WAAS LPV Approach Reveals Expanding Helicopter Airway System

 - June 25, 2012, 4:40 PM
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's helicopter route system.

Children’s Hospital New Orleans received approval June 18 for a new helicopter WAAS LPV approach to bring arrivals down to a height above landing (HAL) of 270 feet. The new procedure allowing more precise guidance in poor weather was developed by Orange Beach, Ala.-based Hickok & Associates, right now the only developer of helicopter WAAS LPV procedures in the world, according to company president Stephen Hickok.

A retired U.S. Coast Guard H3 and Air Force T-1 Jayhawk pilot, Hickok has been involved with the FAA since the early 1990s, developing the first rotorcraft GPS approach criteria and later, in 2007, developing the first FAA-Approved WAAS LPV criteria.

Hickok’s specialty not only includes development of helicopter approaches, but also the construction of extensive networks of helicopter routes for private customers such as the system developed for Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. Hickok said, “In addition to hundreds of miles of low-altitude helicopter routes, this system includes 30 complete IFR approaches.”

Hickok said the development process for helicopters at low level is fraught with challenges. “Most heliports sit in an obstacle-rich environment, such as a large urban environment. The National Airspace System is really built for airplanes and airports, not helicopters," he said.