US Government Research Targets Helicopter Noise

HeliFlite executive helicopter landing at the East 34th Street heliport in Manhattan, New York City (“Beyond My Ken” CC BY-SA 4.0) and modeled noise hemisphere generated by descending with no acceleration (Penn State).

HeliFlite executive helicopter landing at the East 34th Street heliport in Manhattan, New York City (“Beyond My Ken” CC BY-SA 4.0) and modeled noise hemisphere generated by descending with no acceleration (Penn State).

January 1, 2018 | Source: American Helicopter Society (AHS), vtol.org, December 2017, Douglas Nelms

Nothing proves the value of the helicopter to the civilian populace more than natural disasters, and there is nothing sweeter than the sound of a helicopter swooping in to rescue someone from a flooded house or off the top of a submerged car following the latest hurricane, as recent events have hammered home.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, even a helicopter’s life-saving capabilities aren’t enough to ensure public acceptance. There will always be individuals and communities who rise up in protest at the sound of a helicopter, regardless of how intrusive it is or isn’t. Even though new technology is making the new generation helicopters quieter, a lot of communities — particularly in major population centers such in New York and the Los Angeles basin — are becoming louder in their objections to helicopter noise.

Since helicopter noise can’t be totally eliminated, the question becomes: “How do we make helicopters more acceptable to the civilian community?” This question is now at the core of research being conducted by joint government, university and industry programs, sponsored by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), NASA and various universities.

Since 2013 (partly as a result of advocacy efforts by AHS International), the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NASA have invested additional funding in their helicopter noise research programs, and the two agencies have strengthened their collaborative efforts.

For more information on the American Helicopter Society (AHS) Noise Initiative, visit https://vtol.org/what-we-do/noise-initiative.