Helicopter noise – how to make a complaint

At City Hall Caroline regularly hears from people being concerned about the noise created by helicopter flights. The issue affects many parts of both inner and outer London.

To take up these concerns, Caroline and Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, recently met with the Civil Aviation Authority to find out more about how the problem of helicopter noise can be mitigated.

The CAA have now provided the following information which we hope is useful.

Information from the CAA:

The CAA operates an Aviation-Related Environmental Complaints section in order to fulfill its statutory obligations under the Civil Aviation (Directions) 2004 to provide a focal point for members of the public who wish to register complaints or make enquiries concerning aircraft noise. There are a number of ways in which a complaint/enquiry can be made:

By telephone: 0207 453 6525. Callers will initially be directed to the CAA’s noise complaint website that provides links to the various information sheets that are published (selected examples were provided at our meeting). The most relevant information sheets are attached for convenience. At the end of the message, callers may opt to leave their telephone number and a message, allowing the CAA to contact them to discuss their concerns.

By e-mail/website: Members of the public may email the section directly or use the web-form available on the website.

By post: Aviation-Related Environmental Complaints, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway, London , WC2B 6TE.

The CAA do not monitor individual aircraft movements, but by providing as much information as possible the CAA will attempt to provide an interpretation of the activity and in certain cases may be able to identify the aircraft in question. The items of information most helpful to the CAA are location, time and any distinguishing features of the aircraft in question. The CAA also welcomes photographs and details of the camera concerned (in certain cases they can calculate the distance from aircraft to lens).

It is worth noting that noise is not statutory nuisance, so they are unable to restrict or prevent aviation activity on environmental grounds alone. However, where the information provided indicates that a breach of aviation legislation may have occurred, the case will be referred to the CAA’s Investigation & Enforcement Team who will investigate further in accordance with the Police & Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and Crown Guidance for Prosecutors.

The most often cited breach is that of the Rules of the Air low-flying regulations:

The 1,000 feet rule: Except with the written permission of the CAA, an aircraft flying over a congested area of a city, town or settlement shall not fly below a height of 1,000 feet above the highest fixed obstacle within a horizontal radius of 600 metres of the aircraft.

The 500 feet rule: Except with the written permission of the CAA, an aircraft shall not be flown closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure.