Over the last few years the number of helicopter flights over our suburb has increased dramatically. Three helicopter tour operators operate out of a helipad next to the V&A. Short flips from the V&A along Sea Point and around Camps Bay are priced at an attractive level. With a weak rand, a steady increase in tourist numbers and easy access from the V&A, business has been good for the operators. At some periods we have recorded up to twenty flights per hour over Green Point.
But we think these sight-seeing trips are non-essential, noisy, dirty and dangerous. They benefit a few at the expense of a great many. Over a large part of the suburb it is often quite impossible to stand outside on an otherwise peaceful day and hold a normal conversation. We are also concerned for the safety of residents on the ground: helicopter accidents are not uncommon: in a cursory search of CAA accident reports we found six reports involving craft operating out of the V&A or flying past that resulted in damage to or complete destruction of the helicopter. Helicopters also burn a great deal of fuel: pumping so much unnecessary carbon into the atmosphere (up to 1.5 tons of CO2 per day) is not compatible with Cape Town’s goal to build a sustainable city.
The industry is largely self-regulating within guidelines that the CAA sets down; there is no impartial authority to effectively police adherence nor to adjudicate these guidelines. Are these guidelines appropriate for a busy air space, contested by growing number of helicopters, fixed wing planes, aircraft towing advertising banners, recreational pilots, and para-gliders?
Following a meeting in 2014, it has been agreed that the GPRRA and the V&A will monitor helicopter flights creating a disturbance in our area with a view to taking appropriate action against the relevant helicopter operator.