Complaint system for helicopter noise begins operations countywide

Complaint system for helicopter noise begins operations countywide
A system for collecting complaints about helicopter noise in Los Angeles County was launched Tuesday. Above, a news helicopter at Van Nuys Airport in 2001. (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County residents can now complain about noisy low-flying  helicopters to a website and hotline sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The so-called Automated Complaint System, which began operations on Tuesday, allows residents to track local helicopter flights and identify aircraft producing excessive noise as well as their operators.


Complaints can be lodged online or by calling (424) 348-4354.

"Helicopter noise has disrupted the daily lives of thousands of Los Angeles residents for years, and allowing the public to report incidents to the FAA is a welcome and necessary step toward solving this problem," said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

The system is a product of the Los Angeles Helicopter Noise Initiative, an ongoing effort by the FAA, community groups, helicopter operators and homeowners to reduce noise on a voluntary basis by assessing aircraft routes, determining trouble spots and improving pilot training.

The initiative stems from legislation passed by Congress in January 2014. Sponsored by Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the measure requires the FAA to develop flight regulations to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles County unless voluntary measures are effective.

The law, however, does not apply to flights by the military and public safety agencies.

FAA officials say the complaint system, which is run by a private contractor, is designed as a research tool and will not result in citations or penalties for pilots of excessively loud helicopters.

The information collected from the complaints will help identify patterns and trends in helicopter operations, determine the level of community reaction to noise and assist the development of noise abatement measures.

"Many of us in the local helicopter industry welcome this new complaint system," said Chuck Street, executive director of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Operators Assn. "This will be an excellent opportunity to finally quantify the extent of the issue."

All the voluntary measures developed so far by the noise initiative are pending before U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, who will make a determination about the progress of the effort.

"Implementation of the noise complaint system is the first concrete result of a now years-long process of collaboration between the FAA, homeowners and helicopter operators," Schiff said. "Much more progress needs to be made."

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