Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) applauded the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) announcement that they would take an important role in helping to stem disruptive helicopter noise plaguing residents across Los Angeles County. The FAA indicated over the weekend that they would establish a comprehensive complaint system for helicopter noise operations – the first step necessary to gather data about the extent of the problem and remedies, identify problem helicopter operators, and give residents a systematic way to register their complaints. According to the FAA, the agency will allocate $250,000 to set up the system and acquire a years’ worth of correlated noise complaint data for helicopters – and allow residents the real time capability to file complaints online or by phone and identify those helicopters responsible. The FAA will bid the project this year, with implementation slated for early next year.
Earlier this year, Schiff and other Los Angeles area lawmakers, including Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), sent a letter asking for a timeline on the FAA’s Los Angeles Helicopter Noise Initiative. The agency finally responded to the Los Angeles lawmakers (letter can be found here), on the heels of legislation that Feinstein and Schiff passed requiring the FAA to act within the year to reduce helicopter noise through voluntary measures, or be forced to put in place regulations to reduce it. Pressure from homeowners and lawmakers finally compelled the FAA to act.
The Los Angeles Daily News reported that Glen Martin, the regional administrator for the FAA’s Western-Pacific region, said via email, “The FAA has approved funding and is moving forward to establish a noise complaint system for L.A. County regarding helicopter operations. We plan to take approximately three months to complete the contracting, and intend for the system to be up and running shortly after the first of the year.”
“While we are still waiting for final details — would this merely monitor noise levels or identify the helicopters causing the problem — the establishment of a countywide helicopter noise complaint system could be a significant development in our years-long fight to give L.A. residents the relief that they deserve,” said Rep. Schiff. “This move comes on the heels of legislation Senator Feinstein and I authored requiring the FAA to adopt new rules and regulations if they could not achieve meaningful relief through voluntary measures. Collecting this data may give us a benchmark to work from and identify those who lack regard for residents on the ground — and I’m looking forward to working with the operators, homeowners and the FAA to make sure that we meet the urgent need for noise relief.”
Bob Anderson, the president of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition – comprising residents from across Los Angeles County who have been working with helicopter pilots and the FAA to reduce helicopter noise without compromising safety – stated that the LAAHNC has stressed the need for a countywide noise complaint system and is very excited that the FAA has stepped up to this challenge.
“The request we most often hear from residents impacted by helicopter noise it ‘where can I complain?’ The answer, sadly, was nowhere,” said Anderson. “This system will now give all residents countywide a place to lodge helicopter noise complaints and will provide irrefutable data identifying helicopter noise hot spots, so our organization can work with pilots and the FAA to stop the noise. This system is the first step among many that we are working toward, including a Tri-Party Agreement between the LAAHNC, pilot organizations, and FAA on voluntary noise-reduction practices.”
In 2013, Schiff and other members of the Los Angeles delegation introduced legislation, the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act, and encouraged the FAA to act independently of legislation to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles. Following a lengthy study, the FAA released their report on the Los Angeles airspace, urging voluntary measures over a regulatory approach, which many homeowners and lawmakers felt was an insufficient response.
Senator Feinstein and Rep. Schiff successfully included language in the omnibus spending bill, which was signed into law, that would require the FAA to develop regulations related to the impact of helicopter use on the quality of life of LA County residents within one year unless the FAA can demonstrate the effectiveness of the six voluntary action items in the helicopter noise report. Efforts to include language in the omnibus were supported by the LAHNC.