A defined area over which the final phase of the approach manoeuvre to hover or landing is completed and from which the take-off manoeuvre is commenced. Where the FATO is to be used by performance Class 1 helicopters, the defined area includes the rejected take-off area available.
Source: ICAO Doc 8168 PAS-OPS
A FATO is an area over which a helicopter completes the approach manoeuvre to a hover or landing or commences movement into forward flight in the take-off manoeuvre. All final approaches terminate and all take-offs to climb start there. A heliport must be provided with at least one FATO, which need not be solid. It may be located on or near a runway strip or taxiway strip.
The FATO provides an area free of obstacles. It may be any shape but it must comply with the size and slope requirements of relevant documents, e.g. ICAO Annex 14 and Doc 9261. These include provisions regarding nearby areas such as a safety area and protected side slope(s). FATO length may need to be carefully considered especially in less dense air locations (i.e. high altitude or high temperature) where aircraft performance during take off and landing could be limited.
The FATO may (but not always does) include a touchdown area as sometimes it is preferable for the helicopter to hover and then air-taxi to a more desirable location for touchdown. Similarly, a helicopter may lift off from its parked location and air-taxi to the FATO where it assumes the hover before commencing the take-off manoeuvre. However, the surface must be able to withstand an emergency landing having in mind the heaviest helicopter for which it is intended.
A touchdown may or may not be made on the FATO. It may be preferable to come to the hover and then air-taxi to a more desirable location for touchdown, Similarly, a helicopter may lift off from its parked location and air-taxi to the FATO where it assumes the hover before commencing the take-off manoeuvre.
- ICAO Annex 14 Aerodromes, Vol II. Heliports
- ICAO Doc 8168 PANS-OPS, Vol. II
- ICAO Doc 9261 Heliport Manual