Helicopter Noise in LA

There has been a lot of “buzz” lately (pun intended) about helicopter noise and it’s negative impact on Los Angeles residents. I would like to shed some light on the issue and give some insight from a tour operator/pilots perspective.

A few months back I read a great article on Vertical Reference written by an EMS pilot. His point was that people always see helicopters as an annoyance until they actually need them ie: their child is in need of immediate medical care. I think he had a valid point.

There is a new bill on the table introduced by Rep. Howard Berman to force the FAA to regulate altitudes and routes of helicopter flight in the Los Angeles area. This was a result of a high concentration of helicopters covering the “Carmagedon” closure of the 405 freeway earlier this year. View Article There is some opposition form both the LAPD and LAFD as there is not exceptions written in for their required operations. The authors of the bill have said that exceptions would be made for the government entities, but the Police and Fire departments are not convinced.

I would like to point out that the Police, Fire, and Medical helicopters are for the most part the only helicopters flying at the low altitudes. They also typically fly larger and louder helicopters. These invaluable services save lives and protect people!!! I am in no way criticizing the way that they fly, but I think they are responible for a large portion of the noise. I think that tour operators would be hurt the most by such a bill.

As a tour operator in LA, we have always had the policy of maintaining as much altitude as possible! We do this both for safety and in consideration of Los Angeles residents. There are of course a few “bad apples” out there that do not hold themselves to this standard. I firmly disagree with the way some of the tour operators conduct their flights.

Do I have any immediate solutions?… No, other than asking my fellow pilots out there to fly safely and considerately. I would just like to point out that there are helicopter operators out there that understand the issue and that we do our best to be neighborly!

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