Working with US Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.), the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) and Helicopter Association International (HAI) debuted a new helicopter noise initiative for the Washington, D.C., metro area last Friday. The two trade groups established a helicopter noise complaint system for individuals in and around the region to share their concerns. The system has already received calls about noise over the weekend.
Jeff Smith, chair of EHRC, and John Shea, director of government affairs for HAI, attended a kickoff event with Congressman Beyer to announce the initiative. Congressman Beyer’s district includes areas affected by the noise of the helicopters operating in the District of Columbia.
“While I certainly understand that helicopter activity is an essential part of law enforcement, military, and medical operations – I also believe that we should identify strategies to mitigate the negative impacts that so many people experience on a day-to-day basis,” says Representative Beyer. “That’s why I’m excited to be here today after the culmination of several years’ worth of effort from my office on Capitol Hill.”
Representative Beyer worked with other local elected officials in requesting that the Government Accounting Office conduct a noise study on the region. “Included in this report was a recommendation for FAA to develop a mechanism to exchange helicopter noise information with operators in the DC area,” added Congressman Beyer. “I believe the announcement of this pilot program is a great first step in carrying out the recommendation.”
As of Monday morning, the system had received 18 calls from ten households. All of the calls came the areas south and west of the Potomac River – part of Representative Beyer’s district – and 5-10 miles from the city center.
“I want to thank Congressman Beyer for his long-time commitment to this issue,” said Jeff Smith, chair of the ERHC and vice chair of HAI. “I would also like to thank the FAA for putting together the Washington DC Helicopter Symposium in response to the GAO Report on helicopter noise in the Washington DC area. It was a great collaboration among operators inside of the most restrictive and sensitive airspaces in the world. The symposium was the genesis for the initiative we the Eastern Region Helicopter Council and our partners Helicopter Association International will launching today.”
ERHC and HAI aim to work with the D.C. community to review and process noise complaints and use this data to help mitigate helicopter noise. ERHC and HAI understand that affected residents desire immediate answers to their noise questions and complaints. With the associations’ joint noise initiative, there are now three easy ways to file a helicopter noise complaint: D.C.-area residents may complete and submit noise concerns via web form, iPhone and Android-compatible mobile app, or voicemail at the noise complaint hotline. Using available flight tracking data, the system will accurately identify likely aircraft generating concerns and all associated data. ERHC and HAI stand ready to work with D.C. metro area residents to find solutions for helicopter-related noise concerns.
“With this system we will be able to collect noise complaint concerns into a single repository,” adds Smtih. “In turn we will be able to analyze this data and working with operators and airspace officials mitigate noise concerns where we can without of course interrupting the vital, special and sometimes lifesaving missions.”
“Both ERHC and HAI take seriously the obligation to fly neighborly and represent our industry responsibly,” says Shea. “And both organizations have proven track records of success when government, industry, and communities work together to identify specific pain points and appropriately tailored solutions.”
The new initiative focuses on airport and aircraft noise complaint–management solutions, noise abatement–procedure compliance monitoring, and related government and community affairs. ERHC and HAI partnered with aviation noise consultancy PlaneNoise to ensure the D.C. metro area has broad access to an easy and efficient noise-complaint system.
“One of the most important next steps will be to raise awareness of this noise complaint system initiative,” adds Shea. “HAI and ERHC are committed to supporting Congressman Beyer’s efforts to promote the initiative and to facilitate accountability for the input received.”
“My hope is that we are doing something that will tangibly benefit the lives of people in our community and that’s what my job is all about,” added Representative Beyer. “I am so proud to be a part of this effort in Congress. Thank you again to the Eastern Region Helicopter Council and the Helicopter Association International for being great partners and taking on this important work.”