The use of helicopters is increasingly being subject to objections and concerns about noise. Particular examples at the current time are in New York and Los Angeles areas where members of the public are attempting to essential eliminate helicopter operations and members of Congress are proposing severe limitations being placed on helicopter operations and the routes/heights used. Similar actions are also proposed or considered in other locations and if successful will have major (negative) impact on helicopter use in metropolitan areas and could essentially eliminate the ‘successful helicopter operations’ we know today. It could lead to helicopters being ‘banned’ from urban areas or limited to impractical routes/flyover heights.
The negative response to helicopter operations as a result of noise is a little difficult for the technical community to understand because most helicopters generate less noise than the noise certification standards and in most cases meet established community noise rating criteria and guidelines. The major question being asked by many is “Why helicopters are still considered ‘noisy’ even though the noise levels have been reduced and Fly Neighborly techniques are being used?” Over recent years the main effort to address this issue has been handled by the operators of helicopters and their associations.
AHS International believes that it may be time for the manufacturers to be directly and actively involved in studying and addressing this issue, since if the current anti-helicopter trend cannot be stopped, or reversed, it will impact negatively helicopter use and in the longer term sales.
AHS International held a panel discussion and working group meeting on the topic at Forum 69, on May 22, 2013. The working group is now working a plan to address this important issue.