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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Is No Rotorcraft Exempt From Noise Complaints?

James T. McKenna

Even MV-22s flying dignitaries to and from the Pentagon are not spared public and political criticism of the noise from their operations.

Deep-green and highly polished aircraft from U.S. Marine Corps Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) are among the Bell Boeing Ospreys that now operate at the heliport just to the north of the Pentagon. (V-22s in combat colors also fly there.) Officially called the Pentagon Army Heliport and bearing the facility code KJPN, it is nestled between the narrow-angled intersection of two main roads. 

The heliport is surrounded to its south, north and east by the Pentagon military reservation to the west by Arlington National Cemetery’s 634 acres. Just a bit further to the north is the George Washington Memorial Parkway and beyond the parking lot to its east are the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove and the Potomac River.

But neighbors past the cemetery and the Fort Myer and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall military posts that wrap around its western side are complaining that “cupboards have been shaking and dishes have been rattling” and blame V-22 flights, according to The Washington Post. (Sikorsky H-60s routinely operate from KJPN, and Bell Helicopter H-1s do on occasion.)

Residents of nearby Arlington, Virginia, neighborhoods such as Barcroft and Fairlington also have complained to their man in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat Don Beyer. The Post reported his declaration about his congressional district: “This is Northern Virginia; it’s not the Green Zone,” referring to the heavily fortified, 4-sq-mi section of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. 

Based on the complaints, Beyer succeeded in including in the House version of the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act an amendment required the Defense Dept. and FAA to study possible changes to routes into and out of the Pentagon, including specific altitude requirements for overflights of nearby neighborhoods. It may be too early to tell whether that call for a study would be included in the Senate version of the authorization act or any bill finally enacted into law.

The Pentagon heliport lies under the approach and departure paths for Reagan Washington National Airport about 1 mi to the southwest.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps

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