In July many residents in Hammersmith complained about helicopter noise. As a result I persuaded the Council to hold a meeting about it. This took place last week and the report that was presented said:
“Occasionally, extra airspace restrictions are implemented in London that impact on helicopter activity over H&F. An example of this is when tall cranes are erected on large construction sites. These can be 300 feet (91.4m) or taller and present a potential obstacle to helicopters. These are notifiable to the CAA and the heliport. Pilots are made aware of these obstructions and the avoidance area around it (typically a radius of 1 nautical mile). In the summer, a tall crane in RBK&C was erected as shown in Figure 3 in the Appendix which impacted on helicopter movements from July to September, causing them to fly over areas not usually impacted. This can be very noticeable for residents and the causes are not immediately obvious. A temporary airspace restriction was also put in place at the time of the Grenfell Tower fire and remained in place for several weeks.”
While the problem has abated we still discussed various ways the situation could be improved.
Before 2005 the minimum altitude for aircraft from 1,500 feet but it was then reduced to 1,000 feet. This is covered under the EU’s Standardised European Rules of the Air. After Brexit we will be able to set our own laws. Perhaps that could include requiring a higher minimum altitude so that the aircraft don’t cause such a noise nuisance.
Transparency is another area. Heathrow Airport provide real-time information on arrivals and departures and H&F residents can use the WebTrak facility to check on flights over the borough. Why not provide a similar facility for helicopters which could show arrivals/ departures at the Heliport and other helicopter activity in London airspace, so that residents could check activity in their area?
There is also more that the Mayor of London could do to seeking powers to limit the overall number of helicopter movements in London’s airspace in order to manage their environmental impacts, particularly in relation to noise.