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Read More: Land & LIVE Action Items
August 13, 2018

When things change during a flight and a pilot begins to reassess the wisdom of continuing the flight and whether or not to make a precautionary landing, there are a number of steps the pilot may want to consider.

Step 1. Commit to Land & LIVE

If your gut says land, listen! Then commit to a precautionary landing and do it.

Step 2. Assess Level of Urgency

If you are concerned but there is no imminent danger, your best choice may be to select the nearest (NRST) airport on your GPS and proceed to the nearest aviation facility.

Practice and become familiar with this procedure. Make sure your GPS is not set to filter out small or private airports or heliports. Reaching an airport, even a private-use one, is a better choice than landing off site, as long as the situation does not worsen.

But understand your situation can quickly become more urgent.

If there is real or perceived imminent danger in continuing flight, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3. Choose Spot to Land

Most of the time, a helicopter pilot who needs to land as soon as practicable has a number of options available. Use these priorities when selecting a landing area:

  • Safety of approach and landing
  • Survival of persons on board once on the ground (don’t assume you will have the ability to take off again)
  • Safety of persons on the ground
  • Ground accessibility for aircraft repairs and personnel egress and ingress

Step 4. Land & LIVE

An off-site precautionary landing will involve varying degrees of additional stress beyond those of a normal landing at the intended landing site. Remember to do the following:

  • Alert air traffic control or your company of your intent, if possible. Remember that cell or text service may not be available in the landing area.
  • Slow down and steepen the approach.
  • Be aware that engine cooldowns are NOT a limitation. If you land with people around, shut down IMMEDIATELY.
  • You have exercised good judgment. Stand by your decision.

Read More: The Pilot's Responsibility for Safety
August 13, 2018

By U.S. federal regulation, pilots are the final authority regarding the safety of flight.

14 CFR 91.3(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

14 CFR 91.3(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may dviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

14 CFR 135.19(b) In an emergency involving the safety of persons or property, the pilot in command may deviate from the rules of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

The bottom line is that no one — not the pilot’s employer, not air traffic control, not even the FAA — can overrule a pilot’s safety decision. The pilot might have to justify his decision after the fact, but during a flight, only the pilot can decide if and when it’s necessary to make a precautionary landing.

Read More: How First Responders Can Help
August 13, 2018

Dispatch has just called: a helicopter has landed unexpectedly in a local park. The pilot had not requested prior permission to do so. What are you likely to find when you arrive?

You’re likely to find a pilot, possibly with passengers, who opted to make a precautionary landing because something just wasn’t right with the flight. Perhaps the weather turned more quickly than forecast. Maybe winds were stronger so he was burning more fuel than planned for. Maybe a warning light came on. Or perhaps either he or his passengers started to feel poorly during the flight.

For a pilot, a precautionary landing is the equivalent of a driver pulling off to the shoulder. It’s something you do before a situation becomes an emergency. And it’s the responsible, professional thing to do.

How First Responders Can Help

If you are dispatched to the scene of a precautionary landing, you can help secure the scene and maintain public safety.

Once you’ve determined that the situation is safe, there are a couple of things you can do to assist the pilot and expedite the helicopter’s departure.

First, help protect the helicopter:

  • Establish a cordon.
  • If the helicopter has landed in or near a street, use your vehicle to divert traffic past the rotor blades.
  • Because of the potential for fuel spills, use your light bar to alert traffic. DO NOT use flares!

Second, ask the pilot if he or she needs help contacting their home base.
The pilot may need to update their base on the status of the flight and the condition of the crew, passengers, and aircraft. Depending on the reason for the precautionary landing, the pilot may also need to arrange for repairs or fuel.

Read More: Updating Policies
August 13, 2018

Whether it’s part of your FAA-approved operations manual, your company standard operating procedures or safety management system manuals, or posted as a policy letter, a written declaration that you support precautionary landings as a safety measure will assure your flight crews that they can use the maneuver without fear of retribution.

Here is a suggestion from the HAI Operations Department of how such a statement might look:

Section 1.0 – Company Support of Precautionary Landings

[Insert Company or Organization Name Here] supports the decision of pilots to execute precautionary landings when continued safety of flight is in perceived or actual jeopardy. Examples of situations include, but are not limited to, deteriorating or unsafe weather conditions, uncertainty of aircraft integrity, or potential incapacitation of a required crew member.

[Insert Company or Organization Name Here] affirms by this policy that all decisions to execute precautionary landing for any cause and performed with reasonable care will be supported and will not result in any personnel action that could be considered punitive. As part of [Insert Company or Organization Name Here]’s just culture, this affirmation extends even to cases where the precautionary landing was made as a result of inadequate planning or preparation, or even in cases of questionable judgment.

Accident prevention is the objective of this policy. Therefore [Insert Company or Organization Name Here] accepts that any inconvenience, loss of business, or costs associated with precautionary landings is in the best interests of [Insert Company or Organization Name Here] and the health and well-being of all of its employees.

Another way to show support for your pilots who may face the decision to make a precautionary landing is to sign the Land & LIVE operator’s pledge.

Read More: Relevant Aviation Regulations
August 13, 2018


Aeronautics Act, Section 3.1 Definitions: “Pilot-in-command” means, in relation to an aircraft, the pilot having responsibility and authority for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight time.

Aeronautics Act, Section 8.5 No person shall be found to have contravened a provision of this Part or any regulation, notice, order, security measure or emergency direction made under this Part if the person exercised all due diligence to prevent the contravention.

CAR 602.31(3)(a)(b) The pilot-in-command of an aircraft may deviate from an air traffic control clearance or an air traffic control instruction to the extent necessary to carry out a collision avoidance manoeuvre, where the manoeuvre is carried out (a) in accordance with a resolution advisory generated by an Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) or a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS); or (b) in response to a warning from a Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) on board the aircraft.

CAR Standard 725.20 (v) Once a flight has commenced, the final decision on any changes to the Operational Flight Plan shall be taken by the pilot-in-command based on considerations of safety.

European Union

Basic Regulation 216/2008, Annex IV, 7c. The pilot in command must have the authority to give all commands and take any appropriate actions for the purpose of securing the operation and the safety of the aircraft and of persons and/or property carried therein.

Basic Regulation 216/2008, Annex IV, 7d. In an emergency situation, which endangers the operation or the safety of the aircraft and/or persons on board, the pilot in command must take any action he/she considers necessary in the interest of safety. When such action involves a violation of local regulations or procedures, the pilot in command must be responsible for notifying the appropriate local authority without delay.


(In Japan, the exemption is not written in aviation law, but in the penal code)
Article 37 (1) An act unavoidably performed to avert a present danger to the life, body, liberty or property of oneself or any other person is not punishable only when the harm produced by such act does not exceed the harm to be averted; provided, however, that an act causing excessive harm may lead to the punishment being reduced or may exculpate the offender in light of the circumstances.

United States of America

14 CFR 91.3(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

14 CFR 135.19(b) In an emergency involving the safety of persons or property, the pilot in command may deviate from the rules of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.