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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Hawaii isn’t the only state that has a problem with unsafe tour helicopters

A U.S. Coast Guard boat moves toward the site of a tour helicopter crash near the Hawaiian island of Kauai on Dec. 27.
A U.S. Coast Guard boat moves toward the site of a tour helicopter crash near the Hawaiian island of Kauai on Dec. 27.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: Our local members of Congress in Southern California are just as frustrated as Democratic Rep. Ed Case of Hawaii regarding unsafe and disruptive tour helicopters. (“Officials confirm no survivors from Hawaii helicopter crash,” Dec. 28)

The Federal Aviation Administration has refused to establish a minimum altitude for helicopter tour flights. It’s time for Congress to direct the FAA to do so. One thing is clear: The industry is not regulating itself.

On busy days there can be as many as 50 tour flights over Griffith Park to view the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory, often flying at above-ground altitudes of 500 feet or less. The noise disturbs hikers, tourists and wildlife. More seriously, these nonessential flights risk the lives of people on board and on the ground.

A tour helicopter with the federal registration N324RS, which crashed on Mt. Baldy on Dec. 29, 2016, was documented and photographed two days earlier flying over the regular crowd of visitors at the Griffith Observatory at 200 feet above ground, per Webtrak. The National Transportation Safety Board knows this.

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Adding to stakeholder frustrations of seeking voluntary measures from tour operators, the FAA recently pulled the plug on funding the countywide automated complaint system.

Gerry Hans, Los Angeles

The writer is a member of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition.


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