A Confined Area is an area where the flight of the helicopter is limited in some direction by terrain or the presence of obstructions, natural or manmade. for example, a clearing in the woods, a city street, a road, a building roof, etc., can each be regarded as a confined area. Generally, takeoffs and landings should be made into the wind to obtain maximum airspeed with minimum groundspeed.

There are several things to consider when operating in confined areas. One of the most important is maintaining a clearance between the rotors and obstacles froming the confined area.

The tail rotor deserves special consideration because, in some helicopters, you cannot always see it from the cockpit. This not only applies while making the approach, but while hovering as well.

Another consideration is that wires are especially difficult to see; however their supporting devices, such as poles or towers, server as an indication of their presance and approximate height. If any wind is present, you should also expect some turbulence.

Something else for you to consider is the availability of forced landing areas during the planned approach. you should think about the possibility of flying from one alternate landing area to another throughout the approach, while avoiding unfavorable areas. Always leave yourself a way out in case the landing cannot be completed or a go-around is necessary.


A high reconnaissance should be completed before initiating the confined area approach. Start the approach phase using the wind and speed to the best possible advantage. Keep in mind areas suitable for forced landings. t may be necessary to choose between an apporach that is crosswind, but over an open area, and one directly into the wind, but over heavily wooded or extermely rough terrain where a safe forced landing would be impossible. If these conditions exist, consider the possibility of making the initial phase of the approach crosswind over the open area and then turning into the wind for the final portion of the approach.

Always operate the helicopter as close to its normal capabilities as possible, taking into consideration the situation in hand. In all confined area operations, with the exception of the pinnacle operation, the angle of descent should be no steeper than necessary to clear an barrier in the approach path and still land on the selected spot. Clearing a barrier by a few feet and maintaining normal operating RPM, with perhaps a reserve of power, is better than clearing a barrier by a wide margin but with a dangerously low RPM and no power reserve.

Always make the landing to a specific point and not to some general area. This point should be located well forward, away from the approach end of the area. The more confined the area, the more essential it is that you land the helicopter precisely at a definate point. Keep this point in sight during the entire approach.

When flying a helicopter near obstructions, always consider the tail rotor. A safe angle of descent over barriers must be established to ensure tail rotor clearance of all obstructions. After coming to a hover, take care to avoid turning the tail into obstructions.


A confined area takeoff is an altitude over airspeed maneuver. Before takeoff, make a ground reconnaissance to determine the type of takeoff to be performed, to determine the point from which the takeoff should be initiated to ensure the maximum amount of available area, and finally, how to best maneuver the helicopter from the landing point to the proposed takeoff position.

If wind conditions and available area permit, the helicopter should be brought to a hover, turned around, and hovered forward from the landing position to the takeoff position. Under certain conditions, sideward flight to the takeoff position may be necessary. If rearward flight is required to reach the takeoff position, place reference markers in front of the helicopter in such a way that a ground track can be safely followed to the takeoff position. In addition, the takeoff marker should be located so that it can be seen without hovering beyond it.

When planning the takeoff, consider the direction of the wind, obstructions, and forced landing areas. To help you fly up and over an obstacle, you should form an imaginary line from a point on the leading edge of the helicopter to the highest obstacle to be cleared. Fly this line of ascent with enough power to clear the obstacle by a safe distance. After clearing the obstacle, maintain the power setting and accelerate to the normal climb power setting.

Common Errors

Failure to perform, or improper performance of,a high or low reconnaissance.
Flying the approach angle at too steep or too shallow an approach for the existing conditions.
Failure to maintain proper rotor RPM.
Failure to consider emergency landing areas.
Failure to select a specific landing spot.
Failure to consider how wind and turbulence could affect the approach.
Improper takeoff and climb technique for existing conditions.

Confined areas! This is where the helicopter makes its bread and butter. The only thing that I really learned doing these maneuvers that I wish to pass on, is that you will be inside the height-velocity chart curve for any helicopter during both approach and landing. The trick is to know that, and if applicable, plan both to minimize the time spent there.

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Page Last Updated on: Nov-06-2017