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New Law Seeks to Regulate Helicopter Noise

The legislation gives the FAA one year to determine if voluntary measures are working to abate helicopter noise.

A helicopter manufactured by Robinson Helicopter flies over Dockweiler Beach. Photo credit InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic-ShareAlike license.
A helicopter manufactured by Robinson Helicopter flies over Dockweiler Beach. Photo credit InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic-ShareAlike license.

The skies above the Westside and the rest of Los Angeles may be a little quieter in the future, as Congress approved legislation aimed to reduce helicopter noise Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law Friday.

The Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act, which was included with the omnibus budget bill, was approved Wednesday by the House of Representatives and Thursday by the Senate.

Under the legislation, the Federal Aviation Administration must evaluate—and possibly revise—existing helicopter routes so as to reduce the noise impact on communities, such as the South Bay. Additionally, the FAA must develop a complaint system, inform pilots about voluntary guidelines, and determine whether helicopters can fly safely at higher altitudes.

The law exempts police and paramedic helicopters.

If the voluntary measures don't work, the FAA is required to develop regulations.

Residents of Torrance and the Hollywood Riviera, Palos Verdes and Redondo Beach have complained about flights along the beach and the cliffs of the Peninsula. Many of the flights originate at Torrance Airport, where helicopter manufacturer Robinson Helicopter is based.

John Bailey, a resident of Torrance, told the Los Angeles Daily News that the new legislation is "no relief for us." He believes the legislation didn't go far enough.

“We would have liked to have seen the FAA walk the walk and talk the talk,” Bailey told the newspaper. Instead of waiting a year for the FAA to determine whether voluntary guidelines are enough to solve the problem, he wanted laws passed immediately regulating how low helicopters could fly, among others.

According to AIN Online, the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association has blasted the legislation as “mistimed, misplaced, misworded and an egregious example of congressional trickery gone awry.”
GasMeUp January 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Sooner would be better. Like, now!
Glenn E Grab January 22, 2014 at 01:38 PM
it exempts police and emergency choppers?, that's 99 percent of the traffic....
pilot_rick January 22, 2014 at 04:53 PM
One of the interesting aspects of Santa Monica Airport is it keeps the helicopter noise away. Without Santa Monica Airport you would have a large number of helicopters in the area and arrivals into LAX flying at a low altitude.
Michael S January 23, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Propaganda only works if it makes a little sense. It takes a special kind of person to claim that having a helipad that is used for personal, public and flight school use lessens the noise from helicopters.
pilot_rick January 23, 2014 at 08:29 PM
Michael, SMO is controlled airspace that extend to the surface. Therefore helicopters cannot loiter in the area without clearance. This controlled airspace is also what prevents heavy jets flying low over Santa Monica. Your attacks on my character just show your true petulance. You have already admitted you do not live close to Santa Monica so why are you against the airport. I suspect you are a fat cat real estate developer who will stop at nothing to make yourself even richer.
Michael S January 24, 2014 at 02:03 PM
Lying again. I have been living in Santa Monica for 35 of the last 48 years. 14 of those years were 1 block off the end of the runway and the rest have been right under the flight path 16 blocks to the west. Once again you show your complete lack of integrity and the fact that you are a liar for everyone to see.
pilot_rick January 24, 2014 at 03:41 PM
Michael s, why do you keep changing your story then accuse me of being a liar?
Michael S January 24, 2014 at 08:09 PM
Link to the lies, not a pilot_rick. Of course just like your studies you can't link to any because they don't exist. You are obviously a pathological liar.
Edith Murcer January 24, 2014 at 11:45 PM
Democrats were invented for taxes , regulations and bans. So this makes sense
SoCal Spotting February 25, 2014 at 08:10 PM
Michael S if you don't like the airport then why the hell are you living under the flight path? that must be one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Move somewhere else if the noise bothers you


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