Helicopter operators in the USA will have greater flexibility to operate in instrument flight rule (IFR) conditions after crucial amendments to rules just issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The changes reduce the ceiling minimum for helicopters from 600ft (185m) to 400ft and the visibility minimum for precision approaches from 3.2km (1.7nm) to 1.6km. The Helicopter Association International calls it "the most significant change to come out of the FAA in the last 15 years". The association believes the changes could create $70 million in savings over the next 10 years.

The change revises alternate airport weather planning requirements, weather minima necessary to designate an airport as an alternate on an IFR flight plan, and fuel requirements for helicopter flight into IFR conditions.

Source: Flight International