MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of the military's newest and perhaps most controversial helicopters is heading to Hawaii and Kaneohe residents are concerned over the noise and environmental impact.
By 2014 windward residents will see as many as two dozen MV-22 Osprey's flying around Kaneohe Bay.
The Osprey has been cleared to come to Hawaii. The tilt rotor Osprey takes off and lands like a helicopter but can fly like a plane. However it's had its troubles. The fleet was grounded in 2000 after two fatal crashes killed 23 people. Two months ago one just crashed in Florida injuring five. Four months ago a crash in Morocco killed two Marines.
Still the Marines maintain safety isn't a problem.
"These aircraft are safer than any aircraft we've ever had," said Capt. Derek George, Director of Environmental Compliance MCBH.
Then there are the noise concerns. Windward residents have complained to lawmakers about all the flying.
"In terms of noise we really need to make sure it does stay at a reasonable level. I live near the base and we do hear it at night. It's something I've heard throughout my life living near the base," said State Senator Jill Tokuda, (D) Kaneohe, Kailua.
The Marines say the Osprey will fly the same hours as other aircraft which is 8:00 am to 10:00 pm and on occasion to midnight. But training will mostly be over the ocean, not over neighborhoods. And they maintain it's not going to be much louder than what's been flying around the base since before World War II.
"As far as the noise is concerned the noise of the MV22 is very comparable to the noise of the CH 53's we have now," said Capt. George.
"The noise factor between the Osprey and other aircraft flying around here, there is going to be no difference," said Lt. Col. Armando Espinoza, Marine Corp Air Station Operations Air Field Operation Officer.
"It's not really noise, its training. These guys are fighting for our country, risking their lives. As a veteran I say that's the sound of freedom," said State Representative Ken Ito, (D) Kaneohe, Heeia, Haiku Valley.
In addition to the Osprey, 15 Cobra and 12 Huey helicopters will also be stationed in Hawaii. Some are already here in Kaneohe.
The Marines say the final environmental impact statement says the aircraft will not affect the ocean or wildlife. However some historic buildings on base will be demolished or renovated in order to make room for the 1,000 new military personnel that will be coming in with all the aircrafts.
To read the final environmental impact, the signed record of decision and other related documents click here.