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LA Helicopter Noise Coalition Makin’ Its Own Noise

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NOISE POLLUTION POLITICS-Members of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition filed four petitions on Tuesday with the FAA, requesting it to enact mandatory regulations to quiet the skies over Los Angeles County, according to an article in the Daily Breeze.  

The group, composed of community activists from all over the county, is “frustrated by largely unsuccessful efforts to get helicopter companies and pilots to voluntarily adopt noise-reduction policies.” They are discouraged by the lack of progress the FAA has made in implementing and enforcing Federal legislation that requires private companies operating helicopters to make “significant progress” in voluntary reductions by the end of 2014 – or face the enactment of mandatory regulations. 

The coalition members say this improvement has not happened. According to Coalition Vice President Richard Root, who also heads up the local group Citizens for Quiet Helicopters, “In the past few years, our coalition has participated in 57 collaborative meetings and we have proposed more than 30 voluntary practices to reduce noise. We are well past the congressional deadline for progress and, unfortunately, we have still not reached any significant agreements.” 

The group’s petitions have asked the FAA to put the following special regulations in place: 

• Require helicopters to fly no lower above the ground than 2,000 feet except in case of emergencies or bad weather.

• Restrict the number and length of time helicopters may hover in one place

• Require media helicopters to pool their coverage

• Establish coastal shoreline helicopter routes.  

In March 2015, the Daily Breeze reported that a new hotline and website was set up for reporting helicopter noise. Although many county residents are not aware that there are no minimum altitudes for helicopters and most flights do not appear on flight tracking systems, many complaints have still been lodged with the FAA’s new Heli-Noise-LA complaint system. 

According to Wayne Williams, a coalition board member and member of the Van Nuys Airport Citizens Advisory Council, the system has “logged a complaint on average every seven minutes, with more than 34,000 complaints in the past six months.” 

The Daily Breeze quotes Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, co-author of the Federal legislation: 

“I urge the FAA to redouble its efforts to tackle this problem effectively…In the absence of sufficient progress through voluntary measures, Congress has made it clear that regulation will be necessary…The deployment of the helicopter noise complaint system earlier this year should provide a wealth of data about the sources and potential solutions to excessive helicopter noise…I urge the FAA to put it to good use expeditiously.” 

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor has weighed in, stating, “Addressing these concerns is an incremental process…The agency remains committed to continuing to work collaboratively with helicopter operators and residents to identify and implement solutions.” 

Resolutions demanding Federal laws to address this issue have been passed in nine out of 11 coastal cities in LA County. Torrance, home to Robinson Helicopter Company, the world’s largest helicopter manufacturer, is not one of them.

 

(Linda Abrams is Associate Editor at CityWatch.)

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 86

Pub: Oct 23, 2015

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