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Responding to Community Concerns about Helicopter Noise and Operations 12-30-09 Version PowerPoint Presentation
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Presentation Transcript

Purpose and Goal

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


Addressing Community Concerns

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

management program.

Learn more by visiting


Working with Concerned Citizens

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.


Effective Communication is Essential

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.


Reported Noise Concerns

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.


Myths About People Who Call

to Complain

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


Tips For Handling Citizen


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 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.


Establishing Standardized


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

company representative(s).

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.


Noise Complaint Forms

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: or

email us for more information:


Complaint Form 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


Complaint Form Information Details

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)


Complaint Form Information Details (cont’d)

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

Neighborly program

File these forms to reference

during future contact with residents

and to track valuable information

and trends


Follow-Up on a Reported Concern

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


Being A Good Neighbor

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.


HAI Fly Neighborly Program

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:

For further information contact:

Or write to:

Helicopter Association International

1635 Prince Street

Alexandria, Virginia 22314