textual image stating 'Department of Health, Victoria, Australia'

Hospital heliport flight path protection


Emergency helicopters play a key role in providing medical and trauma services to patients who are critically ill or who may be involved in serious accidents.

To maintain the integrity of this essential part of the health system, flightpaths into Victoria’s public hospitals have been protected through Design and Development Overlays (Overlays) in local planning schemes.

The Overlays do not introduce a mandatory height limit. Instead, the Overlay triggers a need for a council planning permit for certain buildings and works. All permit applications which trigger the Overlay are referred to the department, which will assess each referral on merit. Where the proposed development does not affect emergency medical services helicopter flights, the development is likely to be supported, or supported with conditions.

Guidance on planning

Information regarding the Victorian planning system including the operation of planning controls and referral provisions is available on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website www.delwp.vic.gov.au/planning.

All Victorian planning schemes are available online at http://planning-schemes.delwp.vic.gov.au/schemes.

If you unable to access your planning scheme online, please contact your local council statutory planning department.

Guidance on hospital heliport flight path protection

The Department of Health and Human Services has prepared guidance on the application of the overlays for hospital heliport flight path protection.

The guidance addresses why flightpaths are protected, the impact of cranes and plumes, permit exemptions, how the department assesses applications and example referral responses the department may require on any planning permits.

Answers to frequently asked questions are also available.

Obstacle limitation surface

The obstacle limitation surface is the height of the flightpath above ground level, in Australian Height Datum (AHD), that must not be penetrated. By protecting the helipad’s obstacle limitation surface, helicopter operations can be safely maintained in accordance with applicable guidelines and international standards.

The obstacle limitation surface commences at the edge of the helipad and extends horizontally along a flat plane equivalent to the height of the helipad for 240 metres. From this point, the obstacle limitation surface gradually rises along the flightpath at an angle of 4.5 per cent. The further you are from the helipad, the higher the obstacle limitation surface.

The trigger heights in the Overlays and the obstacle limitation surface are not the same. The trigger heights in the Overlay are used by local councils to assess whether a permit is required. The obstacle limitation surface is what the department uses to assess whether a proposal will impact a hospital helipad flightpath.

Knowing the height of the obstacle limitation surface along a flightpath may assist when determining if a proposal may impact on a hospital heliport. Where the obstacle limitation surface is available in a readily accessible format, they are provided below in Appendix C of each technical report.

Metropolitan helipads technical reports

Regional helipads technical reports

For those organisations which want to view obstacle limitation surfaces within geographic information systems, or in CAD (an architectural computer software package) shape and .dwg files are available below.

Metropolitan helipads shape and CAD files

Rural helipads shape and CAD files

Details of the obstacle limitation surfaces for the following helipads are not available in a readily accessible format: Ballarat Base Hospital, Cowes Reserve, Dandenong Hospital, Kilmore Hospital, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Leongatha Hospital, Seymour Hospital, University Hospital Geelong, Wonthaggi Hospital and Yarram Reserve. The department is investigating whether the relevant details of these helipads can be provided.

Construction management plans

The Department of Health and Human Services may require, through a permit condition, the development of a Flight Path Crane Construction Management Plan where a crane has the potential to affect helicopter operations.

Where a Flight Path Crane Construction Management Plan is required, the Department of Health and Human Services generally requires approval in writing of the plan prior to the commencement of any development.

The attached template is to be used as the basis for preparing all Flight Path Crane Construction Management Plans required by the department through a permit condition.

Further information

For further information, please contact your local council statutory planning department or the Department of Health and Human Services at:

Manager Property
Department of Health and Human Services
GPO Box 4541
(03) 9096 2119