Airspace and Operational Impacts Study

Cardno provided an airspace and operational impacts study for the rooftop helipad at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH), a Level One Trauma Facility, in downtown Philadelphia.

A neighboring residential tower proposed development that would interfere with the hospital’s ability to operate the helipad safely and properly. When the proposed additions to the tower that is located diagonally from the helipad atop the residential building became a hot button issue, TJUH contacted Cardno. Cardno quickly assembled a team to support TJUH in their deliberations with the residential developer. Safety issues of most concern that were addressed:

  • Annual Landings on the helipad
  • Prevailing Winds and Wind Rose
  • Visual Flight Rules
    • Wind Direction and Speed
    • Landing Orientation
    • Standard Operating Procedure
  • Wind Turbulence Around Buildings
  • Alternative Flight Corridor Analysis

Additional support was provided to TJUH on the evaluation of multiple architectural designs of the residential tower leading the developer to ultimately comply with Cardno’s height analysis. 

Cardno recommended that an overlay height zoning ordinance be pursued with the City of Philadelphia to address potential safety risks posed by high-rise buildings to TJUH’s helipad in Center City, Philadelphia. The height zoning ordinance would address limiting the heights of the proposed development to avoid potential obstructions to flight operations within and adjacent to the approved flight corridors and would require developers seeking a variance from proposed height limitations to obtain an independent study of the proposed development on TJUH’s helipad operations further assuring TJUH had an opportunity to comment to any proposed variance during the planning and zoning approval/permitting process.

As a result of Cardno’s work with TJUH and the City Planning Commission of Philadelphia, the overlay height zoning ordinance and accompanying zoning map for Center City, Philadelphia was successfully adopted by the City Council in July 2021.

> Project detail for Airspace and Operational Impacts Study