Landing Guides, Region Guide

France Helicopter Guide

Flying in France

Individual EU country rules are based on EASA’s Rules of the Air for flying in Europe so it is important to understand these basics.

To fly in France, a certificate is required which can often take two months to be approved. Use the form here to get approval. The importance of this certificate was explained by a helipaddy member; “If I had been challenged without the correct paperwork, I could have faced a €10,000 bill. Even worse, our French friends could have possessed one’s aircraft. Hence I have all the paperwork in the aircraft folder – stamps and seals are always sure to impress.” Other than that France is categorised as EXCELLENT for flying around in a helicopter.

The Helisurface Permit

Where to land in France

France has some wonderful chateaux, some of which are under 100 Euros a night where landing is easy and the hosts are delightful.

To explore more private landing sites in France, go Premium today.

The Rules for French Helisurfaces

The decree on helicopter landing sites in France details the regulatory framework governing their establishment and use. Section 1 covers the general configuration of helipads, emphasizing the need for suitable approaches and minimal obstacles. Section 2 delineates the classification of helistations based on their usage frequency and capacity, defining specific criteria for regular and high-capacity helistations. Section 3 addresses the operational regulations for helisurfaces, outlining the use limitations for occasional or exceptional operations, the process for pre-approval by authorities, and insurance requirements. Section 4 imposes additional restrictions on helipad usage, granting prefects the authority to limit air traffic for various reasons, including environmental protection and public tranquility, with specific provisions to address noise nuisances and ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

Important factors for non-commercial flights

  1. Helipad Usage Frequency: Understand the limitations on the number of movements at a helisurface, ensuring they do not exceed 200 annually and 20 daily, unless in the case of exceptional temporary events.
  2. Prior Agreements: Secure advance agreement from the owner for the use of land or sea-based helipads and ensure the helipad is accessible to police representatives for inspection.
  3. Notification of Authorities: Inform prefectural authorities prior to the start of operations, especially for operations that exceed the usual limitations due to special events.
  4. Insurance Requirements: Maintain sufficient insurance or guarantee to cover damages to third parties when using helipads.
  5. Adherence to Movement Thresholds: Keep track of helicopter movements, particularly noting that any movement within 150 meters of a helipad is counted towards the helipad’s movement threshold.
  6. Environmental and Public Tranquility Considerations: Be aware that the use of a helipad may be restricted or prohibited by the prefect due to noise nuisance or environmental concerns.
  7. Pilot Training and Flight Hours: Ensure compliance with the requirements for minimum flight hours and specific training for operations in cramped areas unless exempt due to possessing a professional pilot license or having completed 300 hours of flight as a private pilot.

Section I General regulations

General regulations general regulations for helicopter landings and take-offs, helistations, and helipads in various locations, including those outside traditional aerodromes and on land or at sea. It introduces a specific creation order for VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, setting conditions such as the number of lifting units, passenger capacity, and maximum take-off mass. Additionally, it details the authority of the Minister responsible for civil aviation and the prefecture in authorizing VTOL use at helistations.

The section defines landing and take-off operations for helicopters, not necessarily requiring contact with the surface. It also amends overflight rules for agglomerations, referring to aeronautical maps for guidance, and provides exemptions for military and state aircraft from certain provisions, with the exception of those related to liability.

Section II Public transport

Regulations for helistations, which are specialized for public transport on demand:

  • Chapter I establishes that helistations may serve public air traffic or specific purposes as per aviation codes and that their creation and operation must comply with conditions applicable to aerodromes.
  • Chapter II deals with the authorization, commissioning, and use of helistations:
  • Article 7 details the authorization process for creating helistations through prefectural orders.
  • Article 8 specifies the documentation required for authorization, including operational plans, environmental impact assessments, and relevant agreements and approvals.
  • Article 9 covers the authorization or refusal of creation, commissioning procedures, and conditions for operation, as well as circumstances under which authorization can be modified, suspended, or withdrawn, such as noise nuisance or technical non-compliance.
  • Article 10 restricts the use of helistations to their intended purpose but allows for some exceptions, such as aerial work operations or private flights under certain conditions, and emphasizes their availability for urgent public service operations.

The section emphasizes the importance of adhering to technical, legal, and environmental standards in the establishment and operation of helistations, highlighting the role of local authorities and the need for detailed planning and community impact consideration.

Section 3 Use of helisurfaces

Section 3 of the document outlines the regulations pertaining to the establishment and use of helisurfaces in both land and maritime contexts:

Chapter I: General Provisions

  • Helipads can be used occasionally, with specific movement limitations: fewer than 200 annual movements and 20 daily movements, not including certain pilot training activities.
  • Temporary excess in movements is permitted for specific events and must be reported to prefectural authorities.
  • Special authorization for helisurface use involves consultation with various local and regional officials and can include specific flight path designations.

Chapter II: Helisurfaces on Land

  • Onshore helipads can be used without prior authorization, subject to certain conditions and reporting requirements.
  • Usage includes public transport, airwork, and private flights, with specific reporting required for theft and a declaration process for areas with environmental considerations.

Chapter III: Helisurfaces at Sea

  • Maritime helisurfaces require an area to be approved by the maritime prefect, with a multi-agency consultation process.
  • There is a provision for a simplified approval process for urgent operations.

Chapter IV: Authorization to Use Helipads

  • Authorizations are based on assessments by national authorities and are valid for up to five years, with renewability.
  • Specific pilot experience and training requirements are stipulated, with exemptions for certain license holders.

Overall, the section establishes a comprehensive set of rules for the occasional use, authorization, and operation of helisurfaces, with particular attention to safety, environmental impact, and regulatory compliance.

Section 4 Helipad restrictions

Section 4 of the document sets forth restrictions that may be applied to the use of helipads and helistations, as follows:

  • Article 18 clarifies that the decree does not affect the possibility of imposing use restrictions for a variety of reasons including air traffic, customs surveillance, public tranquility and security, environmental protection, national defense, or national security.
  • Article 18-1 allows the prefect to limit the volume of traffic at helistations as deemed necessary, based on environmental and usage criteria, with a maximum of 5,000 movements per year and 100 per day.
  • Article 18-2 permits the prefect or maritime prefect to restrict or prohibit the use of a helipad, especially in cases where the operation causes significant noise disturbances or when the helipad has been used in violation of the established provisions or authorization requirements.

These articles ensure that while helipads can facilitate a variety of operations, their use remains subject to regulations aimed at protecting the public interest and adhering to legal standards.

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