CalSTAR has purchased a new, quieter helicopter that will be used for flights to and from Cottage Hospital.
The air ambulance company — which handles most of Cottage’s emergency flights — bought an American EuroCopter 135 that’s reportedly 50 percent less noisy than its predecessor.
The purchase, said CalSTAR, is not in response to consistent noise complaints from Cottage neighbors. In the weeks after the hospital opened its helipad in January, there was an unusually high volume of flight traffic that prompted an outcry from neighbors who said they were being unfairly disturbed by the noise. The number of complaints has ebbed and flowed since then.
A CalSTAR spokesperson said these concerns were not a factor in buying the new helicopter. “We had been talking about this for a long time before that,” he said. Janet O’Neill, Cottage Hospital’s spokesperson, said it was “CalSTAR’s decision, but we’re very supportive of it because it helps the community.” She also noted that the amount of flight traffic has gone way down since the incidents in February.
The number of flights per week has settled to an average of 4.1, said O’Neill, explaining that the hospital is “saving lives without disrupting the community too much.”
It’s unclear when the new helicopter will take its first flight, but CalSTAR said it’ll likely be deployed in the coming weeks.