Helicopter operations: the environmental impact and ground facilities. Procedures and operational standards for the system’s acceptance.

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    The link between the heliports, environmental quality and safety is an important challenge in the field of helicopter transport. This challenge is especially crucial when the helicopter operations are carried out on densely urbanized areas. Often these areas have significant constraints and obstacles, particularly in terms of noise pollution. These constraints make the approach/takeoff maneuvers very complicated.The theme of the environmental sustainability of the rotorcraft is strongly felt in many countries. The production of noise is subjected to numerous rules and procedures, which tend to improve the acceptability of the helicopter by residents in neighboring areas to verti/heliports.The attention of manufacturers towards the problems of noise compatibility has produced technological innovations to reduce emissions, such as the shape of the tip of rotor blades, a speed reduction of rotation of the rotors, etc.Environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important when siting all aviation facilities. In particular, heliport facilities generate both positive and negative impacts on the surrounding environment. Negative impacts are mainly related to soil quality, water resources, safety issues, air environment (especially during the construction phase), noise (during operations) and biological environment. Positive ones could occur by the increase of emergency services, revenue generation, and the provision of a better connectivity with the neighborhoods located nearby the facility, the raise of employment opportunities and the general improvement of air transport facilities. The current international regulatory framework on heliport facilities seems to be lacking with regards to the evaluation of the environmental impacts of the heliport facilities. Moreover, the national rules on this topic are often undefined or vague. For this reason, it seems necessary to define guidelines to improve the awareness of the consequences which spontaneously arise from the planning and designing phase of heliports. Already from the site selection stage, heliport planners have to take into account all potential environmental issues. Noise is always the primary concern in these cases. A candidate site must be compatible with its surroundings. Compatibility must include any increase in activity resulting from IFR capability. Additional issues that citizens and municipalities are concerned about include air pollution, water pollution, ground access, and safety flight operations. Air pollution by helicopters is negligible although this issue may be brought up by concerned citizens and communities. Water pollution caused by fueling or maintenance facilities at a verti/heliport is comingunder greater scrutiny. The ability to deal with all these public issues must be addressed during final site selection and community standards must be upheld. Ground access to a new transportation mode may increase traffic at and en route to that location and create a potential increase in noise and air pollution. These concerns must be dealt with in the design of ground access to the facility and by incorporating the individual community's standards, regulations, and goals.The receptivity of community leaders to work with the vertical landing facility to solve these problems should be measured in the final site selection process. Beyond the direct benefit of affecting the environment as little as possible, addressing environmental issues is an additional, albeit indirect tool, in obtaining and keeping good relations with the local government and its citizens. A helipor
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages20
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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