What do the numbers on helipads mean?
November 8, 2007 9:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm in LA on business today. I was in a partner's office and looked out at the foggy city below. I was struck by the insane number of helipads on neighboring rooftops. Then I noticed the different numbers on them. Mostly the number 10, but a couple with the number 8. Who can tell me the number relevance of helipads?
posted by FlamingBore to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Wikipedia "helipad": Rooftop helipads sometimes display a large two-digit number, representing the weight limit (in thousands of pounds) of the pad.
posted by user92371 at 9:42 PM on November 8, 2007

Response by poster: user92371 - I read that but I'm skeptical because the 8 that I see isn't 08 it's only 8. And the weight of helicopters seem to vary between 4k and 22k and yet all I could see on rooftops today was 8 or 10.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:55 PM on November 8, 2007

Best answer: no, that's not an indication of the physical size, those are weight limit markings and they are written in thousands of pounds. I am fairly certain you only saw those on rooftop pads.

a triangle is used when enviromental or safety concerns demand helicopters to land into a certain direction, a circle when the pilot is free to choose based on wind direction (you want to land into the wind when possible).

btw: most of those helipads are for fire evacuations only and not regularly used. because of the earthquakes, the fire standards for skyscrapers are quite tough in LA.

the california regulation to google here is FATO 3554 .
posted by krautland at 9:55 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

08 could be read as 80 -- hence the single-digit, I would assume....

But I know nothing of the number you speak of.
posted by liquado at 9:58 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

the most popular choppers used in the LA basin are the bell 206 (1635lb), eurocopter 350 (2582lb) and robinson 44 (1400lb). even with fuel and passengers a single-engine helicopter like the jet ranger won't go much beyond 3000lb, so 8k is plenty of allowance for them.

you're getting closer to the weight limits mentioned when you're talking about a helo like the LA fire's 205, which weighs 5323lb empty, but even with external loads that won't go much beyond 10k lbs.
posted by krautland at 10:02 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks krautland, in additional weight-based googling I was able to find this document: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/planning/aeronaut/htmlfile/lamuni-heliport.php which bears out your and user92371's notion.

Thank you both.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:03 PM on November 8, 2007

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