Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Aeronautics and Aviation

Unlicensed landing areas

The Minnesota rules permit the utilization of an unlicensed landing area for both private and commercial operations, provided the duration is less than 30 days. Aircraft can utilize the facility as needed for 29 days from the initial landing, but operations must cease on the 30th day. Any site intended for use for 30 days or more, even if only sporadically used, does not qualify as an unlicensed landing area. If the facility meets the criteria a personal-use airport, and is located more than five miles from the nearest public use airport, it is exempt from licensing requirements. However, all other airports must obtain licensing before commencing operations. Therefore, a license is mandatory if you plan to use a landing area for 30 days or more, before the first aircraft landing.

Certain conditions govern the use of unlicensed landing areas. The area must be suitable for aircraft landings without endangering individuals or property. Adequate safeguards must be in place to ensure passenger and public safety. For water landings, the aircraft must carry sufficient life preservers for passengers and crew. The landowner's permission is essential, and the use of the landing area must not pose undue hazards to adjoining property, occupants, or existing transportation and utility lines.

One prevalent use of unlicensed landing areas is for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) helicopter landings near accident sites.

Seaplane base licenses apply to the land area where operations are conducted. The landing of a seaplane on a lake does not trigger the 30-day counter for an unlicensed landing area. However, if the aircraft docks or beaches on a lake, that action constitutes the first operation.