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Responding to Community Concerns about Helicopter Noise and Operations 12-30-09 Version Purpose and Goal
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This presentation is intended to assist helicopter operators and corporate flight departments respond more effectively to community inquiries and complaints related to helicopter operations and noise.
Addressing Community Concerns
Working and Communication with Concerned Citizens
Reported Noise Concerns
Myths and Tips
Establishing Standardized Procedures
Noise Complaint Forms and Information
Follow Up on a Reported Concern
Being a Good Neighbor
The most important benefit of responding to a citizen complaint is the opportunity to assure the community that helicopter operators hear their concerns and are reducing noise impacts when possible.
Implementing proactive measures such as those
described in HAI’s Fly Neighborly Program
helps reduce noise impacts to your community
and provides the cornerstone for an effective noise
Learn more by visiting http://www.rotor.com/Operations/FlyNeighborly.aspx
Working with residents in your community fosters a good neighbor relationship and supports the future of aviation in your community. It’s just good business!
Enhance the public’s view of the helicopter industry through education and outreach including impacted residents, local government, and industry within your community.
Outreach and education helps the
community understand the value
of helicopter aviation.
Establish credibility and trustworthiness
by following best practices (such as those included in the HAI Fly Neighborly Guide) to reduce noise impacts.
Working with concerned citizens can be challenging.
Proactive community involvement helps, but does not
mean there are no noise impacts. Residents may still
be annoyed or feel their private space is being invaded
by helicopter operations or noise.
Respond professionally and avoid
a defensive response during
communications and interactions.
Establish a rapport with the
citizen by replying to complaints
with genuine concern and
Although there are many positive
community impacts associated with
aviation, we must also be cognizant of
the negative impacts which include noise.
Noise complaints are typically made by a small percentage of people who are impacted by aviation operations and noise in their communities, or have a sensitivity to aviation related noise. While only a small percentage may voice their concern, a complaint often reflects similar concern of a larger number of people in the surrounding community.
Individuals may react to the same sounds in very different ways, and their perception is their reality. Often, people who call to complain feel that helicopter noise is reducing their quality of life.
Communication with residents offers the opportunity to explain how helicopter operations may actually enhance the safety and quality of life for residents within a community or region. Examples include: search and rescue, firefighting, air ambulance, law enforcement, etc.
Strongly confronting an angry person will discourage
There is only one way to deal with an angry person
Ignore them and they will go away
They moved in after the operation commenced so they
have no right to complain
They can’t have an impact
on our operation or industry
We fly all the time but only
hear from a few people,
there must not really be a noise
impact on our community
Here are some suggestions for working with callers:
Be courteous and patient, not defensive. Listen.
Maintain a current fact sheet and provide accurate and up to date information including a description of the proactive noise abatement practices already in place. Consider developing informational materials for the public (contact HAI at www.rotor.com for materials currently available).
Understand the goal of complaint management and the limits of what you can do.
Make a commitment to the caller to follow up when appropriate and actually do it!
Thoroughly investigate the cause of concern and provide available information.
Seek help. Responding to noise complaints is not new to the industry and partners are available to help. Your local airport’s noise management or community affairs staff may be able/willing to assist.
Avoid the loss of useful information and opportunities
to enhance public awareness by establishing standard
procedures for responding to noise complaint reports.
Create consistent public messaging
to decrease mistrust and confusion
and to establish credibility.
Address noise complaints
effectively and professionally by
routing inquiries through trained, capable
Publicize a specific department or point of contact to
handle citizen concerns.
Make it easy for people to contact you (web, email, phone, etc.).
Don’t assume that because people don’t call there is not a
concern about noise impacts in your community.
A standardized noise complaint form can help guide staff to
ask the right questions by following a predetermined outline.
Forms should be developed locally,
be readily available, and the
people responsible for completing
them should be well trained.
Consult other operators
to learn about what type of
Information they collect.
*See examples of online noise complaint forms
and related information available
on HAI’s web site: www.rotor.com or
email us for more information:
Examples of information to be collected:
Date and time of call
Who took the call
Date and time of reported noise event
Name, address, phone number, email
Details of noise complaint
Investigation notes and closeout description
Date and time of call: This information will help track a
timely response and provide valuable data for caller trends (ex:
determining which months consistently correlate with the
highest number of calls)
Who took the call: For information tracking
Date and time of reported noise event: This information
is valuable in the investigation process by aiding in
determining the cause of the concern and also providing
trend information (ex: determining the time of day that
your local community most frequently expresses concern)
Name, address, phone number, email: This provides callback
or response information and also aids in the investigation
process (ex: by knowing the area where the resident lives you
may better determine what operations may have been in that
area at the time of the reported event)
Details of noise complaint: Determine the primary concern
so you can properly investigate and respond (ex: is it an
altitude and/or noise concern?)
Investigation notes and closeout description: This close-out
section is vital to tracking the results of the investigation and the
information provided during the response to the resident. This
will provide valuable data related to caller trends and will help
you to focus the efforts of your Fly
File these forms to reference
during future contact with residents
and to track valuable information
Respond to a reported concern as quickly as
Demonstrates your commitment to working with your community
Requires good coordination and communication among all involved
Must be timely and thorough
As a helicopter operator, your response speaks for the industry as a whole. Responding to noise complaints can be an opportunity to educate citizens about the importance of helicopter operations in your local area.
Implementing noise abatement procedures in your operations will result in a decrease in the level of noise generated by the helicopter and reduce the main rotor’s impulsive characteristics which often cause concern. In addition, it demonstrates your commitment to the community, increases community support, and may help reduce the number of complaints you receive.
Additional information is available through the HAI Fly Neighborly Program. This program provides operation “best practices” including:
Pilot training and noise abatement procedures
Ways to encourage the use of noise abatement procedures
How to promote public acceptance
The basics of helicopter noise and its causes;
HAI Fly Neighborly Guide available at: www.rotor.com
For further information contact: [email protected]
Or write to:
Helicopter Association International
1635 Prince Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314