Helicopter Pilots

Model Code of Conduct

Tools to advance helicopter flight
safety and professionalism

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The Helicopter Pilots Model Code of Conduct (HMCC) offers recommendations to advance helicopter flight safety, airmanship, and professionalism. The HMCC presents a vision of excellence for helicopter pilots. Its principles complement and underscore legal requirements.

Standards and regulations by themselves do not provide a framework for how to think and act in situations that may not be covered by procedures, checklists, or operating manuals. In contrast, the HMCC articulates broader guidance—a set of values—to help a pilot interpret and apply standards and regulations, and to confront the real world challenges that could lead to a mishap. The Code of Conduct is a model, not a standard.

The Code of Conduct will be most effective if users commit to the pursuit of professionalism as well as a firm grasp of the fundamentals of flight.

 The complete version of the HMCC is available at
< >.

The Code of Conduct has seven sections. Helicopter pilots are urged to review the unabridged version of the HMCC which also contains sample recommended practices—suggestions for applying the principles of the HMCC and tailoring them. This abbreviated version is intended as a quick reference.

I. General Responsibilities of Helicopter Pilots

   Helicopter pilots should:

a.     make safety the highest priority,

b.        seek excellence in airmanship,

c.        develop and exercise good judgment and sound principles of aeronautical decision-making,

d.        use sound principles of risk management to recognize and manage risks effectively,

e.        maintain situational awareness, and adhere to prudent operating practices and personal operating parameters (e.g., minimums),

f.         aspire to professionalism,

g.        act with responsibility and courtesy, and

h.        adhere to applicable laws, regulations, and industry guidance.


II. Passengers and People on the Surface

   Helicopter pilots should:

a.     maintain passenger safety first and then passenger comfort,

b.     manage (and avoid unnecessary) risk to passengers, to people and property on the surface, and to people in other aircraft,

c.     brief passengers on flight and emergency procedures, and inform them of any significant or unusual risk associated with the flight,

d.     seek to prevent unsafe conduct by passengers, and

e.     avoid operations that may alarm, disturb, or endanger passengers or people on the surface.


III. Training and Proficiency

   Helicopter pilots should:

a.       participate in regular training to maintain proficiency beyond minimum requirements,

b.       participate in flight safety education programs,

c.        remain vigilant and avoid complacency,

d.       train to recognize and deal effectively with emergencies,

e.        prepare for and review each lesson carefully, and

f.        maintain an accurate log to document training and currency.


IV. Security

   Helicopter pilots should:

a.  seek to maintain the security of all persons and property associated with their aviation activities,

b.  remain vigilant and immediately report suspicious, reckless, or illegal activities,

c.   become familiar with the latest security regulations, and

d.   avoid special-use airspace except when approved or necessary in an emergency.


V. Environmental Issues

   Helicopter pilots should:

a.   recognize and seek to mitigate the environmental impact of helicopter operations,

b.   minimize the discharge of fuel, oil, and other chemicals into the environment during refueling, preflight preparations, servicing, and flight operations,

c.   respect and protect environmentally sensitive areas,

d.   comply with applicable noise-abatement procedures and mitigate aircraft noise near noise-sensitive areas, and

e.   adhere to prudent hazardous materials handling procedures.


VI. Use of Technology

   Helicopter pilots should:

a.  become familiar with and properly use appropriate technologies,

b.  monitor applicable airport advisory frequencies and report position accurately when approaching airports without an operating control tower and other higher-risk areas,

c.   use transponders or other position-indicating technologies during flight operations, as directed by ATC. Use ATC radar advisories for VFR enroute operations,

d.  carry redundant transceivers and navigational equipment and use them in appropriate circumstances, and

e. use flight simulators and training devices as available and appropriate.


VII. Advancement and Promotion of Aviation

   Helicopter pilots should:

a.       advance and promote aviation safety and adherence to this Code of Conduct,

b.       participate in and contribute to organizations that promote aviation, and volunteer their skills to contribute to society at large—and encourage other pilots to do so as well,

c.       demonstrate appreciation for aviation professionals and service providers,

d.       advance an aviation culture that values openness, humility, positive attitudes, and the pursuit of personal improvement,

e.       promote ethical behavior within the aviation community, and

f.         mentor new and future helicopter pilots.

Additional Resources

Further information about helicopter safety is available at:

HAI:             <>

IHST:        <>

FAA:            <>, <>

AEA:          <>

AOPA:       <>

EAA:          <>

NBAA:       <>


Notice, Edits, Errata, Comments

The [insert your organization’s Code of Conduct] is a customized version of the Aviators Model Code of Conduct. ©2003-2013 Michael S. Baum. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use are available at <>.

Pilots and the aviation community may use the Code of Conduct as a resource for code of conduct development, although it is recommended that this be supported by independent research on the suitability of its principles for specific or local applications and situations. It is not intended to provide legal advice and must not be relied upon as such.

The Helicopter Pilots Model Code of Conduct is a living document, intended to be updated periodically to reflect changes in aviation practices and the aviation environment. Please send your suggestions, edits, errata, questions and comments to: <>.


The Code of Conduct has had the benefit of extensive editorial comment and suggestions by a diverse body of the aviation community, and beyond. See “Acknowledgments” at <>. The Permanent Editorial Board of the Code of Conduct is presented at <>.