NAS Implementation - Vertical Flight
Vertical Flight (VF) is a unique method of flight that has fundamental differences from traditional, fixed-wing operations. These include:
Flight Dynamics – Fixed-wing aircraft land then stop, while helicopters stop then land. Helicopters fly slower, lower, and are much more flexible in regards to landing approaches; therefore, many of the rules developed for fixed-wing aircraft are not applicable to helicopters.Operational Environment (including offshore, remote, and urban non-airport areas) - Helicopters take off from and operate in obstacle-rich and space-constrained areas, such as hospital heliports, downtown heliports, and landing areas close to other modes of transportation, such as train stations or highways. Helicopters can be much more agile than fixed-wing aircraft and consume less airspace.
Landing Facilities - Fixed-wing aircraft land on runways where the minimum instrument runway length is 3,200 feet. Helicopters, however, only need a 75 x 75
Simultaneous Non-Interfering Operations - Helicopters can fly separate approaches to landing areas at airports without slowing down traditional, fixed-wing aircraft approaches. This is important because fixed-wing aircraft approach the runway at a much greater speed than helicopters and a helicopter in the same approach path can slow down airport traffic.
Vertical flight has grown in importance in recent years due to its wider use in industry and its many public benefits. These include the vital role VF plays in public safety, emergency services, law enforcement, oil and mineral exploration, and other industrial applications.
To learn more about the benefits of WAAS to vertical flight and associated FAA projects, please see our Benefits of WAAS to Helicopters fact sheet.