Los Angeles Business Journal

FAA May Crack Down on Helicopter Noise in L.A.

By Business Journal Staff Friday, May 31, 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration will look at modifying helicopter routes and having the aircraft fly at higher altitudes in certain areas as a way to address noise complaints from L.A.-area residents.

The FAA made those conclusions and others in a 56-page report released on Friday. The report incorporated comments and suggestions made by the public, elected officials, helicopter operators and other interested parties from two forums that took place last year.

There are helicopter operators based in the Valley at Van Nuys Airport and at Whiteman Airport in Pacoima.

The issue of helicopter noise attracted the attention of lawmakers in July 2011 following resident complaints about hovering aircraft during the closure of the Santa Monica (405) Freeway for repairs. There also have been complaints from homeowner groups in the Hollywood Hills near the Hollywood sign and audience members at the Hollywood Bowl.

The FAA recognized in its report that no single remedy can be implemented to reduce helicopter noise on a large-scale basis throughout the Los Angeles Basin.

“The airspace over Southern California is among the most congested and complex in the world,” the report stated. “For safety reasons, helicopter traffic must be separated by altitude from higher-performing and faster-moving fixed-wing aircraft.”

The agency supports considering whether helicopters should fly at higher altitudes in certain areas but cautioned that safety risks would be have to assessed first. Any new routes also would have to be evaluated to make sure the noise is not being shifted to other neighborhoods, the report stated.

The FAA also supports outreach to helicopter pilots on staying aware of noise-sensitive areas and events; developing and promoting best practices for news station helicopters; and creating a centralized system for receiving complaints about helicopter noise, the report stated.