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Loud helicopter early Sat morning

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Sunday 20 June 2010 12.27pm
Woke us too. Seemed to hang around for almost two hours, which really put me in a great mood yesterday.

The contact form for Excel Charter is at although I suggest there are better ways to complain: City Hall, Evening Standard etc.
Sunday 20 June 2010 12.38pm
These are the details of the Environment Scrutiny Managers at City Hall. There's a report on increased helicopter noise attributed to this department from 2006, so they would appear to be the people to complain to.


Carmen Musonda
Scrutiny Manager
email: [email protected]
tel: 020 7983 4351

Ian Williamson
Scrutiny Manager
email: [email protected]k
tel: 020 7983 6541
Sunday 20 June 2010 12.54pm
I've heard some interesting job titles, but "Scrutiny Manager"? I wonder how many scrutinies an average Scrutinary Manager manages?
Sunday 20 June 2010 1.03pm
They clearly don't scrutinise their holiday schedules, as I've just received out of office emails from the pair of them, which both invite me to contact the other.

One is back tomorrow, the other is back on Wednesday.
Sunday 20 June 2010 6.25pm
The overlapping out of office replies are because you emailed at a weekend - I set mine up when I left on Friday and Carmen will take hers down when she gets in on Monday.

One of us will reply soon to Exigo and the other forum user who has emailed us, but the London Assembly Environment Committee doesn't have the power to stop any helicopters flying over south-east London (though when they're keeping my one-year-old awake I wish it did) so may I please correct the impression that we are 'the people to complain to'. When I am back in the office I may be able to find out who you can complain to, and if I do I'll post it here.

Wishing all a peaceful Sunday night, Ian.
Sunday 20 June 2010 8.43pm
Annoyingly I too was awoken by the loud whirring noise coming from this low flying helicopter. In the past I have complained to the Civil Aviation Authority who said, for what it is worth, that helicopters “must at all times observe the 500 foot rule, which state that aircraft (including helicopters) are not permitted to fly within 500 feet of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure”. The person at the CAA who helpfully responded to me was Chris Blackham, Aviation Related Environmental Enquiries, Directorate of Airspace Policy, Civil Aviation Authority; 020 7453 6525; [email protected]
Monday 21 June 2010 1.55pm
Does this mean helicopters can fly on the south side as much as they want and at any day and night time?

The one on Saturday started at 6.00h the one on Sunday at 10.00h and was also hoovering over Bermondsey Shad Thames for a longer while. Over the weekend and if the weather is nice one can count around 10 times a helicopter flying over the area PER HOUR.

Is there no rule which can ban this kind of flights (except emergencies) over the weekend?
Monday 21 June 2010 8.55pm
Email arrived from Excel Charters, they had leased the helicopter to a company called Helicopter Film Services for the weekend.

The guy was actually very helpful and checked with the pilot to confirm that all the relevant permissions were in place - apparently they were. I have asked who actually provides the 'permissions' and will probably hear back tomorrow.

The Met only allowed Tower Bridge to be closed at 6am on Sat morning and so that's why they were filming at such an unsocialble hour.
Tuesday 22 June 2010 7.01pm
Carmen at City Hall provided details for the CAA, as mentioned above by MR MC. This was Chris' reply today, which logs the complaint, but suggests there's not much that can be done to stop it.

Thank you for your email regarding helicopter noise around Tower Bridge, I hope you find the following information of some use.

Tower Bridge lies within the boundary of the London City Control Zone (CTR) and therefore the airspace above the property, up to a height of 2500 feet above mean sea level (amsl), is classed as controlled airspace. The London City CTR is established for the protection of aircraft operating into and out of London City Airport (LCY) and any aircraft operating within this piece of controlled airspace, must have the relevant Air Traffic Control (ATC) clearance and will be in receipt of an ATC service. The ATC clearance will be provided based on the ability to maintain safe separation of aircraft. There is no time restriction placed on the airspace over London. Helicopter routes have long been established within both the London and London City CTRs, to ensure the safe integration of helicopter transits with LCY and Heathrow aircraft. However, it should be noted that multi-engined helicopters can be provided with an ATC clearance to transit elsewhere throughout the CTR; single engined helicopters must always follow the helicopter routes. Please use the following link to access a map displaying the helicopter routes over London:

Whilst I appreciate the noise disturbance that is associated with helicopter operations over London, aircraft noise is not a statutory nuisance in the UK; it is not covered by the Environmental Protection Act or the Noise Act, therefore preventing the local authority from being able to act on aircraft noise issues. The CAA, as the UK's independent aviation regulator, does not have the legal power to prevent aircraft flying over a particular location or at a particular time for environmental reasons (except when considering proposals to establish new, or amend existing Controlled Airspace, which is not a factor in this case).

Using the database of registered aircraft on the CAA website ( the aircraft G-BPRL is registered to:


Please note that the CAA is tasked by the Government to provide a focal point for Aviation Related Environmental Enquiries and Complaints and the details that you have provided will be logged onto our complaints and enquiries database.

If you require any further information or clarification on any matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,


Chris Blackham
Aviation Related Environmental Enquiries

Directorate of Airspace Policy
Civil Aviation Authority
CAA House
45-59 Kingsway
London WC2B 6TE

T: 020 7453 6525
F: 020 7453 6565
Wednesday 23 June 2010 9.52am
The reply above from the CAA is accurate but not totally comprehensive.

From the sounds of it, if the registration was read off the helicopter then it was most likely below 500 feet. MR MC (above) correctly quoted the 500 ft rule and ATC cannot give permission for an aircraft (of any sort) to break this rule for any reason. To my knowledge, if you want to do anything like filming which requires you to fly below 500 ft, the only people who can give this permission are the CAA!

So the question is: in this instance, was such permission granted by the CAA?

NB If you look at the website the CAA quote ( and enter "G-BPRL" you find not only the registration details but also photos and the fact that it is twin engined (which is important)
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