Helicopter Tours

Take a flight above the ice of the Weddell Sea or Ross Sea and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Antarctic wilderness.

Helicopter Tours

Helicopter Tours in Antarctica

On selected Ortelius voyages we use helicopters to get even closer to the heart of untouched wildlife, allowing to set foot onto some of the world's most remote landscapes. Take a flight above the ice of the Weddell Sea or Ross Sea and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Antarctic wilderness.

Helicopter Operation & procedures

Before flights (and sometimes before entering the helicopter), you will be briefed on the location and use of the following equipment:

  • Seat belts
  • Life jackets, which must not be removed until instructed.
  • Life rafts
  • Survival equipment
  • Emergency escape hatches

When we have a helicopter ship born operation, all passengers will receive a mandatory helicopter briefing prior to the operation getting started. Anyone who doesn’t attend the mandatory briefing is not allowed to board the helicopter. During this briefing the Pilot, Expedition Leader (EL) and the Deck Party Officer (DPO) will instruct you on the procedures during helicopter operations.

Normal procedure is that you will be divided in groups of 4 or 6 (depending on seats in the helicopter). We do understand that some people prefer to fly together, but this is not always possible. We cannot have empty seats because of time restraints, and passenger weight is something we need to take into consideration as well. So when you will receive your group number this cannot be changed. Please listen carefully to announcements when your group is being called by the administrator.

As a requirement of the helicopter insurance policy all people that will board the helicopter will need to sign the waiver form. A person who doesn’t sign the waiver will not be allowed to fly. It is also an acknowledgement that you understand that helicopter operations are special and require extra caution.

A dry run with your group will be made while practicing the whole procedure. This will include being called to the muster station, dress properly, walk the route to the helicopter and enter the helicopter (when on deck, but without running engines). You will experience that helicopter operations are time-consuming. Before we can start with transferring passengers a recognizance flight will be made and when a suitable landing site on shore has been found, safety equipment needs to be transferred. Please be patient and stay clear from the helicopter operation area. After the dry run and after the first actual helicopter operation we will have a recap where you can discuss your experience. 

Helicopter landings, how does it work?

You will be briefed and receive a thorough explanation of the General information for passengers.

General information

  • Our ship, M/V Ortelius is registered in the Netherlands and Classed by Lloyds Register of Shipping. These authorities verify yearly that we comply with the international regulations with regards to safety, environmental impact as well as ship structure.
  • The helicopter deck and its related facilities onboard Ortelius have been fully approved by Lloyds Register of Shipping.
  • Helicopter facilities onboard passenger ships are not common and do require strict rules and regulations. This information leaflet is part of the Shipboard Helicopter Operation Plan which is part of the Ship’s Management System.
  • The purpose of this information is to inform you about the do’s and don’ts as well as to describe the general helicopter procedure, crew and staff duties during helicopter operations and describe the flow of passengers when we are operating helicopters.
  • It is of the utmost importance that you fully understand the procedure, you will also be briefed about the procedure but should you after reading and after being briefed still have any questions, please do approach the staff.
  • The helicopter deck is located on the aft side of the vessel on deck 6. When not in use the helicopters will be stored inside the shelter/hangar. Please stay clear of this area and do not touch the helicopters while stored.

Instructions for entering a helicopter

Please make yourself aware of and comply with the instructions set out below to ensure a safe and expeditious operation. These instructions are also displayed in several positions on board the ship.


  • Do not approach or leave from the helicopter without being cleared to do so by the DPO, who will himself have received clearance for this from the helicopter crew.
  • When approaching or leaving the helicopter loading door, always adopt a crouching posture. You should walk briskly but not run. Keep within the safe approach sector of the helicopter and always keep in full view of the helicopter pilot or crewman. No clothing should be worn that is loose or could become detached or entangled during the transfer operation.
  • Keep well clear of the helicopter tail rotor. The tail rotor is difficult to see because of the speed at which it rotates.
  • To avoid being scorched by hot gases, stay well clear of the helicopter exhaust outlets.
  • Wear a lifejacket at all times during flight over water. Note: An inflated lifejacket may hinder escape from the helicopter. Life jackets should therefore be worn un-inflated and only be inflated once outside the helicopter. Clothing which inflates automatically or with built-in buoyancy should not be worn.
  • All will wear ear defender/ear protection, which will be provided by the helicopter operator.

If embarking, you should:

  • Enter the operating area when instructed to do so by the DPO following clearance by the helicopter crew, and keep well down.
  • Sit where directed by the helicopter crew.
  • Fasten seat belt and study the in flight safety regulations.

If disembarking, you should:

  • Remain seated until instructed to leave by the helicopter crew.
  • Adopt the crouching position when leaving and walk briskly away from the helicopter as directed.

Helicopter operations can be influenced by a lot of factors We will only operate helicopters when this can be done within safe-limits. 

What you should know about our Helicopter Operations

Helicopter operations can be influenced by a lot of factors, such as but not limited to weather, sea and sea-ice conditions, flying time/distance restrictions, visibility and (helicopter related) technical issues / breakdowns. We will only operate helicopters when this can be done within safe-limits. We can never guarantee that helicopter operations will take place, they can be cancelled at the last moment or helicopter operations can be cancelled while in progress if the Captain and the Pilot consider the operations not safe anymore. Every passenger who participates in those mentioned helicopter tours, understands and accepts that no guarantees can be given, including a specific amount of helicopter time and that no claims or whatsoever can be brought forward in relation to the voyage including the helicopter operations to Oceanwide Expeditions and any related third parties. See also our General Terms and Conditions.

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