Procedures for Helicopters

Helicopter procedures vary significantly from Fixed Winged, particularly when entering the ATZ. The information provided here is intended to give further guidance and advice to help.

Arriving from the South (via the Low Level Route)

You will need to follow the Manchester Low Level Route which starts just North of Ashcroft Farm Strip. The max altitude in the route is 1300 feet Manchester QNH. You can obtain a Basic Service from Manchester Approach on 118.575 mhz, though clearance to transit the route is not required. See the listening squawk information below.

Once you reach abeam Stretton VRP, you can then turn right and change to Barton Information on 120.250 mhz. As you approach the airfield, you will see a bridge across the Canal and just beyond a large Indoor Ski Slope building which is quite prominent. The M62 approaches passes about 1/2 mile North of the airfield. Barton is to the left of the canal and before the bridge by about 1/2 mile.

Helicopter Arrival Routes

There are 3 main arrival routes published for helicopters. These are designed to ensure that helicopter traffic is separated from fixed winged procedures. These are available from the AIS website.

 AIS website

Unless otherwise requested, helicopters should route via a designated point. The FISO will issued further guidance and traffic information to assist with a safe approach.

Helicopter Circuit Procedures

Helicopter circuits are flown at 500ft Barton QFE underneath the fixed wing circuit (1000ft). Approaches are made to either Heli East or Helicopter Training Area North (HTA N) with due regard to the runway in use.

Helicopter Departures

Departures should be made following instructions from the FISO. The FISO will issue instructions which may include lining up on a runway. After departure, helicopters should remain at or below 500ft until clear of the ATZ, integrating into the Helicopter Circuit patterns and should ensure the flight path avoids overflying low over any built up areas.

Helicopters should enter the ATZ not above 500ft AGL, unless joining from Irlam VRP where, for noise abatement,  helicopters may remain above 500ft (but beneath the base of the Manchester CTR), until within 1nm of the airfield when they should fly not above 500ft AGL.

Circuit Height for helicopters is 500ft Barton QFE.

Helicopter Training

Helicopter training is conducted within two defined areas which  ensure separation from the runways.

  • Helicopter Training Area North (HTA N) –  Located North of Runway 08L/26R and West of Runway 20/02 HTAN is available for hover training and circuit training.
  • Helicopter Training Area South (HTA S) – Located South of Taxiway B and West of Taxiway C HTAS  is available for  hover training only.

Helicopters must not leave the Helicopter Training Areas without the permission of the Air TRaffic Service and must gain permission to air taxy across all runways.

Pilots must not take off from anywhere on the airfield without being in receipt of the phrase ‘Take Off at Your Discretion’ from the AFISO. This includes helicopters operating in HTA N


Barton Conspicuity Squawk

Once you are in contact with Barton Information, you will be asked to squawk our Conspicuity Transponder Code. You can find details of this here.

Using the Manchester Low Level Route


To help Manchester ATC reduce zone infringements the above squawk is for use by pilots flying within 5 miles of the Manchester CTR boundary (outside it, of course!) and also monitoring Manchester Approach 118.575 Mhz just as a “listening watch” – without talking to Manchester.

  • You are asked to Squawk 7366 (Charlie if possible) to show you are listening in. Please do not talk to Manchester whilst Squawking 7366.
  • You will not be in receipt of any ATC service.
  • You cannot cross into controlled airspace.
  • You can be ‘addressed’ by Manchester Approach 118.575 Mhz if there is any reason to do so as Manchester ATC know which frequency you are listening out on!
  • Remember to Squawk 7000 (Charlie if possible) as you move further away from the boundary, or if you change to a different frequency.

To assist with navigating the Low Level Route, you can download a handy A5 size briefing form from the Fly On Track website;

 Low Level Route Brief Front

 Low Level Route Brief Back

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