The presence of a helideck on a superyacht is the epitome of luxury and offers the ultimate in convenience and practicality. Helicopters are an advantageous, time-saving, stylish and safe means of transportation and have become increasingly popular additions to superyachts.

Whether it’s for the arrival of charter guests or to hop to shore for a day trip without the need for a lengthy tender ride, having the option of using your own onboard helicopter is incredibly attractive.

While a superyacht helideck can make life much easier for owners, guests and crew members, there are regulations that must be met in order for the deck to be fully functional. In this article, we’re going to take you through some of the helideck regulations required and provide you with helpful additional information on the topic.


Commercial and private helipads

There are different rules and regulations that need to be followed depending on the use of a superyacht helideck. Overall, helidecks that are for private use only adhere to less stringent rules, but nonetheless, they must still be fully certified in order to be used.

A commercially used superyacht helipad must be constructed and operated in line with the requirements of either Solas requirements for Passenger Ships less than 36 Passengers (Chapter II-2, Reg. 18, part G); LY3 MSN 1792 (M) Latest Edition or REG YC, (LYC and PYC for older yachts) and best industry practice.. A helideck is considered commercial if it receives commercial charter helicopters, or transports charter guests. This means that even if a yacht is being used privately then a commercial charter helicopter cannot land unless the vessel has been certified. The only exceptions to this rule come in the form of a medical emergency or in the case of an evacuation.


Superyacht helideck inspections and certification

HCA provides assistance to the yachting industry from the very start of the process, offering initial advice on the design, layout and location of the helideck. Understanding the importance of avoiding future issues and alterations, HCA closely liaises with naval architects and shipyards and continues to offer its knowledge throughout the building process. We then conduct comprehensive annual helideck inspections to ensure all regulations are being met and that the helideck is being maintained to the correct standard. We then issue a certificate of compliance stating that the helideck is safe for helicopter operations. We are recognised by the Red Ensign Group and the Bahamas Maritime Authority to conduct helideck inspections on any of their registered vessels.

It’s also important to note that there must be relevant crew training in helicopter operations.

While helidecks on superyachts are extremely useful, some yacht owners are more concerned about the aesthetics of a helideck rather than whether or not it meets regulations. Understandably, the safety of helideck staff, crew members, and guests comes before what the vessel looks like. Having said that, a helideck is a statement feature of any superyacht and it’s possible to have it looking great and compliant with all regulations.


Helideck training

HCA offers Dangerous Goods by Air Awareness training, courtesy of an online eLearning course that is available directly through its website. This is a prerequisite for all deck crew involved in the helicopter operation as it provides an overview of what is classed as dangerous goods, and the rules for handling and transporting them in a helicopter. This can be used to train the superyacht helideck crew and ensure they are fully up-to-date with all aspects of the required safety procedures and regulations.

There are fewer training requirements on board a private yacht compared to a commercial vessel, but there are minimum standards. That being said, it’s recommended that the crew on both types of superyachts are trained to the same standard, therefore increasing the level of safety. We feel it’s imperative that crew members have an excellent working knowledge of helideck operations and can put these into practice on a daily basis.

Competency assessments are another way in which the skills of a crew can be assessed and safety can be improved. These also help in building the confidence of operators because it’s a great time for them to ask questions and benefit from the experience of the assessors themselves.  

If you would like any more information on the services we provide or would like to speak to a member of our expert team, contact us today.

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