Army searching for solution to reduce noise from military helicopters in Va. neighborhoods

- Military helicopters hovering above neighborhoods near the Pentagon have Northern Virginia residents demanding lawmakers to take action in curbing the noise that is causing disruptions to their daily lives.

These residents said the problem has worsened in recent months and has been unpredictable.

FOX 5 has learned the military is conducting a study into the chopper noise and it will be completed by Jan. 31.

A frustrated resident sent video to FOX 5 of a noisy military helicopter venturing across her neighborhood.

“The helicopters come very low so the whole house shakes and I'm not exaggerating,” said Catherine Connor. “The windows, the house – and it's been a bit frustrating. We have two young grandchildren and it used to wake them up. It has been when they were taking naps, and it seems that they could manage to go more over I-395 and not go over the houses, which is what they do.”

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said the helicopters are supposed to come up the I-395 corridor.

“But they are coming from Quantico or Fort Belvoir, and sometimes they perhaps drift a little over the neighborhoods,” Beyer said. “So we were able to get a study requested in the military authorization bill last year.”

FOX 5 has learned the Department of Defense is researching ways to reduce helicopter noise and is ready to hear concerns from Catherine Connor and other neighboring residents.

Gregory Winton, the founder of The Aviation Law Firm, a national law and aviation consulting firm, said residents have rights.

“The rights they have are to be heard,” he said. “What I would suggest is the residents of Northern Virginia that do have complaints concerning these aircraft is to make notes, copious notes.”

“The one complaint we get is that they will fly in the middle of the night and wake up the baby who is hard to get back to sleep or that the helicopter will come and hover, sometimes for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, making it impossible to talk on the phone,” said Rep. Beyer. “Then sometimes they use the bigger helicopters, the Ospreys, which are much, much noisier as opposed to the smaller helicopters coming back and forth.” 

Beyer is hosting a community meeting to address the military helicopter noise on Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Abingdon Elementary School in Arlington.

Colonel Prescott R. Farris, commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Brigade, said in a statement:

“This command has an obligation to ensure our flight crews are trained and ready to respond to contingencies in the nation’s capital in support of our higher headquarters and Department of Defense. 

"To achieve that readiness, we must conduct continuous and realistic training as military aviation plays a vital role in protecting national security and our citizens in the national capital region.

"We also have an obligation to the communities where we live and operate. The military has an obligation to its citizens to protect residents from unnecessary noise and other hazards resulting from our operations, and I take that obligation seriously. 

"The Army Aviation Brigade continues to be fully engaged with our community leaders and residents to seek solutions to balance our training and operational requirements with the impact they have on our communities.

"I look forward to continued feedback and future engagements with our community leaders and residents as we work together to find solutions to our shared goals.”

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