By David Learmount in London

London City airport is proposing to invest in a new heliport for London, which would become only the second one serving the UK capital. Whether it is allowed to go ahead depends on an inquiry now starting into existing London helicopter activity and the part helicopter services might play in the city's total transport services for the future.

The proposed new heliport would not be at the airport, but on the river Thames to the east of the Canary Wharf financial centre, says London City managing director Richard Gooding. There are virtually no statistics on the number of helicopter movements over London and there is no noise monitoring, even near Battersea heliport, the Environment Committee of the Greater London Authority (GLA) was told at a hearing last week.

The GLA revealed that it has completed a preliminary survey of residents and was "surprised" at the high level of complaints received. The UK Civil Aviation Authority and National Air Traffic Services (NATS) both declared that they did not have comprehensive data on the number of helicopter movements over London. NATS says most helicopter pilots do not file flight plans, but free-call air traffic control when ready to take off, or immediately upon becoming airbone.

The CAA says the lack of movement and noise data appears to be "a global issue" - these parameters are not monitored in other major cities, so there are no established benchmarks for metropolitan rotary-wing operations. The main constraints and operational practices are based on safety considerations, say the CAA and NATS. The CAA says there is no reason why a noise monitoring system should not be set up at Battesea. The Metropolitan Police, which will begin taking delivery of three new Eurocopter 145s in November, says it rejected one helicopter type as it was too noisy.

Source: Flight International