On May 20, 2016, the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association learned that the FAA denied all four of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition petitions to regulate helicopter operations over the Los Angeles Basin. The LAAHNC had asked the FAA for four (4) SFAR’s:
• A 2000’ AGL minimum operating altitude for all helicopter operations, including public safety (unless the public safety helicopter was actively involved in an operation such as orbiting a law enforcement call, or involved in a rescue or fire-fighting operation)
• Limiting media and tour helicopter operations to a 5 minute maximum loiter time in any one-hour period at a specific location
• Mandatory media helicopter pooling for both planned and unplanned events
• The creation of an air traffic coastal shoreline route for civil helicopters operating VFR along the Los Angeles County shoreline
In their response, the FAA cited the complexity of the airspace in the Los Angeles County area, to include an enormous number of IFR routes, geographic, topographic, and climate limitations, as well as the fact we, as helicopter pilots and operators, have already demonstrated significant progress in minimizing the helicopter noise impact on the communities below.
The FAA also cited the success of the automated noise complaint system which has been in use for just over one year.
The PHPA cautions helicopter pilots and operators not to become complacent! This is not the time to abandon the hard work we have already done over the past year to demonstrate our ability to collaborate with the stakeholders in the area to mitigate noise.
On the contrary, this is the time to remain extra-vigilant and build upon our efforts to continue to be good stewards of the community and remember helicopters are noisy to the communities below. We must not alienate ourselves from the LAAHNC. They are a well-organized group of like-minded individuals who will certainly continue their crusade to regulate us.
The PHPA will continue to attend the monthly automated noise complaint data review meetings and will continue to work with the FAA on the development of a voluntary off-shore helicopter route.
We will continue to brief the membership with important updates as they becomes available.
The PHPA stands resolved to work through the concerns of the citizens of Los Angeles County relating to helicopter noise. We will continue to strive for solutions that are fair and reasonable to all parties. The safety to pilots and the community below will always be our top priority.
Morrie C. Zager, President
Professional Helicopter Pilots Association