San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Update: House Passes Helicopter Noise Legislation

By Mark Madler Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The House of Representatives passed a yearlong spending package on Wednesday that includes a provision requiring the FAA to take more action to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles County generated by operators based at Van Nuys Airport and elsewhere.

A provision in the pending federal appropriations bill directs the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration to take steps, including adjusting flight routes, to address helicopter noise over residential areas.

The provision was added to the appropriations bill by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Both lawmakers want the Transportation Department and the FAA to act because they do not think that voluntary measures to curb helicopter noise are adequate.

“After years of pushing, residents should finally begin to see some relief from unnecessary helicopter noise. This legislation will hold the FAA’s feet to the fire and ensure that they are making every effort to reduce helicopter noise. Now, the FAA will have one year to act on its pledge to reduce helicopter noise through voluntary measures, or be forced to put in place real rules to provide relief to homeowners,”said Schiff, in a prepared statement.

The issue of helicopter noise has been one that Schiff and other federal lawmakers have been trying to tackle for nearly three years as complaints by residents have stacked up from the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood Hills, and from audience members at the Hollywood Bowl.

In May, the FAA issued a report on helicopter noise that incorporated comments from two public forums. In the report, the agency concluded that no single remedy can be implemented to reduce helicopter noise on a large-scale basis throughout the Los Angeles Basin.

Schiff and Feinstein’s provision would force the FAA to act on six measures from the report, including evaluating and adjusting existing helicopter routes to lessen impacts on residential areas and noise-sensitive landmarks; analyzing whether helicopters could safely fly at higher altitudes; developing and promoting best practices for hovering and electronic news gathering; doing outreach to helicopter operators about the volunteer noise reduction policies; working to create a comprehensive noise complaint system; and participating in collaborative engagement between community representatives and helicopter operators:

If the six measures do not result in less helicopter noise, the provision requires the FAA to set new rules and regulations for helicopter operations in Los Angeles County.

“The FAA must move forward with those six voluntary measures immediately,” Feinstein said in a prepared statement. “I am optimistic this provision will improve the quality of life for millions of people living in Los Angeles.”