Helicopters a nuisance

Steven Isacowitz, Sea Point

The helicopter nuisance has increased dramatically in recent months. Multiple, frequent, simultaneous flights, with the attendant noise, are now a daily occurrence.

This is in line with our mayor’s excitement at the announcement that we can expect 4 000 leisure helicopter flips per month (The Planner Guru 5th September 2023). As each flip has an outward and inward leg, we can expect 8 000 flights overhead per month; 270 disturbing helicopter passes per day.

A visit to the V&A Waterfront reveals a new, much-enlarged site, with multiple operators in the new, enlarged buildings on the apron of the heliport.

My first port of call was the DA City Councillor for Sea Point. She informed me that the city has no jurisdiction over helicopters, and in any case “the landing zones have not increased”.

In addition, the City has an informal voluntary code of conduct signed with the operators, but the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) enforces the legislation, such as it is.

Eric Mtaba, the CAA’s Acting Executive for Air Safety and Operations, was interviewed on Cape Talk. He confirmed that the helicopter operators establish their own operating procedures for noise abatement, and these are approved by the CAA. He added that Municipal and Port Authority regulations need to be abided by, by the helicopter operators, and these regulations may be over and above the CAA regulations. The CAA regulations appear to relate purely to safety and security.

Neither the City nor the CAA appears to have an agenda related to noise abatement regulations applicable to helicopters.

In summary, the helicopter operators write their own regulations which the CAA approves. The City doesn’t see itself as having a role. The impact on the city’s residents is not of any particular concern to the City Council.

The enlargement and expansion of the new helipad was not subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment. This is clearly the nub of the problem.

The residents throughout the peninsula, and not only the Atlantic seaboard, are now exposed to environmental noise from this source, and neither the CAA nor the City of Cape Town appears willing to take action.

I call on all ratepayers’ associations, businesses and residents in the affected areas to stand together and pressurise the City to account for this disgraceful lapse in governance.