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Developed and maintained by the NFCC

Control measure

Manage the safety and security of take-off and landing areas for aircraft

Control measure knowledge

Suitable landing areas provide aircraft and unmanned aircraft with a safe and convenient base from which aerial operations can be provided and supported. If aerial assets are requested, it is useful if the incident commander and/or aerial sector commander can assist pilots of aircraft and unmanned aircraft in identifying potentially suitable take-off and landing areas. While the ultimate responsibility for selecting a suitable take-off and landing area will be with the pilot, the responsibility for managing the safety and security of take-off and landing areas will be with the incident commander and/or aerial sector commander.

Helicopters and other aircraft often attract onlookers who may inadvertently put themselves and/or the aircraft in danger. It is essential that the incident commander or aerial sector commander considers how members of the public and other personnel will be controlled and prevented from entering the landing area. Cones and tape are not appropriate for creating a cordon, so the safest and most effective means of control may be deploying personnel to prevent unauthorised people accessing the landing area.

If military aircraft are being deployed, the task of identifying an appropriate landing area will be the responsibility of the military liaison officer. The incident commander and/or aerial sector commander should ensure there is close co-operation and information sharing between the fire and rescue service and the military liaison officer.

Ideally take-off and landing areas should:

  • Be large enough to accommodate all aircraft that may need to use it
  • Be on level ground that is dry and firm
  • Have a compact surface - sandy and gritty soil types should be avoided
  • Wherever possible, have an approach that is free of flight hazards such as high vegetation, transmission towers (pylons), overhead power lines, and other structures
  • Consider that helicopter pilots prefer to land into the wind
  • Be located near to a road or track as this will assist in the provision of fuel and other supplies
  • Be close to a water supply that can be used to replenish the aircraft's firefighting systems
  • Have their location provided in the form of a grid reference to pilots and other personnel

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Clear all debris from the surrounding area, to reduce the likelihood of flying debris that may cause injury or damage
  • Ensure vehicles are parked a sufficient distance away from the take-off and landing area
  • Ensure that firefighting equipment is made ready but kept outside of the take-off and landing area
  • Ensure that cones and tape are not used to mark or cordon off the take-off and landing area, as these can represent a significant hazard to aircraft
  • Clear debris from landing areas and avoid the use of cones and tape to mark cordons