Three congressmen serving the San Fernando Valley are urging the Federal Aviation Administration to take the lead in gathering the opinions of those interested in the debate surrounding excessive helicopter noise.
The lawmakers want the FAA to get stakeholder views – which would include neighborhood groups exposed to helicopter noise and the helicopter operators at Van Nuys and Whiteman airports – to develop solutions to this ongoing problem.
Reps. Howard Berman, Adam Schiff, and Brad Sherman were joined in their May 23 letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, urging his agency to take action. They were joined by Reps. Janice Hahn and Henry Waxman, and U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.
“We strongly feel that FAA’s leadership must lead to meaningful action to reduce helicopter noise,” the letter stated.
Helicopter noise has become a hot-button issue in the San Fernando Valley and other parts of Los Angeles such as the Beachwood Canyon area in the Hollywood Hills near the Hollywood sign, which tend to attract low-flying aircraft.
Last summer, Berman introduced the Los Angeles Helicopter Noise Relief Act that would require the FAA to come up with flight paths and minimum altitude regulations for helicopter operations in Los Angeles County. The bill exempts law enforcement, emergency responders, and the U.S. military. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Boxer and Feinstein.
Berman said he is trying to keep the helicopter noise issue from being “studied to death” but that a collaborative study by the FAA and interested stakeholders is a first step toward helicopter flight restrictions.
“Even if legislation were passed tomorrow mandating certain flight paths and minimum altitudes, the FAA would have to do an analysis to determine how to best impose new rules,” Berman said in a prepared statement.