The geography of Croatia with its 4000 km of coastline and 1,200 islands makes it an ideal place to travel by helicopter, however in order to enjoy this country by heli, pilots should be prepared and know the rules. Helipaddy has come up with a guideline to best prepare you before you fly.
Know your Air Law
After talking to pilots who have recently flown in Croatian airspace our main advice is; know your air law. This is important because the larger airfields such as Dubrovnik LDGU and Split LDSP can be extremely crowded particularly at weekends when a lot of commercial flights are operating which also means they have limited parking. The ATC also has a tendency to treat helicopters in the same way as fixed wings; making pilots fly on the air routes and asking for long holds.
The airspace is complex cut through with innumerable low level military corridors operating from surface to 1000 agl. There are now GAFOR routes along the coast and from island to island which give a general aviation forecast along a predefined route which is useful as the weather in the mountains and along the coast can be tricky with strong headwinds; the link to the Croatian METAR can be found here. They will also light up when inputting routes on the latest version of Skydemon.
There are now some commercial operators flying to and from the islands in small helicopters. In 2013 an R44 started operations from the airfield of Stari Grad on Hvar, but its operations were stymied by bureaucracy. Consequently, there is a move to try and base an R66 at Brac but they are offering airport transfers rather than hotel landings.
At the administrative level the Croatian Civil Aviation Authority has the usual stipulations. Private aircraft must have insurance, cannot be operating for benefit unless it’s a competition and flight plans must be file filed to enter Croatian airspace.
For landing off airfield the CCAA have application forms but the conditions applied seem quite onerous. They require full details of the aircraft as well as the dates and locations where off airfield landings are to take place. However, there is no charge for getting the permissions. A specific form is required for the landing of helicopters to and from what are termed, ‘natural helicopter landing sites’ and is available here. A specific ordinance NN 52/2012 provides the specific conditions for the occasional takeoff and landing of helicopters. These conditions include:
- Authorisation for specific sites is required but may be retained for a year
- Notification of the appropriate police department
- Landings must be VFR
- The pilot must recieve permission from the owner of the landing site
- There are also several stipulations to do with the size, shape and environs of the proposed landing site
Where to land in Croatia
Helipaddy has a few hotels which are available for helicopter landings, these are on sites approved by the CCAA, but all landing helicopters must have applied for a landing at a ‘natural helicopter landing site’. Pilots should be aware that this process might take two to three weeks. If you come prepare and know the rules you can take advantage of Croatia’s beauty.
Click on a landing site to view more information, including landing instructions and contact details. All landing sites are available to Helipaddy Premium members.