Helicopter Pad for Commercial Operations

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by aircoastal, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. aircoastal
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    aircoastal Junior Member

    Greetings,

    First if I happen to use any terms that make it seem like I know anything about boats please disregard as I have only picked them up by browsing this form and other internet research.

    I have for a long time wanted to have built a vessel to conduct helicopter operations from. I know I will need to have this done by a building firm but each seem to have their own special types of hulls and I am sure that each could make a case as to why I should have their type of hull. So before I take the next step I thought I would solicit some opinions here on what might the best type of hull to go with.

    The vessel I envision would be roughly 80' length and 24' beam. These are not firm however I am trying to ensure that when the helicopter is running nothing or very little extends beyond the vessel. The typical helicopter would have a rotor diameter of 33' and a lengthy of 38' however occasionally this might go to 44' rotor and 50' length. Practically speaking a lot of the helicopter could hang over the water thereby reducing the deck requirements by as much as 50% but as I said in the interest of safety I would prefer to keep as much of the helicopter protected as possible.

    The deck from stern to bow would be flat, there would be provisions for fuel supply for both the vessel and the helicopter below deck. The landing area would be aft and the vessel would be operated from the bow area. The bow area would have enclosed passenger (up to 20) and crew area spanning most of the beam but only a depth of 10' feet or so or what every was available in overall length to give the helicopter rotor at least 10' of clearance to the structure. It would be at least 2 story and have some live aboard accommodations for a crew of 2

    The bow would have a roro ramp in the center and the passenger/crew structure would be open in the center a sufficient width to allow drive on to pass through to the helideck. On each side of the ro-ro ramp there would be gangways for walking aboard. On each side of the passenger/crew structure their would be spuds to anchor the vessel which would be no further aft than the structure so as not to present a problem for the rotor blades. All of these items would preferably be operated by the captain from the helm.

    Weight of the largest helicopter and fuel supply for the helicopters and maximum passengers estimate is 30,000 lbs.

    Performance wise I would like to see at least a 100nm range and any speed between 3 and 10 kts. Stability at rest is important however the use would predominantly be in the ICW on South Florida East Coast. Maybe an occasional foray into the ocean if conditions permitted.

    The things I have looked at so far:

    Converting a barge: even though i don't need its weight capacity maybe its weight would enhance stability.

    Pontoon type barge or boat: seems overall lighter to me but not sure of its stability and performance in the ICW.

    Catamaran type such as ones commercially built for tour boats: Looks like it has a performance advantage over other types of pontoon floats still overall lighter than the barge concept.

    I guess if you pictured a landing craft with a deck and the bow ramp connected there and a structure on the bow with helm and such it would be a visual of what I want to accomplish.

    Hopefully I have covered the major design element requirements for some of you to suggest which type of hull i should be looking at.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Westfield 11
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    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    Can we assume that you have looked into all the legal requirements for a helipad? Lights, obstacle clearance, etc. also your liability insurer may want some input too. It would be a shame to have make changes after you had built the thing.

    You might want to also look into any special requirements for storing aviation fuel too. I know there are rules that govern the type of pumps used for Jet fuel on offshore oil rigs, there maybe similar rules for what you plan to do.

    What is your budget? I would venture that new construction to the appropriate rules and regulations to be at least several millions. If you build from steel the materials alone would hundreds of thousands......

    I hope you don't plan to operate anywhere near people's homes. There is no more offensive and annoying noise than helo noise. And I speak as an A&P with decades of experience including helo operations offshore in the Gulf, in Saudi Arabia and for Star Wars on the Marshall Islands. I can imagine the response if you took off and landed near private homes while anchored on a quiet bend on the ICW: you might be legal, but you won't be very popular! Actually a boat the size you describe might have problems on the ICW with a 10' draft as well as a two story or more air draft. Lots of low bridges there.....
     
  3. aircoastal
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    aircoastal Junior Member

    Westfield- thanks for your input! yes I am very familiar with the regulations and design requirements for the helipad itself and the fueling system as it applies to off shore and vessels.

    As far as budget I have no idea yet what this might cost. I hope not as much as you project but part of the process will be to narrow down the design and materials by which I can get a cost estimate.

    I may have said something wrong in the original post that indicated a 10' draft but that would certainly not be desirable it should be a little as possible. The 10' I referred to was meant to be the length of the passenger area starting at the bow and going toward the stern so it would end up being an area 24' X 10' or something like that.

    As far as operational noise considerations we always take that into account and use a "fly neighborly" attitude.
     
  4. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    I am a little confused about the mission for this. If it's just to be a mobile helicopter pad or a transportation vehicle, yacht, supply stop, mobile fuel bunker... It would be very simple to convert a self powered barge into a refueling stop, the roro capabilities may be more difficult in this case than the helicopter issues.

    You have basically given a few very specific criteria with out first spelling out the general usage. Much like painting an eyeball and expecting people to fill in the rest of the canvass. Can you give a general overview of the intent, and restrictions first.
     
  5. aircoastal
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    aircoastal Junior Member

    Stumble:I guess it would be best described and a mobile helicopter pad the transportation element would be as an example embarking passengers at shore or dock and then having a helicopter land on it in open water in order to continue the passenger transportation to their destination or in reverse. The on board fueling would enable multiple helicopter missions without returning to the airport such as the case of taking several of the passengers on short tour rides and returning them to the vessel. Passenger amenities and comfort level on the vessel would not be that of a yacht but more like a 1 hr day cruise pontoon boat. IE bench seating etc.

    The ro-ro is a bit of a luxury item in that an individual client might be able to drive on park and be transported away and back by helicopter to their waiting car similar to the airport. And or to service the helicopter and fuel supply.
     
  6. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    aircoastal


    Well, you need to get yourself a copy of CAP 437. Once you read these rules, you'll see you're going to need a much bigger boat to ensure the safety of the vessel and crew for helo operations on a vessel.
     
  7. aircoastal
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    aircoastal Junior Member

    Ad Hoc: I have read and used that document for reference and found some good things in it. However regulatory wise it is applicable to the CAA and UK registered aircraft which is not the case here in the US. My intent would be to have a safe vessel and operation that exceeds the USCG and FAA design requirements.
     
  8. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    And that is what CAP437 provides; it is used by the offshore industry too.

    Well, if you have read it, you'll find it is inconsistent with your SOR:

    Would not satisfy CAP437 and im pretty sure it would not USCG too.
     
  9. aircoastal
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    aircoastal Junior Member

    Agreed it is used as a standard for the offshore oil and gas industry worldwide. Such as the FAA has standards for both public and private use facilities which are different in their requirements. Off shore heliports for the Oil industry could be more closely aligned with public use requirements even though you need permission to land there a multitude of different companies use the facilities. CAP 437 is specifically for the off shore oil and gas industry standards. My project is more aligned with a private use facility or say a private yacht. We have operations here using something as small as a 16 X 30 floating "dock" which is licensed as a vessel to conduct these type of operations. Granted however their "vessels" do not include fuel storage or passenger seating so I know the safety requirements would be and should be higher.
     
  10. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    A helicopter that floats? ie. pontoons attached to the chopper.

    Poida
     
  11. aircoastal
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    aircoastal Junior Member

    Poida: Actually I already have that capability, in this case the boat floats (hopefully) and the helicopter lands on it.
     
  12. keysdisease
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    keysdisease Senior Member

    There are "shadow yachts" that are support vessels for mega yachts. These typically have helipads, sometimes hangers, and carry the "toys" for the yacht as she "shadows" her path.

    There are several companies that manufacture these vessels, Shadow and Amels come immediately to mind. Then there are plenty of OSV's (offshore supply vessels) that may already have a helipad that are available on the used market that could be refit very reasonably.

    http://www.shadowmarine.com/
     
  13. aircoastal
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    aircoastal Junior Member

    Keysdisease: thanks, and wow those shadow yachts are something. I guess the saying about one mans dingy is another mans yacht holds true there.
     
  14. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Have you considered a flat top deck for helicopter operations over the house, with the wheel at the forward end of the house?
     

  15. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    Lowest cost will be to refit an existing barge, and either hire or buy a small tug to move it.
    If you must build something a steel catamaran platform with small tug would be the fastest/easiest to move.
     
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