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How Do We Address Helicopter Noise Complaints?

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How Do We Address Helicopter Noise Complaints?

Old 24th Jun 2019, 12:17
  #1 (permalink)  
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How Do We Address Helicopter Noise Complaints?

Helicopters are interesting and useful machines.

Some make more noise or other irritants than others.

So how do we as an industry....or Military Service address these issues and at the same time conduct our business or mission?

Is the Media giving to much credence to the complaints?

Can/does helicopter noise actually create physical or psychological problems for humans beneath their flight path?

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Old 24th Jun 2019, 16:31
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The link doesn’t seem to work this side of the pond, “Sorry, this content is not available in your region.” As a Chinook driver (rtd) with hearing loss, I can only confirm they are noisy.
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 16:32
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Well, I had to use a VPN-Tunnel to read the articel in Europe.....
If someone focuses on a specific sound - he will hear it before everbody else and gets anoyed.
I was lucky enough to be raised when frequent low flying jets were roaring through the skys.
When the sound started, my mum said, look, where is it coming (which at the end lead to a career in aviation)
If she would have covered my ears with her body over me, I might have developed a fear instead.
The industry can´t avoid to overfly people, who live near to airfields.
Instead of avoiding single spots, where they live - and concentrate the noise to other places, people which are complaining should be invited to visit the airfield, get an throughout explaniation, what makes the sound - and a helicopter which makes sound is unlikley to crash on their house - different to the ones, which stop making loud noises in the air ;-)
Second, when ever possible, we can also fly with a low noise signature (that is high)
Its easy for us to decend with 2.000 feet per minute just short of the field - and it is also easy, to climb with Vtoss at the beginning, reaching 1.000 and more feet within the airfield parameters.
(Adds safety as well, if things go wrong, you have more height to play with)
Just fly a little more on the left side of unshaded area of the dead mans curve and not so far at the right side ;-)
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 17:33
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As a Chinook driver (rtd) with hearing loss, I can only confirm they are noisy.

Almost two thousand hours in the Chinook and it did not hurt my hearing one bit....other than the High Frequency part anyway.....and it is gone..gone....gone.

If all that noise got piped outside the Chinook would be banned world-wide.

What we are talking about is outside noise and the reaction of a few folks who are quick to complain about helicopter generated noise.
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 17:48
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Washington-area residents say increased helicopter traffic is giving them nightmares

Hannah Natanson, The Washington Post

Published 8:33 pm CDT, Sunday, June 23, 2019

Photo: Washington Post Photo By Hannah Natanson.
Bill and Gabrielle have lived in their Bethesda, Maryland, home for 20 years. The couple say they might not have bought the house all those years ago had they known they would face so much helicopter noise now.WASHINGTON - The helicopters typically come in threes.

As the first one flies by, the walls of Kathy Daniel's Bethesda, Maryland, home start to shake. When the second follows, the chains on the metal lamps in her living room begin jangling. The brass lamp her father brought home from the Bahamas goes "clink, clink, clink." The lamps with sailboat finials make a "boing, boing, boing" sound.

"Then the third one goes by, and at that point my nerves are rattled," said Daniel, 63, a retired communications expert who has lived in Bethesda for more than 30 years. "It's loud enough where I can't think straight. It makes my heart pound, actually - I can just feel my blood pressure going up."

The cacophony lasts at least three minutes and repeats over the course of the day. Helicopters fly over Daniel's home in the morning, about noon, in the evening and again late at night. Monday through Friday. The air traffic was not always this bad, Daniel said. As best she can estimate, it got much worse starting three or four years ago.

She is not alone. After a sharp spike in complaints from District of Columbia-area residents about the frequency and severity of helicopter noise, local lawmakers in January asked the Government Accountability Office to study the issue. Earlier this month, the GAO accepted the request and plans to launch the study this fall.

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., one of the lawmakers who requested the study, said that helicopter noise is "our No. 1 constituent complaint" and that the number of complaints has risen steadily since he took office in 2015.

"Constituents are asking me why the episodes of helicopter noise are increasing, and I can't explain it, I don't know why," said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who also requested the GAO study. "The study should give us some answers about what is behind the increase in helicopter noise and what can be done to reduce it."

Meanwhile, households throughout the region live with a level of helicopter traffic that some residents describe as unprecedented and unbearable. The helicopters are impossible to ignore, they say, with their mind-numbing noise that rattles walls, floors, ceilings and nerves.

Daniel said the frequent sound of whirring blades overhead makes her feel as if she is "living in a war zone" - or that she's a character cowering in a jungle in the 1979 Vietnam War movie "Apocalypse Now."

She loves her leafy, friendly neighborhood but says she can't take it anymore. Once she knows where her son will settle after college, Daniel plans to move away.

"For me, it brings up a visceral fear reaction," said Gabrielle Stevens, 71, a retired environmental scientist who also lives in Bethesda. "It triggers a primitive response in me, that I have to be wary and protect myself, I have to be on guard."

London-based psychologist Alison Greenwood, who has studied the relationship between noise pollution and mental health, said research has shown that persistent aircraft noise leads to significant emotional and physical stress. It causes annoyance, which in turn increases blood pressure and heart rate. A 2017 study found that aviation-related sounds can raise the risk of heart disease and make it harder for children to do well in school.

"Immediately, I'd be worried particularly about children's learning," Greenwood said of the helicopter traffic in the D.C. area.

The helicopters' possible negative effect on her child has caused Heather Spence, 34, to consider moving out of her home in Arlington, Virginia, though she has no plans to do so. Spence, a marine biologist on a fellowship at the Energy Department, is expecting a baby in a few months. She said helicopters are "a constant presence" in her neighborhood.

"I know being in a noisy environment causes stress, and now I have another human coming into my care," Spence said. "It's different when you're making decisions for someone else."

The majority of helicopters flying in the region are probably military aircraft traveling between bases or transporting VIPs, said Seth Clute, director of operations for Maryland-based helicopter company Monumental Helicopters. Weighing about 2,200 pounds, military aircraft are much larger and thus much louder than other kinds of helicopters, he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for overseeing flights and setting rules about noise generation, Clute said, but it has a limited ability to regulate military activity.

"The FAA is responsible for the enforcement of federal aviation regulations and can conduct investigative and enforcement actions that can range from remedial training to pilot suspensions, but they can only do that with civil operators," Clute said. "They can't do that with (the Department of Defense) or military. That's different; the DOD handles the punishments."

Clute said he is unsure why military traffic may have increased recently. Residents desperate for answers have resorted to obsessively logging their experiences: One Arlington resident runs outside to snap a picture every time a helicopter flies over. A retiree in McLean, Virginia, keeps a plastic file box in his basement crammed with helicopter-related newspaper clippings.

William Noonan, a physicist who has lived in Montgomery County, Maryland, for 26 years, said passing helicopters cause his entire house to shake. When he stands in the middle of his family room during a helicopter flight, he can feel the floor vibrating and see the sliding glass doors and windows "flex in and out."

Helicopters fly above Noonan's house on average eight times a day, he said. It has gotten so bad - in combination with airplane traffic - over the past three years that Noonan, 57, has begun sleeping in the basement guest room to escape the whirring.

"Every day, we have to straighten all the pictures in our house," Noonan said, as do his neighbors. "We were talking with a neighbor and the neighbor was like, 'Oh gosh, you're right - helicopters are doing it!' She had been blaming her 7-year-old."

A few weeks ago, a helicopter shook Noonan's house so badly that it caused a painting to fall from a wall of his dining room. The 18-by-20-inch portrait came off "right along with the hook and nail - it was nuts."

Arlington resident Ruth Shearer described a similar experience. When helicopters fly over at low altitudes, her floors rumble, her windows rattle and her two dogs become distressed.

"Look, we're not naive about living in Arlington," said Shearer, 56.

"We have VIPs living here. We've had motorcades at kids' soccer games. . . . The residents of this area are very, very used to what this area brings, they're very seasoned, but this is inexplicable," said Shearer, whose neighborhood is home to the church attended by Vice President Mike Pence.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who requested the GAO study along with Reps. Raskin, Beyer, Gerald Connolly, D-Va., Anthony Brown, D-Md. and David Trone D-Md., said the fact that experienced Washingtonians are complaining means the helicopter traffic has risen to unlivable levels.

"The tolerance level in this city and region is very high. This is the capital of the United States. We expect helicopters, we expect planes," Norton said. "You're dealing with a particularly tolerant population which has had enough."

Norton and other lawmakers expect that the data gathered during the study will help explain why helicopter traffic has increased and suggest possible ways to reduce the inconvenience to residents.

Among other things, lawmakers have asked the GAO to scrutinize the types of aircraft flying in the region, the frequency of the flights and their flight paths.

Spence is hopeful that the study will reveal "a better way to do things." She is reminded of what's at stake every time she looks at her father, who lives with her.

"With him as a (disabled) Vietnam vet with PTSD, it's not just the physical effects, it's also the emotional effects of what that brings up," she said. "He's not going to say anything about it - that's not who he is - but I can see it."

The helicopters "bring back his nightmares," she said.
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 18:08
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It is just another reason to give the dim-witted and easily offended cause to complain.
The man in the street has a bad case of entitlement and will climb onto their high horse with little encouragement.
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 18:18
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Lets give them dogtacks, with - "no EMS - helicopter transport" on it, as well inform the police, that a burglar at that home isn´t to be chased by helicopter, as well as missing children/grandmas and dads aren´t searched for by helicopter ;-)
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 19:34
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Helicopters are unusual and therefore noticeable. Very few people seem to notice the noise from traffic, or would until we pilots ask them to discuss the noise issue while standing by a main road.
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 19:44
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In our case you buy a quiet one (EC 135) and paint it the same colour as the local EMS machinery.

Do whatever you want, no issue.

No rocket science required!
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 22:55
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When the garbage truck roars into their street, wakes them up with the mechanics of lifting the wheely-bins and putting them down, beepbeepbeep reversing, and roaring away - no complaint - "It is an essential service."

When the drug dealer who lives 3 doors away has his mates around on their Harleys, and they make a lot of noise - no complaint - "They might kill me."

A helicopter flies past, with less noise than either of the 2 above - "THAT HELICOPTER DRIVES ME MAD! Trailbikes of the skies! Get rid of them!"

It is a thing called "perceived noise" and is a problem in places where the government pays any attention to a complaining citizen. In other places, the choppers operate without interference.
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 23:02
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The question is, who was there first, the heliops or the complainers? I became a partner in a flight school-tour business next to a drive-in-theater, the land was eventually sold for residential development. Though the new home owners signed an acknowledgement that they were purchasing next to an airport, the noise complaints began. Our remedy was to give the complainers the toll free number for the FAA, we had few if any followup calls.
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Old 25th Jun 2019, 02:10
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Here is the press report of one of many battles over helicopter noise.



A google search also brings up complaint procedures forms to the relevant authorities.
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Old 25th Jun 2019, 02:55
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Old 25th Jun 2019, 04:28
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Originally Posted by chinook240 View Post
The link doesn’t seem to work this side of the pond, “Sorry, this content is not available in your region.” As a Chinook driver (rtd) with hearing loss, I can only confirm they are noisy.
Outline.com is one tool to work around various restricted sites.

Should go straight to the article.
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Old 25th Jun 2019, 22:36
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Originally Posted by nomorehelosforme View Post
Here is the press report of one of many battles over helicopter noise.

That ruling was overturned on appeal:


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Old 26th Jun 2019, 00:57
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Good old Bucks Free Press, used to deliver that newspaper in Great Kingshill as a paper boy 40 years ago!
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Old 26th Jun 2019, 15:26
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Ascend Charlie - nicely put.
Maybe one way would be to help spread the perceived pain by not permitting the Mayor of London to give an effective monopoly to a single heliport by decreeing that no ‘new’ helipads can be permitted?
the residents of Wandsworth, Kensington, Chelsea etc would love another site to ease the ‘burden’.
Secondly - how about concerted ‘lobbying’ rather than piecemeal aka ‘the chopper way’.
I’ve tried to write to various architects/developers with the ‘rooftop’ initiative but no replies as yet......
There appears to be a general reluctance or a simple belief that it’s not possible/permissible.
How best to change this?
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Old 27th Jun 2019, 06:27
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Rooftops for commercial use, rather than EMS, have a bad smell about them. The Pan Am crash did most of that. There are issues with finding a rooftop that isn't already occupied by air con coolers, cell phone towers, microwave repeaters etc. Then you need to have the rooftop certified as strong enough to land machines of certain size there, fire protection, bunds for fuel leaks, pax protection from being blown away, waiting areas, staff to supervise load/unload, access for pax through somebody else's building, insurance, blah and blah.

Generally falls into the "Way too hard" basket.
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