Approach Helicopter Safely

Safe Approach

A safe approach should:

  • Avoid both the front and back of the helicopter
  • Allow the pilot to clearly see your approach

When possible, always approach the helicopter from the green zone.

If necessary, approach from the side or the front.

Always keep the pilot in view and be sure the pilot can see you.


If may be appropriate to use a different approach angle when:

  • Slope – due to slope it may be more appropriate to approach from the side
  • Terrain or Obstacles – makes it safer to approach from a different angle

Safe Approach Zones

Never approach from the rear

If you need to go around to the other side of the helicopter – NEVER EVER go around the back


Safe Approach Protocol

To ensure a safe approach, you should follow the protocol below:

1.     Make eye contact with the pilot.

2.     Give the pilot a thumbs up signal to indicate you are ready to approach the helicopter.

3.     Only approach the helicopter when the pilot has made eye contact with you and clearly given you a thumbs up sign or a clear and distinctive nod of the head.

4.     If you have a helmet, then wear it.  If you have a hat, remove it and put it away (put it in a bag, or tuck it into your clothing).

5.     Make sure any loose items (coats, books, etc.) are secured (put in a bag, tucked into your clothing).

6.     Any long items are carried horizontally, e.g. fishing rods, spade, bags.

7.     Do not carry anything higher than your head.  Do not carry anything on your shoulders and beware of the height of back packs.

8.     Crouch (bend approximately 45°) as you approach the helicopter.

approach1 approach2

Beware the Slope of the Ground

Always approach and depart a helicopter down slope.

  • Hats should be held on, tied on or put away
  • Loose items like coats should be worn or put away in a bag
  • Any long items should be carried horizontally

Always crouch down …

…it is not un-cool or un-manly to crouch –
it is just plain stupid if you do not.




What to consider when you approach a helicopter:

Rotor Blades / Disc

Are they turning?


  • Approach from the downward slope up to the helicopter.


  • Has the pilot seen you?
  • Has he clearly nodded at you, while clearly looking at you? or
  • Given you a thumbs up sign?

Hats and Loose Items

  • Are all loose items secured (put them away, hold onto them tightly, tied them on/down).

Carry on Baggage

  • Follow instructions when stowing carry on baggage.
  • Make sure it cannot slip/slide or get in anyone’s way.

Down Drafts

  • Beware of dust / debris getting in your eyes or stinging you.
  • Beware of children who may find the down draft very distressing.
  • Use sunglasses and/or your hand to protect your eyes.