Policy Letter 145


Helicopter landings and take-offs within the built-up areas of cities and towns.

File Number

5240-9-4 (AARXB)



Policy Statement

The purpose of this Policy Letter is to provide Commercial &Business Aviation Inspectors with guidance when issuing authorities for landings and take-offs of helicopters under Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) 702.22 and 703.36.


This policy applies to Rotorcraft Inspectors who are responsible for approving landings and take-offs of helicopters within the built-up areas.


CAR 702.22 Built-up Area and Aerial Work Zone;

Commercial Air Service Standard (CASS) 722.22 Built-up Area and Aerial Work Zone;

CAR 703.36 Minimum Altitudes and Distances;

CASS 723.36 Minimum Altitudes and Distances.


Quality Assurance Reviews have identified instances where authorities under CAR 703.36 for landings and take?offs have been issued where the proposed landing area was not within the built-up area of a city or town.


The terms "city" or "town" are taken to mean a municipal entity incorporated as such. There are former towns, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, which have been absorbed by either townships or municipalities. These do not meet the current definition of "city" or "town" and authorities under CAR 702.22 or 703.36 should not be issued for these. Within the Province of Nova Scotia, "regional municipalities" shall be considered to be cities.

There is a significant body of jurisprudence regarding the interpretation of what constitutes "built-up", most of which is in the context of low flying violations. In general, "built-up" means a group of structures that are erected or elevators, service stations and so forth. A departmental legal opinion indicates that a dock could be considered such a structure, particularly if it can be shown that there is a risk of damage to property or injury to persons. In situations where there is some doubt, it is better to err on the side of caution and issue an authorization.

The word "within" in this context has been interpreted to mean substantially surrounded by the built-up area. In practical terms this would mean that a landing site would have to be surrounded on all four sides or at least to the point that a landing aircraft would overfly a structure at some point, or fly close enough to create a hazard. As an example, a landing site on the edge of a town or on a shoreline would not require an authorization if the landing could be accomplished without overflying a structure or creating a hazard to any property.

Both CAR 702.22 and 703.36 allow for an Operations Specification to be issued giving landing authority on a more or less permanent basis. This should only be issued in exceptional circumstances and never to allow an air operator to avoid certifying a site which normally is required to be certified under CAR 602.13. If this Operations Specification is to be issued, the site should be such that it would meet the standard for certification with only minor modification. Aerodrome Safety should be consulted to ensure that this is possible.

Of particular concern are areas near hospitals within built-up areas, which are utilized occasionally for air ambulance operations. A recent legal opinion has determined that these areas meet the definition of a "place set apart for the operation of aircraft". This effectively precludes such landing sites from being used under the saving of human life provision in subsection 602.13(2) of the CARs. In such cases Aerodrome Safety may issue an aerodrome authorization, which would allow occasional use without requiring full certification. This process is still being developed and further policy will be issued.

Future Disposition

This Policy Letter shall remain in effect until an appropriate amendment is made to the Air Carrier Inspector Manual.

Reference Number

This Policy Letter is designated AARX No. 145.

Michel Gaudreau
Acting Director
Commercial &Business Aviation

Date modified: