. We had a life flight come into our job site, his approach to the site was less than 300 feet, he flew right over people during his approach. This kind of operation by helicopter pilots is just common place until they crash. Watch some of the videos of stupid helicopter pilots and the mistakes they make.
 

R.Perry

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Minimum altitudes do not apply to take off or landing.
That is true, but the approach altitude should. I do understand the med flights are critical so the pilot is wanting to get on site asap, and back to the hospital the same. It is like if I'm making a VFR approach I maintain 1000 feet AGL on my down wind and then start my decent on the base, on strait in approaches I follow the glide slope, it is just good safe practices. On ILS approaches I stay just above the glide slope, again good safe practices.
 
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AMann

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Also keep your drone off ridge tops if you cannot see what’s flying over them from the other side, helicopters and planes can sneak up over them sometimes without much warning. We get low flying aircraft sometimes that skim a hill on their approach leg to our local air tanker base and its really hard to know when and from where they will appear over it sometimes!
 

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