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Oahu residents can expect more helicopter noise


Some additional helicopter noise is coming the way of residents in the vicinity of H-1 and Moanalua freeways.

The Army said it will conduct a new round of training missions Friday through May 24 to the Big Island in preparation for a January deployment to Afghanistan.

The training will result in an increase in air traffic as helicopters depart Wheeler Army Airfield, and fly east along the H-1 corridor, a route mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, officials said.

Helicopters with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade travel along the corridor flying through what is known as the H-1 transition in Honolulu airport’s "Class B" airspace.

Helicopter crews will practice aerial gunnery and transport at Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.

In late April and in early March, the training flights by UH-60 Black Hawks resulted in a spate of noise complaints. The upcoming training will involve Black Hawks and two-seat OH-58D Kiowa Warriors, the Army said.

"We understand the concerns of the community and understand the impact, so we’re doing what we can to minimize that," said Maj. Tom Barrett, the aviation brigade’s operations officer. "We fly as high as we can and we ask for higher altitudes from the FAA, but based on weather, safety and other air traffic, which we can’t control, they direct us and say, ‘Hey, fly at this altitude.’ "

That altitude typically is between 1,500 and 2,000 feet, Barrett said. 

Koko Head has a directional beacon and is used for routing, and H-1 becomes a two-way freeway in the sky not just for Army helicopters but civilian aircraft as well.

The Army flights generally include two to four helicopters flying as a group from about 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays, Barrett said.

The Army said it has been working with the FAA and air traffic control to see if an alternative route through Honolulu airport and out to sea can be used, but that would place the rotorcraft in the same airspace as jetliners.

"We are still working with the FAA to address the route," Barrett said. "It’s a process that we’re working through." A meeting is expected next week, he said. 


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