While planes operate in heavily regulated paths, how come helicopters travel as they please without collision risk, e.g. copter cams following a car chase?

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While planes operate in heavily regulated paths, how come helicopters travel as they please without collision risk, e.g. copter cams following a car chase?

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Planes typically all fly at the same altitude or height. So they need to coordinate that height. The reason for this is planes get the best fuel economy at this height. Helicopters are short range and not as many in the air with their height typically adjusting to the situation. Also helicopters can hover. Planes cannot they can’t stop moving forward or they fall.

Most general aviation (not airline) airplanes don’t fly in a heavily regulated path. Especially if they’re out leisure flying. Where I fly for instance, once im out of a certain airspace around the airport, the instruction I’m given is “own navigation, own altitude” meaning do whatever you want. If traffic is an issue, both parties will be advised of the others location, and it’s on the pilots to maintain visual separation.

If you fly an aircraft (plane or helicopter) in the US, you are either flying under one of two sets of rules… VFR or IFR.

VFR is visual flight rules. The helicopters you see doing whatever are VFR. When you learn to fly airplanes you start with VFR. The general rule under VFR is it’s up to the pilot to avoid restricted areas, avoid other airplanes, follow different rules etc. much more freedom.

IFR is instrument flight rules. This is when air traffic control has much more control over where the aircraft goes and what you do in the plane. All airline flights are IFR, although occasionally they’ll takeoff and land VFR due to lack of ATC.

planes have specific speed requirements and aren’t anywhere near as maneuverable as helicopters. A 737s cruising speed is, like, 500 miles per hour. That would be insane at the altitude where helicopters are following car chases. Similarly, a performing a 180 degree turn in a 737 requires a whole lot of real estate. A helicopter can literally stay in one place while aloft and perform a 180 without moving

Planes operate in heavily regulated paths only in restricted airspace like around airports. When flying internationally the highway-like paths planes make are due to efficiency (shortest possible path) and navigation using beacons.

Helicopters and planes are free to fly however they please (within reasonable rules) in open airspace.