Helicopter Dolly Operations and Safe Procedures

Do you fly to a Dolly?

If you use a Dolly regularly or only every now and then, this Training Safety Bulletin is for you. Here you will find a revision of procedures and safety tips to ensure you complete your operation in the safest manner. Let’s get started.

Pre-flight the dolly

Are the surface, wheels, tongue, attachments & chocks in serviceable condition?

What chocking, immobilization system is used to secure the dolly for operations?

Key References

The key to safe and proper dolly operations is having the references to place the aircraft on the dolly in the proper position. Note the position of the helicopter on the dolly. Is the position as desired and correct?

While sitting in the PIC/any pilot station -take references for fore/aft-left right position to return to!

Awareness of the elements to avoid dynamic roll over should be considered when lifting off from the dolly. Smooth and slow is the key with a vertical lift off.

Move away from the dolly. In case of engine failure, land on the ground. Do not attempt to land on the dolly.

When approaching the dolly for landing, verify it is in the same position as when you departed. Note wind speed and direction.

If the dolly was repositioned, verify chocks are correct for immobilization.

Stabilize 3-5 feet above and behind and then fly forward and down to the previously referenced position. Think of this as the lower portion of an approach to the ground. Reduce the collective and throttle smoothly, especially the throttle while checking for dolly rotation.

After shutdown, note the aircraft position on the dolly. Did your selected reference points work?

Many pilots offered the opportunity to land on a dolly for the first time make the same error. They fly over the dolly losing all references to the dolly and then try to descend while not having any reference to the dolly below them!

This shows a lack of perception in what the task requires. It sets them up to fail and creates hazards and risks that can be fatal.

Not having reference points about the proper position of the helicopter on the dolly should spark the decision to not attempt a landing and a No-Go, or non-attempt as good ADM. Consider this as a Go Around or rejected landing option! ADM used in a hover.

Training for dolly landings should be set up 3-5' above & behind to fly the helicopter forward and down to the known referenced point.

One method that can be used for dolly landing training is to use a portion of runway numbers to represent the dolly, like part of a number 5 and then practice the stabilized 3 & 3 or 5 & 5 position to forward and down.

This is a safe training environment and produces task perceptive pilots. This can show the effects of various wind scenarios & levels of difficulty and controllability recognition.

Sound Aeronautical Decision Making
processes for dolly operations should include the steps of:

  • Pre-flight,
  • Pre-take off referencing for return.
  • Skill sets to avoid dynamic roll over.
  • Considerations for emergencies just after liftoff.
  • Immobilization security prior to landing.
  • Stabilization 3-5' above and behind, flying forward and down to the referenced position.
  • Smoothly lowering the collective and slowly reducing the throttle.

This document is a peer reviewed publication by an expert panel of the USHST Training Working Group. 


Posted on Sunday, February 28, 2016 (Archive on Monday, January 01, 0001)
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