Cate Pleass manages Chopperline at Caloundra Airport and is responsible for all the east coast operations of the Curry Kenny Aviation Group.
Cate and BeCa President Les Thomas met on Wednesday September 9th at her office at Caloundra Airport.
The purpose of the informal meeting was to begin dialogue on issues arising from the operation of Chopperline aircraft affecting Bellvista residents.
Chopperline is a helicopter training school at Caloundra Airport. Les began the discussion by mentioning BeCA had recently resolved that Anna Grosskreutz pursue that only Airport Leases be renewed for community friendly industries at Caloundra airport. Chopperline and helicopter activities were the source of most complaints received at Caloundra Airport.
Chopperline operate 3 helicopters, 2 smaller dark blue aircraft and another which is a golden color. All aircraft have monitoring instruments which relay up to date information on their position and height back to Chopperline headquarters. From time to time there may be an occasion when these guidelines are broken, but these instances are very rare according to Ms Pleass. However for the vast majority of time Chopperline operate within the guidelines set down by CASA.
Ms Pleass said there are two areas used by Chopperline helicopters, one is an area for circuits, and the other is a general training area. Bellvista is in ‘a general training area’. Currently all take-offs for all aircraft from Caloundra Airport are directed over Bellvista by Caloundra Airport management.
Ms Pleass is very concerned over genuine complaints arising from local residents. Recently she received a complaint which turned out to be a helicopter used by Energex to check high power lines in the area. Other complaints she has received have also been with aircraft not associated with Chopperline. Ms Pleass will act on any complaint towards Chopperline aircraft which may have contravened CASA regulations. This does not include excessive noise.
As weather improves, Ms Pleass said that more training flights would be scheduled in the near future.
BeCA commented that as we lived near an airport most residents understand there will be some aircraft noise. The major concern for residents was the repetitive circuits carried out by Chopperline’s 2 dark blue helicopters. A single taking off or landing was not a major concern; it was those repetitive circuits which go on for hours by helicopters which annoy residents the most.
It was agreed:
Chopperline would endeavour to inform residents via the BeCA website of days when they could expect added flights over the estate.
Chopperline would meet with the BeCA Management committee prior to the end of the year to discuss issues.
Chopperline would inform Bellvista residents via the website of ‘extraordinary’ updates of any Airport activity which would impact on Bellvista residents. Ms Pleass mentioned that residents may experience a very large helicopter (“Hughy”) flying in the vicinity for the next week or so. This isn’t a Chopperline aircraft.
Ms Pleass requested that genuine concerns relating to Chopperline helicopter activity made by Bellvista residents could be emailed to BeCA for forwarding on to her personal email address at Chopperline for investigation. To forward a concern click HERE or visit the “Contact Us” tab.
Ms Pleass would remind all of her staff of the Fly Neighbourly policy and the need to be aware of local resident concerns.
BeCA raised the suggestions made by Mr Keith Eglen that other training areas be investigated away from residential housing. It is possible this may require CASA approval.
A perfect solution could be the provision of a helicopter circuit training facility off site of Caloundra Airport. It has been suggested that a 200m airstrip and associated helipads be built in an area well away from all residential housing. There would be certain CASA requirements (fuel, safety access) to be addressed in any proposal. This would solve all problems but would need to be financed by other authorities.
Both BeCA and Chopperline were pleased a communication channel was open between the two organisations.
Residents, this meeting will not stop Chopperline helicopter flights over the estate and it will not make the noise of repetitive helicopter training circuits suddenly disappear. But the meeting may eventually lead to a solution to resident concerns.