The FAA recently released a new revision to the Helicopter Design Guide (150/5390-2D – Draft AC 150/5390-2D, Heliport Design).
This draft provides standards for the planning, design and construction of heliports serving helicopters with single, tandem (front and rear) or dual (side by side) rotors.
Rex Alexander, President of Five-Alpha and the infrastructure advisor to the Vertical Flight Society pointed out one rather interesting caveat in Chapter-1 of the advisory circular draft where the FAA states; “This guidance does not address landing areas for or operations by vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft or unmanned aircraft.” Alexander went on to say that, “given the present landscape, I do not foresee a vertiport standard that directly addresses Urban Air Mobility and eVTOL infrastructure being published by the FAA for potentially 3-4 years. However, I do see a real possibility where there could be 2-3, if not more, fully certified eVTOL aircraft in operation before that, all looking for places to operate.”
If the FAA’s heliport design advisory circular is not to be used as the starting point for eVTOL infrastructure, the question then becomes what guidance can we give states and municipalities today who are eager to embrace and attract this new mode of transportation in the future? Alexander says that this is where he sees an opportunity for ASTM International, whose team of volunteers have been developing a consensus based vertiport standard for the last three and a half years. “The ASTM vertiport standard, once published, could serve to bridge this temporary gap for the purposes of municipality master planning and policy development until the FAA has published their standard on vertiports,” said Alexander.
In the meantime, helicopters and heliports are still very much alive and kicking. Alexander highly encourages all state and municipality aviation professionals to do their due diligence and review the draft FAA heliport design advisory circular 2D and provide feedback to the FAA before the March 5th deadline. Here is the website: FAA