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About Part 133 Operations

Helicopter external load operation means
(1) a helicopter external load towing operation; or
(2) a helicopter sling load operation; or
(3) a helicopter winching operation; or
(4) a helicopter rappelling operation:

External load, McGraw-Hill definition:
i. A load carried, or extended, outside the aircraft fuselage (e.g., weapons, fuel tanks).
ii. A load carried by helicopter or floatplane outside its fuselage. These are normally carried by slings, which are suspended below the helicopter and are referred to as slung loads or attached rigidly to the airframe.




Who Needs Part 133 Certification?

Those who will perform helicopter external load towing operations by means of towing, lowering, and laying down of external cargo, that remains in contact with the ground during the operation, by a helicopter; and,
For those performing helicopter sling load operations by mean of external carriage, lowering, or picking up, of a load, cargo, or passengers by a helicopter by means of a bucket, net, harness, sling, or stretcher, suspended beneath the helicopter.


How to Apply for Part 133 Certification

Application and approval for the United States is through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In other countries, such as New Zealand and Canada for example, the application is handled by the local Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). They have the same basic requirements.

Summary of FAA Part 133 requirements:
1) Exclusive use of at least 1 aircraft;
2) The aircraft equipment must be approved for the type of operation(s);
3) The pilot must be training for the operation;
4) Additional safety requirements must be complied with concerning the type, route and pick up/landing areas.


How to Apply for Part 133 Certification

The application details are located in the 14 CFR Part 133, FAA Inspector guidance FSIMs Chapter 51, and Advisory Circular AC-133-1A (as revised). Once you have established that you meet the Equipment and Personnel requirements above you need to complete the application process in accordance with the applicable rules as it pertains to your external lift missions. At minimum you will need:

1) FAA Application Form 8710-4
2) Rotorcraft Load Combination Flight Manual
3) Training Program

These applications, and any other documents that the FAA Inspector requests, then end up with your operating documents. The Operating Certificate and Operations Specifications are the main core approval documents from the FAA.


The 'Part 133 Manual'

The largest of the documents is the Rotorcraft-Load Combination Flight Manual, also known as the Part 133 manual. Content, instructions, and FAA specifications for the RLCFM are outlined in subpart G of 14 CFR parts 27 and 29, and 14 CFR §§ 133.41, 133.43, 133.45, and 133.47. Subpart G requires that operating limitations and other information necessary for safe operation be established and made available to the crewmembers.

1) The RLCFM should state the operating limitations, normal and emergency procedures, performance, and other such information from subpart G of either part 27 or 29, whichever is applicable.

2) Title 14 CFR § 133.47(b) requires the RLCFM to set forth the Classes (A, B, C, D) for which airworthiness of the rotorcraft has been demonstrated.

3) The RLCFM must include a section that gives the following information:
a) information on any peculiarities discovered when operating with particular rotorcraft load combinations;
b) precautionary advice about static electricity discharges for Class B and D loads;
c) procedures for computation of lateral and longitudinal center of gravity (CG), if not adequately described in the RFM (the applicant usually must compute the lateral CG for each class, when lateral information is available); and
d) any other information considered essential for safe operation which external-loads should be included.

4) The RLCFM must have a list of the maximum airspeeds and weights that were demonstrated while performing operational flight checks conducted by the manufacturer or the operator.

The above information should get you well on your way, but be sure to obtain the most current FAA guidance and CFRs.



How to Order

ACCG would be glad to assist you with your Part 133 certification. Our service includes all the required FAA paperwork, and a fully customized RLCFM.

Please fill out the Service Order Form to get started. For questions call 561-373-5962.




These are approximates prices for a mid sized helicopter operator.

Part 133 Certification Assistance

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