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L.A. Helicopter Traffic Regulation Bill Introduced

The legislation would establish flight paths and minimum altitude rules. Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates and Palos Verdes Estates supported similar legislation last year.

Los Angeles County residents could soon see some relief from the seemingly constant helicopter noise overhead.

California Reps. Henry Waxman—who represents the Palos Verdes Peninsula as part of the 33rd Congressional District—and Adam Schiff and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced legislation Monday that would require the Federal Aviation Administration to establish regulations on flight paths and minimum altitudes for helicopter operations in Los Angeles County.

Other Los Angeles congressional colleagues, including Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) also support the bill.

“I hear complaints about helicopter noise from every part of the 33rd District—from Malibu to Brentwood to Benedict Canyon,” said Waxman in a statement. “FAA regulation of the thunderous helicopter traffic over L.A. is long overdue. And if the FAA won’t act, Congress must.”

Feinstein noted that in addition to reducing noise, the bill would increase safety and minimize commercial aircraft delays while exampting first responders and military aircraft from its limitations.

Last year, Schiff and Feinstein wrote to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to form a working group at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to solicit input from local communities and stakeholders on helicopter noise and safety issues across Los Angeles County. For the past year, that working group has been meeting with local residents, stakeholders and officials to discuss ways to move forward and adequately address the concerns and complaints of affected residents.

Under the proposed legislation, the FAA would have to set the guidelines within a year of the bill being signed into law.

This is the second time such a bill has been introduced. Last year, then-Rep. Howard Berman spearheaded legislation to quiet helicopters.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the new bill requires the FAA regulations to increase safety, "minimize scheduled commercial aircraft delays," and be written with input from both communities and helicopter operators—items that were not part of Berman's bill.

Rancho Palos Verdes voted at the end of 2011 to support Berman's bill. Palos Verdes Estates and Rolling Hills Estates did the same shortly after.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula is south of Torrance Airport, which is home to helicopter manufacturer Robinson Helicopter. Multiple South Bay residents testified at a hearing in June 2012 about helicopter noise in the area.

“I’m heartened that Congressman Schiff and Senator Feinstein will be taking up the mantle of helicopter noise regulation next year," Berman said in a news release. "They have been steadfast partners with me on the LA Helicopter Noise Relief Act. Los Angeles County residents should know that they will have an important voice in Washington who will continue to fight for common sense reforms to protect their safety and quality of life from intrusive helicopter flights.”

R Williams February 06, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Although this addresses in specific helicopter noise, it does not include anywhere in the dialog private fixed winged aircraft. In specific, as in our area of Torrance, a great deal of private Non muffled very loud fixed wing aircraft, that fly low and often daily, no transponders, non identifiable aircraft. This seems to have slipped out of the specifics of this bill, which are just as if not more of a nuisance than just helicopters per se. Please tell me this isn't true?
Rick Taylor February 06, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I agree with R Williams and I hope this isn't true. R Taylor
Mike Short February 07, 2013 at 09:07 AM
I agree that some fixed wing aircraft make a ridiculous amount of noise while climbing over our homes. However It doesn't look like fixed wing craft are being considered at this point. Having attended some of the meetings mentioned in the article I've learned that regulations are complex, also that helicopters and fixed wing don't occupy the same spaces. I say good luck to this initiative by Waxman and the others, and maybe we can keep the ball rolling to curb all noise pollution. M Short.
Daniel Lee February 11, 2013 at 09:27 PM
I'm an attorney and helicopter pilot, and live about a mile and a half from the Torrance airport. At my residence almost all aircraft noise is from airplanes. The proposed legislation does not address airplanes. The little noise I hear from non-police helicopters would be hard to reduce, because you can't make helis fly higher as they fly much slower than airplanes and would be put on collision courses.

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