Taxiing refers to operations on, or near the surface of taxiways or other prescribed routes. In helicopters, there are three distinct types of Taxiing: Hover, Air, & Surface.


A "Hover Taxi" is used when operating below 25 feet AGL. Since a hover taxi is just like forward, sideward, or rearward hovering flight, the technique to perform it will not be presented here.


An "Air Taxi" is preferred when movements require greater distances within an airport or heliport boundary. In this case, you basically fly to your new location; however you are expected to remain below 100 feet AGL, and to avoid overflight of other aircraft, vehicles and personnel.


Before starting, determine the appropriate airspeed and altitude combination to remain outside the hazardous areas of the height-velocity diagram for the particular helicopter. Additionally, be aware of crosswind conditions that could lead to a loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE). Pick out two references directly in front of the helicopter for the ground path desired. These reference points should be kept in line throughout the maneuver.

Begin the maneuver from a normal hovering altitude by applying forward cyclic pressure on the cyclic. As movement begins, attain the desires airspeed with cyclic. Control the desired altitude with the collective, heading with the antitorque pedals, and rotor RPM with throttle (governor craft have it easier.) Maintain throughout the maneuver.

To stop the forward movement, apply aft cyclic pressure to reduce forward speed. Simultaneously lower collective to initaite a descent to hover altitude, amintaining heading with the antitorque pedals. As forward motion stops, return the cyclic to the neutral position (hovering position you had at the beginning) to prevent rearward movement. When at the proper hover altitude, increase the collective as necessary coordinating with pedal input to maintain heading.

Common Errors

Erratic movement of the cyclic, resulting in improper airspeed control and erratic movement over the surface.
Failure to use antitorque pedals properly, resulting in excessive heading changes.
Failure to maintain desired altitude.
Failure to maintain proper rotor RPM.
Overflying parked aircraft causing possible damage from rotor downwash.
Flying in a crosswind that could lead to LTE.

Air Taxiing is a fun way to get about at a large airport, again one of the things that set us and our aircraft apart from fixed wing. Be careful not to exceed altitude restrictions, and be aware of the surroundings, parked aircraft, vehicles and personnel.


A "Surface Taxi" for those helicopters with landing gear of the wheeled type, is used whenever you wish to minimize the effects of rotor downwash.


The helicopter should be in a stationary position on the surface with the collective full down, rotor RPM should be the same as used to hover. This RPM should be maintained throughout the maneuver.

Then, move the cyclic slightly forward and apply gradual upward pressure on the collective to move the helicopter forward along the surface. Use the antitorque pedals to maintain heading and the cyclic to maintain the ground track desired.

The collective controls starting, stopping, and groundspeed while taxiing. The higher the collective pitch, the faster the taxi speed; however you should not taxi faster than a brisk walk. If the particular helicopter is equipped with brakes, use them to assist in slowing down. Do not use the cyclic to control groundspeed.

During a crosswind taxi, hold the cyclic into the wind a sufficient amount to eliminate an drifting movement.

Common Errors

Improper use of cyclic.
Failure to use antitorque pedals for heading control.
Improper use of the controls during crosswind operations.
failure to maintain proper rotor RPM.

If you got wheels on your heli, you are one of the lucky ones (I envy the 222/230/430 guys).

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Page Last Updated on: Nov-06-2017