Helicopter Noise in and around Belmont Heights

June 23, 2018

After years of trying to get the FAA to regulate helicopters, early in 2018 the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition (LAAHNC) announced it has run out out of procedural options for stricter flight restrictions for helicopters, saying agency officials and local helicopter pilots have no interest in working with the community to create such rules. The FAA has long said it favors voluntary measures, rather than legislation, to solve the issue.

For a summary of the background on this issue click on this link
https://www.dailynews.com/2018/03/27/helicopter-noise-coalition-concedes-its-efforts-to-curb-noise-have-failed-and-its-giving-up-the-effort/

For a detailed discussion of the FAA's reasons for denial click here: https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2016-05-26/faa-denies-la-anti-helicopter-petitions#

What next? Notes from June 20, 2018 meeting of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition. Provided by Donna Sievers resident of Bluff Heights and liaison for our community to the LAAHNC.

1.  Introductions were made as well as a summary of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition's (LAAHNC) efforts to reduce helicopter noise.  I shared that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 obligated the FAA to take specific acts to collaborate with communities, to adjust routes and altitudes to reduce helicopter noise and to make "significant progress" towards mitigating helicopter noise or...if not then the regulatory process would begin in one year.  It is the LAAHNC's conclusion that "significant progress" has not been made and research from Long Beach supports that conclusion.  In the FAA's report to Congress in January 2015 the FAA stated that they anticipated that an initial set of voluntary measures would be signed by the end of 2015.  Three years later, we have no voluntary measures agreed upon. 

2.  I also shared the May 2018 Automated Complaint Summary Report and noted that Long Beach zip codes 90803 and 90814 have 702 combined number of complaints during the month of May.  The ACS funding has not been determined yet by the FAA so we are unsure if the system will be continued.  Will keep you posted.

3. Long Beach Police Department Lt. Paul Baum, and two pilots, shared information regarding their routine flights.  Mike Colbert explained that they fly 1.5 hours per day in two shifts.  LBPD have two helicopters and both are dark blue with a white stripe.  In response to a question, the police indicated that residents can call anytime and ask the dispatcher why police are flying over the neighborhood.  Another resident asked why the police do not fly at higher altitudes when not on a specific call.  Unfortunately, LA Sheriff helicopter pilots were not able to attend due to a family emergency so could not answer this resident's specific concern regarding flights over Lakewood Country Club area.  Residents also expressed concerns regarding the loud Puma helicopters which fly routinely to practice Search and Rescue procedures. 

4.  Vince Mestre shared his research regarding aviation noise studies.  Vince's research looked at non-acoustic responses (rattling windows, walls vibrating, etc.) and the differences between helicopter noise and fixed wing noise.  Vince studied Long Beach, Las Vegas and Washington DC.  He pointed out that helicopters are complicated aircraft and that the noise generated from the main rotor and tail rotor are annoying to humans while it is the engine noise that is the annoyance factor in fixed wing aircraft.  Vince also pointed out that fear of crashes and attitudes towards the purpose of the helicopter flight influences annoyance response.  It was noted that what we hear from the ground is the blade slap noise as the helicopter comes towards us.  Las Vegas tour pilots have agreed to fly on a "one way in and one way out" route directly over the main highways such as Tropicana so there is a low annoyance level in Las Vegas.  Long Beach's annoyance level exceeded the other two cities studied.  Vince also described the telephone surveys that were correlated to noise monitors in the three cities.  Vince's research in Long Beach focused on the Redondo helicopter route which has approximately 10,000 people residing in proximity to the Redondo route.  Vince surveyed 1000 residents on their noise survey.  Long Beach averaged 19 flights on Redondo per day, Vegas 150 flights per day (with a lower annoyance level) and Washington DC 15 flights per day.  Vince concluded that his research indicated that dose response and non-acoustic factors are important indicators of annoyance.  He also stated that noise level is a function of distance and that people are more sensitive to aircraft noise than to train or roadway noise.  The audience thanked Vince for his explanation of his research.  Copies of the research may be found on the Long Beach Airports website link.

5.  Ron Reeves shared that the Long Beach Airport studies the helicopter noise on the various routes and due to time constraints was not able to share all the details.  Ron and Airport Director Jess Romo are available to answer any further questions.

6.  Ron showed the group the educational video produced by the Long Beach Airport.  Nina Keefer, from Anthelion Helicopters, volunteered her time to film all of the routes and Nina narrated the Redondo Route video.  The group thanked Nina and Chuck Street for these efforts and hopes that pilots will watch the videos and follow the voluntary guidelines.

7. Residents and pilots discussed various issues at the end of our meeting and I thanked Pastor Cheryl Kelly for the hospitality of the Belmont Heights United Methodist Church. 

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release October 20, 2015
LAAHNC Submits Four Helicopter Noise Regulation Petitions to FAA

Citizens seeking relief from helicopter noise – A problem for more than 40 years

CONTACT: Wayne Williams   (818) 905‐8097    [email protected]

LA RESIDENTS PETITION FAA FOR REGULATIONS TO REDUCE HELICOPTER NOISE

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition (LAAHNC) is filing petitions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish mandatory regulations for helicopter flights in Los Angeles County. This action follows years of effort in which we represented residents in extensive talks with helicopter operators that failed to result in any agreement on voluntary flight practices to reduce noise.

There are no specific minimum altitude requirements for helicopter flights. Helicopter noise caused by low flights in the County is a problem. Helicopters often fly as low as 300 feet above people and homes. “Despite the fact that most residents are unaware it exists and most helicopters don’t show up on its 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, LAAHNC Board member.

In January, 2014, federal legislation was enacted that directed the FAA to continue to collaborate with the community and helicopter operators, but also take several steps, including “to evaluate and adjust existing helicopter routes above Los Angeles … analyze whether helicopters could safely fly at higher altitudes in certain areas … and develop and promote best practices for helicopter hovering and electronic news gathering.” The legislation also stated that unless “significant progress” was made by the end of 2014, the FAA “shall begin a regulatory process related to the impact of helicopter use on the quality of life and safety of the people of Los Angeles County.”

“In the past few years our coalition has participated in 57 collaborative meetings and we proposed more than 30 voluntary practices to reduce noise,” said LAAHNC Board member, Richard Root. “We are well past the Congressional deadline for progress, and unfortunately, we have still not reached any significant agreements.”

Our proposed regulations would establish a general minimum altitude for helicopter flights; limitations on hovering by news and tour helicopters; require a system of pooling for helicopter news coverage; and establish offshore routes for helicopters that fly along the coastline. Copies of our petitions and related documents are available on our website at LAHelicopterNoise.org/regulation/.

“The problem of helicopter noise in Los Angeles County has festered for too many years,” according to Bob Anderson, LAAHNC President. “At this point, although we are certainly willing to continue the talks on voluntary measures, we can no longer continue to rely on that approach alone. We hope the FAA will seriously consider our requests, evaluate them for safety and noise reduction, and establish regulations needed to adequately address this continuing problem.”

Proposed Voluntary Measure for Long Beach

Helicopter pilots and operators should vary their Long Beach departures and arrival routes by using Redondo Avenue for inbound traffic and an existing  helicopter route, (either Wardlow Road to the Long Beach Freeway, Cherry Avenue or Lakewood Boulevard) for outbound traffic which will allow pilots to fly directly over the center line of Redondo Avenue on a “one way only” route. When utilizing the Redondo Avenue route, pilots and operators should follow Redondo Avenue to the coast and only commence to turn east or west when at least 1/4 mile offshore thus ensuring that pilots do not “cut the corner” over residential neighborhoods and schools. This applies to inbound traffic on Redondo Avenue and any outbound traffic that does not utilize the alternative routes noted above. In to increase safety and mitigate the impact of helicopter noise on learning, all helicopter pilots should avoid flying directly over Horace Mann Elementary School, Fremont Elementary School, Rogers Middle School and Lowell Elementary School unless public safety issues requires flying over the schools.

Note: There are no restrictions or  Police, Emergency, or County Sheriff Helicopters

Los Angeles Helicopter Automated Complaint System
www.Heli-Noise-LA.com
424-348-4354 (Heli)

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