Photo by Bernardo Alps
For the Federal Aviation Administration the focus is on safety, not noise.
“The FAA does not regulate aircraft noise,” said Ian Gregor, the public affairs manager for the Pacific region of the FAA.
“If a noise complaint involved an allegation that an aircraft was flying improperly low or unsafely, we would investigate the safety component of that complaint.”
Safety means that the helicopter “needs to be operated so it doesn’t pose a hazard to people or property on the ground,” Gregor said.
In other words, they can’t kick up rocks and they must be able to land safely with a total loss of engine power.
“The primary goal is safety,” Gregor said. In the Los Angeles area “helicopters are operated very safely.”
Safety does not include noise. And helicopters have no noise regulations - and can do pretty much anything but crash.
There are no limits to how many helicopters can be in an area and there are no flight paths they must follow, unless they are in controlled air space, such as an airport.
“If you are operating safely, and not in a controlled airspace, you can go anywhere you want,” Gregor said.
The FAA does not want to regulate noise but they also make it clear it’s not a fight that local authorities can wage.
Gregor points out that because of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 locals have no jurisdiction over airport sound. Local governments were imposing different standards and restrictions, impeding interstate commerce and making it difficult to run an airport or an airline.
The report states that: “The Congress finds that (1) aviation noise management is crucial to the continued increase in airport capacity; (2) community noise concerns have led to uncoordinated and inconsistent restrictions on aviation which could impede the national air transportation systems; (3) a noise policy must be implemented at the national level.
There has been no policy as of yet and the report doesn’t mention helicopters.
In December 2004 Congress commissioned a study by the FAA called the “Nonmilitary Helicopter Urban Noise Study.”
So who's the biggest culprit in town, and what do they have to say about reducing noise? In the next part, we'll speak with the Los Angeles Police Department about that notorious avian species now considered native to the land, the "ghetto bird."
Next up: Blue Steel: LAPD and the "Ghetto Birds"
PART IV: A Rare Success, and Getting Involved
* Starred comments are taken from a survey taken in May 2011 distributed to members of LeimertParkBeat.com, EchoParkOnline.com and SanPedroNewsPilot.com. It was also sent out on Twitter specifically through @Venice311, @CoCoSouthLA and @HubCityLivin. At the time of publication 57 surveys were completed. To see the survey, click here.
To take a survey about helicopter noise, Click here.