Brigham and Women’s Hospital Helicopter Impact Review

New England, USA

The Brigham’s helipad provides emergency access to patients throughout New England and eastern New York State who need trauma care at the Brigham and Brigham Children’s Hospital, accommodating approximately 500 medical flights each year. 

The helipad was relocated in 2018 to accommodate a building project at the hospital that, upon completion, would interrupt the flight path to the former landing site. The new helipad provides improved obstruction clearance for aircrafts, ensuring greater safety during landing and takeoff operations.  


  • The Challenge

    The new helipad created safety concerns related to winds on and around surrounding buildings. Noise and vibration from helicopter operations would result in impacts to the comfort of hospital occupants, on sensitive hospital equipment, such as MRIs, and the wider environment.

  • Our Approach

    RWDI conducted a detailed analysis of the mean and peak downwash velocities using our state-of-the-art boundary layer wind tunnel and technical expertise. We evaluated the interaction of the downwash velocity profiles with surrounding buildings, and recommended mitigation measures to break up downward airflow, including changes to flight paths and building architectural features.

    Noise propagation modelling was conducted and noise impacts assessed on the buildings through the façade and into interior sensitive spaces. Mitigation measures, including the upgrade of windows in patient areas and noise silencers on rooftop openings and ductwork were recommended.

    RWDI also consulted on the helipad design to isolate vibrations.

  • The Outcome

    This resulted in a helipad that supports safe helicopter operations while minimizing the operational effects on patients, sensitive medical equipment and on the environment.