A 400-page U.S. Army report on military-helicopter noise in the Washington area has failed to satisfy the member of Congress who authored legislative language requiring its compilation.
The report, delivered to Congress by Army Secretary Mark Esper, “failed to give anything resembling a robust study of the issue, nor does it offer any new or thoughtful recommendations for noise reduction,” U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) said in a March 16 statement.
It was Beyer who drafted a 2016 amendment to the National Defense Reauthorization Act requiring the Army to provide a report to Congress by early 2017.
The report “was delivered to Congress nearly an entire year past its deadline, and failed to study the effects of helicopter noise as directed by Congress,” Beyer said.
The report suggests establishment of a local working group, led by the Department of Defense, that would meet monthly to study issues related to military-aircraft noises and suggest ways to minimize it.
The report also defended existing efforts by the Department of Defense to mitigate the impact of helicopter noise around the Pentagon and other military facilities.
“Military leaders are working to better recognize the noise impact on the surrounding community,” it said. “Whenever possible, DoD plans its operations and training to minimize the noise impact.”
Military officials call their efforts the “Fly Friendly” initiative.
The report notes that the military has no authority over the wide array of non-military helicopters – from news choppers to medical flights – that also contend for local airspace. And, it notes, final control of helicopters in the D.C.-Baltimore area rests with the air-traffic controllers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The report also noted that there are about 40 operations per month in which helicopters shuttle three-star and four-star military personnel (or their civilian counterparts) over the region’s traffic congestion in point-to-point helicopter travel.
Army officials said it cost taxpayers about $29,000 to prepare the report.