Helicopter Take-off[PDF]


Helicopters are able to take off without a great length available, from a hospital helipad for example. Generally, helicopters do not need a runway to take off and can do it directly from airports helipads, aprons or FATO (Final Approach and Take Off area).

In some situations, depending on local procedures or performance of some helicopters, a runway must be used to take off. If so, this information can be found in AD Charts (Published Procedures For Helicopters)
Usually helicopters depart from parking positions to FATO or TLOF (Touchdown and Lift Off area); it is from these positions that they take off.


In any case, the local procedures must be read because some rules differ from one place to another; helicopters can sometimes take off from a parking position

There is also specific phraseology for helicopters (Helicopter flight Phraseology Example) that may be a little different from that used for airplanes

Take off manoeuvres

There are several techniques to take off and some are more complex than others.

The technique to be used mainly depends on where the helicopter takes off. For example, taking off from a place with a lot of obstacles will not be carried out with the method used for taking off from an airport

Here is the list of most frequently used techniques:

  • Take off from a hover
  • Take off from a surface
  • Running Take off
  • Maximum performance take off (or Towering take off)

Running take off and Maximum performance take off will not be explained in detail because they are advanced manoeuvres rarely used under VFR. The Running take off is used when there is not enough power to bring the helicopter to the hover prior to climbing; the Maximum Performence Take off is used to take off from a confined area

Take off from a hover

This technique is used most and requires the ability to perform a hover (Helicopter Hover)

TO from a hover.png

  1. The helicopter is on ground, the cyclic pitch control is centralized, the collective pitch control pulled down and pedals are not used
  2. The helicopter is in a hover (Helicopter Hover) between 3ft and 5ft maximum
  3. The cyclic is moved forward smoothly in order to start the helicopter moving, the collective is used to prevent sink
  4. Helicopter accelerates through effective transitional lift and begins to climb, the nose rises up; use the collective to apply climb power and pull the cyclic forward
  5. As the helicopter continues to climb and accelerate, apply aft cyclic pressure to raise the nose smoothly to the normal climb attitude

As explained in the section Helicopter controls, any action on a flight control will cause a reaction on the helicopter flight attitude which will have to be adjusted using another flight control. Pilots must always monitor the helicopter attitude during all the take off phases

Take off from a surface

This manoeuvre is similar to the one used to perform a "Take off from a hover" but for this technique there is no hover to perform

See also


  • FAA Flying Helicopter Handbook
  • Principles of helicopter flight (2nd Edition)


  • 514786 -Creation


  • 12:47, 23 February 2021


  • This documentation is copyrighted as part of the intellectual property of the International Virtual Aviation Organisation.


  • The content of this documentation is intended for aviation simulation only and must not be used for real aviation operations.