Responding to Community Concerns about Helicopter Noise and Operations 12-30-09 Version
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.
Outline 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 http://www.rotor.com/Operations/FlyNeighborly.aspx
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 understanding. 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 them 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 Complaints 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.
Establishing Standardized Procedures 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: www.rotor.com or email us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 possible: 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: www.rotor.com For further information contact: email@example.com Or write to: Helicopter Association International 1920 Ballenger AvenueAlexandria, VA 22314-2898