A helicopter landing pad (helipad) is a landing area or platform for helicopters. While helicopters are able to operate on a variety of relatively flat surfaces, a fabricated helipad provides a clearly marked hard surface away from obstacles where a helicopter can land safely.
Helipads may be located at a heliport or airport where fuel, air traffic control and service facilities for aircraft are available. However, most helipads are located remotely away from such facilities due to space and cost constraints.
Some office towers maintain a helipad on their roofs in order to accommodate air taxi services. Some basic helipads are built on highrise buildings for evacuation in case of a major fire outbreak. Major police departments may use a dedicated helipad at heliports as a base for police helicopters. Large ships and oilrigs sometimes have a helipad on board (usually referred to as a helicopter deck or helideck).
Helipads are common features at hospitals where they serve to facilitate MEDEVACs or air ambulance transfers of patients to trauma units or to accept patients from remote areas without local hospitals or facilities capable of providing the level of emergency care required. In urban environments, these heliports are typically located on the roof of the hospital.
Rooftop helipads sometimes display a large two-digit number, representing the weight limit (in thousands of pounds) of the pad. In addition, a second number may be present, representing the maximum rotor diameter in feet.
Location identifiers are often, but not always, issued for helipads. They may be issued by the appropriate aviation authority. In the United States authorized agencies include the FAA, ICAO, TC and IATA. Some helipads may have location identifiers from multiple sources, and these identifiers may be of different format and name.
Helipads are usually constructed out of concrete and are marked with a circle and/or a letter "H", so as to be visible from the air. However, they are not always constructed out of concrete; sometimes forest fire fighters will construct a temporary helipad out of wood to receive supplies in remote areas. Rig mats may be used to build helipads. Landing pads may also be constructed in extreme conditions such as on ice.
A helipad atop the SunAmerica Center in Century City, California, USA
The main helipad at University Hospital Coventry in England
A helicopter touches down on a helideck on board the High Speed Vessel Swift
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- FAA Advisory Circular 150/5390-2B page 51
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