Congressman criticizes FAA effort to reduce local helicopter noise

A news helicopter over Canoga Park
A news helicopter flies above Canoga Park. Media flights such has this one would be affected by proposed flight rules to reduce noise over residential and commercial areas.
(Joel P. Lugavere / Los Angeles Times)

A congressman who has called for government regulations to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles County criticized the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday for its effort to develop voluntary guidelines for local chopper flights.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) said he was concerned the FAA has not come up with a timeline for action as requested by lawmakers and has targeted only three areas of the county to study: Torrance, Hollywood and the Cahuenga Pass.

Without a full evaluation of helicopter operations in the entire county, Schiff said the FAA will not understand the extent of the problems facing homeowners and businesses.

Torrance, Hollywood and the Cahuenga Pass, however, are some of the worst areas of the county for helicopter overflights and a major source of noise complaints by residents.


Schiff also criticized an FAA proposal to have helicopter operators and community members devise a noise complaint system instead of the FAA. He asserted that community groups, residents and pilots associations do not have the expertise to create a complaint process.  

“While I appreciate the engagement that the FAA has had with stakeholders in Los Angeles,” he said, “it’s progress in bringing about relief to residents has been painfully and unacceptably slow.”

Schiff was reacting to an FAA report updating its effort to develop voluntary guidelines to reduce noise and safety concerns. Under recent federal legislation, the agency has a year to make the approach work or it will be required to regulate altitudes and routes in the Los Angeles Basin.

The FAA contends that a voluntary and collaborative effort involving pilots, local leaders, homeowner groups and community members will result in the most effective noise abatement measures.


Agency officials said in their report that good progress has been made with the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition, the Professional Helicopter Pilots Assn., helicopter companies, the U.S. Coast Guard and public safety agencies.

According to the FAA report, the undertaking is complex and includes risk assessments for helicopter altitudes, safety studies, route evaluations, analyzing air traffic in the basin, identifying problem areas of the county and developing outreach efforts to warn pilots of noise sensitive areas.

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