SINGAPORE: The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has put in place measures to minimise noise from helicopter operations through carefully planning flight routes, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Monday (Nov 2).
Dr Ng was responding to a parliamentary question from Member of Parliament Lim Wee Kiak, who asked how many complaints there have been from the public relating to noise from helicopter operations at Sembawang Air Base.
Mr Lim had also asked about measures that will be taken to mitigate noise pollution on a more permanent basis around Sembawang and Yishun, given that more residents are working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his written reply, Dr Ng said that there has been an increase in the number of complaints received on helicopter training over the last few months. This is despite the measures taken to minimise the noise through the careful planning of flight routes, said Dr Ng.
Dr Ng's reply to Mr Lim comes after he said in a response last month to a parliamentary question from Member of Parliament Sitoh Yih Pin that the RSAF has done as much as possible for its pilots to train overseas or using simulators.
"The current training profile just ensures that our pilots maintain their proficiency. These same considerations apply to helicopter operations," said Dr Ng on Monday.
He added in his reply that Singapore's helicopter squadrons must ensure operational readiness and "be on standby 24/7 for search and rescue missions".
Over the past year, RSAF’s helicopters were activated 16 times for medical evacuation. Each time, the aircrew had to be airborne within minutes, said Dr Ng, adding that they often carried out their mission under difficult conditions such as choppy waters or inclement weather.
RSAF’s helicopters also play important roles for security during events such as the Trump-Kim Summit in June 2018 and the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018, said Dr Ng.
"The sight of Apache helicopters circling the skies over Sentosa, was a powerful deterrent against those bent on disrupting or causing harm during these high profile events," said Dr Ng.
"These successful missions would not have been possible without the rigorous training that the men and women of the RSAF go through on a regular basis to maintain their skills, proficiency and a high state of operational readiness."