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FAA advises against regulating helicopters over LA

Posted: June 1, 2013 8:00 a.m.
Updated: June 1, 2013 8:00 a.m.

This March 12 file photo shows the air traffic control tower at Chicago's Midway International Airport.

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal report released on Friday advises against issuing regulations to limit low-flying helicopters to cut down on chopper noise over the Los Angeles Basin.

The report by the Federal Aviation Administration said the region's complex and congested airspace, its dense neighborhoods and varying topography makes it "extremely difficult if not impossible" to come up with a single remedy.

Instead, the FAA recommends taking voluntary measures to reduce helicopter noise.

Measures could include asking helicopter pilots to fly at higher altitudes on parts of some routes and in certain areas that have been identified as trouble spots. The FAA also suggested a collaborative process between residents and helicopter operators that led to a few helicopters providing pool coverage of major events, such as Space Shuttle Endeavour's tricky ground transit to the California Science Center, for all media.

"The FAA is committed to mitigating noise impacts from aircraft operations in the safest and most efficient way possible, and is prepared to contribute to a collaborative process between Los Angeles area community representatives and helicopter operators to identify potential measures that could reduce helicopter noise while maintaining airspace safety and efficiency," the agency said in a statement.

The study came after Congressional lawmakers asked the FAA to restrict flight paths and altitudes for helicopters.

The request was spurred by numerous complaints of helicopters hovering over residential homes to cover a celebrity in trouble or a major traffic jam. Many also complained of chopper noise during performances at the Hollywood Bowl.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, co-author of a pending bill asking the FAA to address helicopter noise, said he was skeptical of the FAA's recommendation.

"Voluntary measures in the past have provided little relief for residents," Schiff said in a statement.

Larry Welk, a veteran TV news reporter and president of the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association, said the organization agrees with the FAA report, adding that some measures are already used by helicopter operators. They include shorter hovering times, hovering at higher altitudes, avoiding hot spots and trying to respond better to residents' complaints.

"No one in the helicopter community has said there's no noise problem," Welk told the Los Angeles Times. "Contrary to the public's perception, we are not a bunch of cowboys with utter disregard for those on the ground."

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