10.20.15

Regulations needed to reduce excessive helicopter noise in L.A. County, activists say (Los Angeles Daily News)

Frustrated by years of largely unsuccessful efforts to get helicopter companies and pilots to voluntarily adopt noise-reduction policies, activists are now asking the FAA to enact mandatory regulations in their quest for quieter skies over Los Angeles County.

Legislation was passed last year requiring “significant progress” to be made by the Federal Aviation Administration on the issue by the end of 2014 or a regulatory process would begin.

That has not occurred, said members of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition.

 

“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,” said Vice President Richard Root, a Torrance resident who also heads up the local group Citizens for Quiet Helicopters. “We are well past the congressional deadline for progress and, unfortunately, we have still not reached any significant agreements.”

 

PROPOSED HELICOPTER RESTRICTIONS

 

The coalition filed four petitions Tuesday with the FAA that asks the agency to put special regulations in place in the county that would:

 

No minimum altitude regulations exist for helicopters, which often fly just a few hundred feet above the ground.

 

Earlier this year, a new hotline and website were set up that allow residents to report noisy helicopters in an effort to quantify the problem.

 

“Despite the fact that most residents are unaware it exists and most helicopters don’t show up on the flight tracking system, the initial launch of the FAA’s new Heli-Noise-LA complaint system still logged a complaint on average every seven minutes, with more than 34,000 complaints in the past six months,” said Wayne Williams, a coalition board member and member of the Van Nuys Airport Citizens Advisory Council.

 

Nine of the 11 coastal cities in the county have passed resolutions demanding the passage of federal legislation to tackle the issue. Torrance, home to the world’s largest helicopter manufacturer, is not one of them.

 

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, who co-authored the legislation, said the move is a clear sign of the exasperation residents are feeling over the issue.

 

“I urge the FAA to redouble its efforts to tackle this problem effectively,” he said. “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, “ Schiff added. “I urge the FAA to put it to good use expeditiously.”

 

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor indicated it will take time to work out an effective process to deal with helicopter noise.

 

“Addressing these concerns is an incremental process,” he said. “The agency remains committed to continuing to work collaboratively with helicopter operators and residents to identify and implement solutions.”