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Blog: Need for Helicopter Noise Relief

Citizens should support Bills in Congress to direct the FAA to regulate helicopter flights in Los Angeles County to reduce noise.

Recent news stories have focused on two bills just introduced in Congress aimed at reducing helicopter noise in Los Angeles County. The bills, one in the Senate (S. 208) and one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 456), would direct the Federal Aviation Administration to issue regulations governing helicopter flight altitudes.

Most of the media attention has focused on noise in the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles. However, helicopter noise is a big problem in the South Bay. Torrance Airport has changed in recent years. Now, a high percentage of its flights are helicopters. The public was never given any notice before helicopter routes were established over their neighborhoods or before Robinson Helicopter, based at Torrance Airport, was allowed to expand and increase its test and training flights without any consideration being given to mitigating their environmental impacts.  

Now, the South Bay has tens of thousands of helicopter flights each year over otherwise quiet residential areas. They disrupt the quality of our lives and raise safety concerns.

Over three years ago, citizens submitted a petition to the Torrance City Council asking for help in reducing helicopter noise associated with their Airport. Since then, at least 15 public meetings have been held to discuss the problem, but no changes have been made. In June 2012, representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration made an offer to the City of Torrance to test better arrival/departure routes for helicopters. But, it has been over seven months and there has been no response from the City.

The Federal Aviation Administration does not regulate helicopter flight altitudes like they do fixed wing planes, which are required to fly at least 1000 feet above ground level.  Instead, helicopter pilots fly as low as they want.  For noise abatement, the FAA “advises” pilots to fly 2000 feet or more above ground level when flying over noise sensitive residential areas. However, since it’s only “advisory,” pilots don’t have to comply—and they don’t. 

The helicopter industry’s own noise abatement program suggests that pilots “fly higher” to reduce noise on the ground. But, again, it’s voluntary, and it’s largely ignored by pilots.

Helicopters cast a wide noise footprint. A single helicopter flight from Torrance Airport around the Palos Verdes Peninsula coastline and back to the airport (a distance of about 25 miles) can negatively impact many hundreds of households on the ground. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for there to be as many as 20-25 such flights in a single day.  

Last year seven South Bay city councils—including Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates, Lomita, and Los Angeles—voted to support federal legislation to reduce helicopter noise. The County Board of Supervisors, the State Senate, and the State Assembly also voted to support it.

It’s time for the Federal Aviation Administration to require minimum flight altitudes for helicopters. That’s what the proposed Congressional Bills ask the FAA to do and it makes sense. 

Citizens should contact members of Congress to let them know they support these Bills. If you want more information, updates, or to find out what you can do to help, contact Citizens for Quiet Helicopters at helicopternoise.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stamford Bridge February 12, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Couldnt agree more with these bills. I hope it applies to moronic news copter pilots, who think a 3 car pile up on the freeway is justification to hover for an hour at 4:00am...I live too close to the 210 freeway and I am routinely waken up by these A-holes. I seriously considered buying a potato gun to launch spuds at them the last time they did that. Obviously, that would be highly illegal and dangerous, but when you are being woken up at 4am on a saturday, sometimes you don't think clearly...
Miss Scott February 12, 2013 at 07:24 PM
RIGHT ON, or when you are sleeping and they blare out on blast, "STAY IN YOUR HOUSE, DO NOT GO OUTSIDE, REPEAT, STAY IN YOUR HOUSE, " with chopper blades clippin the avacodo trees!
Tim Sole February 20, 2013 at 03:59 AM
So, let me see if I have this straight. We have a unemployment rate that is completely absurd, a debt and deficit that is swallowing us whole and any industry that paid a living wage running off to go overseas. And the only thing that the fair citizens of the south bay can think of, is to ask our elected officials to stop noise. Seriously folks, put the pipes down and help the lower and middle class by beating up our congressmen like Waxman to get the real problems fixed. Time for a change of thinking.......
Brian Stoddard February 20, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Moral of the story,don't buy a house near a freeway only to then complain about noise.
Stamford Bridge February 20, 2013 at 03:35 PM
@brian - you're an ignorant douche. For those who live near the 210 between La Verne and San Bernardino, the freeway probably wasn't even there when their home was purchased. Your attempt at a provocative statement, falls flat...

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