S.W.O.R.D. Checklist for Helicopter Landing Zones:

S - Size, Surface, Slope.

Size matters when it comes landing zones, and in all cases, bigger is better.
Surface - what type? grass, asphalt, loose gravel, snow, pasture, corn field, etc
Slope - how much? 2 - 3 degrees, 3-5 degrees, 5-10 degrees, and in what direction? East to West, North to South, etc

W - Winds

Always report direction winds are coming from and estimated speed. Example: Winds are out of the North at 10 knots or Winds are 360 degrees at 10 knots.

O - Obstacles

Report all obstacles inside the landing area cones or flares as well as any obstacles within two miles of the landing zone - example: trees, wires, cell phone towers, soccer nets, goal posts, fences, back stops, etc.

R - Route

Best route into and out of the landing zone for the helicopter. Example: Best approach is from the North to the South, or best approach is from the Southeast

D - Double Check

Double check everything, especially the stuff on the checklist. Did I find and brief all the obstacles? Do I have a good exit plan from the landing zone? Do I know the winds? Did I brief my team?


The Emergency Medical Services Flight Safety Network
- Improving the air medical industry one professional at a time

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to improve this checklist? Thanks in advance.

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