RESTRICT and RE-THINK Helicopter use in crowded England.
Helicopter use has grown like Topsy in our area over the past five or six years. In part this is due to the `pro Aviation' stance of the last Government. There was a Greater London Assembly Environment Committee report on this topic, `In a Spin' , published in 2006, that was `kicked into the long grass' by Labour. It is time to dust it off. The CAA have `Safety' Rules which allow very powerful helicopters to approach persons or structures to within 500 feet in uncongested areas and within 1000 feet in congested ones. The CAA have no Noise or Environmental remit, which I suspect they find rather convenient, and they report to the Department FOR Transport (DfT), so there is a potential for a `conflict of interest' here. Helicopter noise travels too well, annoys thousands, and benefits few. Regrettably DEFRA, responsible for the Environment, have no legal powers – they need some urgently.
Why does this idea matter?
In our area, it is often possible to hear the low frequency `thwap-thwap' of the main rotor blades 30 seconds before the helicopter appears. Then there is the whine from the gearbox and higher pitched noise from the tail rotor blades as it passes overhead. Sometimes the `Noise' is sufficient to pulsate the air in our House and rattle light fittings. From a human hearing (phsyco-acoustic) viewpoint, Helicopter noise has also been rated as 10-15 decibels more annoying than noise from conventional Aviation, for the same reading on a Noise Meter. Also a medium size `Executive' helicopter has a high carbon and air pollution footprint, as some only do 2 miles per gallon and the exhaust gas is not cleaned up. Helicopters benefit few people (excepting Air Sea Rescue, and the Air Ambulance) and blight many peoples lives. It is time for a radical rethink and restrictions – like Paris – on their use in the crowded South East of England (and the Lake District too apparently ….) . Finally it is almost impossible to read the Registration Number on an overflying Helicopter, so there is little chance of reporting specific dangerous or nuisance flying. This also needs review, and perhaps `tachographs' or similar in the Cockpit.