Dispatch has just called: a helicopter has landed unexpectedly in a local park. The pilot had not requested prior permission to do so. What are you likely to find when you arrive?
You’re likely to find a pilot, possibly with passengers, who opted to make a precautionary landing because something just wasn’t right with the flight. Perhaps the weather turned more quickly than forecast. Maybe winds were stronger so he was burning more fuel than planned for. Maybe a warning light came on. Or perhaps either he or his passengers started to feel poorly during the flight.
For a pilot, a precautionary landing is the equivalent of a driver pulling off to the shoulder. It’s something you do before a situation becomes an emergency. And it’s the responsible, professional thing to do.
The Pilot’s Responsibility for Safety
Simply put, by U.S. federal regulation, pilots are the final authority regarding the safety of a flight. The FAA and regulators in other countries give pilots wide latitude when it comes to the safety of the people aboard their aircraft and on the ground below.
Choosing to Land
When in the course of a precautionary landing a helicopter lands unexpectedly in your jurisdiction, you may have to check out the scene. But because that pilot put safety first, you won’t have to pull up at a crash scene. The precautionary landing is the single best way to break an accident chain.
How First Responders Can Help
If you are dispatched to the scene of a precautionary landing, you can help secure the scene and maintain public safety.