In chronological order with the most recent information at the top
On September 19, 2014, the FAA announced plans to put a system in place to register complaints about helicopter noise in Los Angeles County. See this article in the South Bay Daily Breeze. On April 22, 2014, the Mayor of Palos Verdes Estates sent a letter to Senator Feinstein and Congressmen Waxman and Schiff thanking them for their efforts to reduce helicopter noise impacts on residents, especially on the Palos Verdes Estates coastline.
On April 2, 2014, the Torrance Airport Area and Offshore Routes Working Group met. (This group is one of several set up by the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition to work on reducing helicopter noise impacts.) It consists of residents, helicopter operators and FAA officials. Residents are represented by Mike Savidan (Mayor of Lomita), John Bailey and Richard Root, residents of Torrance, and Rudy Whitcomb, a resident of Rolling Hills Estates. All are members of the LA Area Helicopter Noise Coalition and Citizens for Quiet Helicopters. In addition, John Bailey is the President of the Southeast Torrance Homeowners Association and a member of the LAX Community Noise Roundtable, and Richard Root is on the Board of the Hollywood Riviera Homeowners Association. In accordance with legislation signed by the President on January 17, the group is attempting to reach agreements, by the end of the calendar year, on voluntary measures to reduce helicopter noise in the area of Torrance Airport and along the LA County coastline.
On March 24, 2014, Congressional representatives (Feinstein, Boxer, Schiff, et. al.) sent a letter to the FAA expressing their disappointment with the FAA on their lack of progress in the effort to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles. They reiterated that if progress cannot be demonstrated though voluntary efforts by the end of the year, the FAA is required to begin the process of issuing regulations to address the problem. On February 12, 2014, we sent a letter to the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners opposing the reopening of the LAX Heliport. On Friday, January 17, 2014, the President signed a bill sent to him by Congress that contains a provision directing the FAA to take action to reduce helicopter noise in LA. Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a statement and the LA Times published an article. On December 27, 2013, the LA News Group published an editorial in support of the LA Helicopter Noise Relief Act.
On October 15, 2013, Congressman Alan Lowethal (Long Beach) became a cosponsor of the LA Helicopter Noise Relief Act.
The following is a list of our area's elected officials who are on record supporting the LA Helicopter Noise Relief Act:
DIANNE FEINSTEIN – Lead Sponsor
ADAM SCHIFF (Hollywood Hills/Burbank) – Lead Sponsor
BRAD SHERMAN (Sherman Oaks/San Fernando Valley)
HENRY WAXMAN (West LA/Coastal Cities)
JANICE HAHN (Carson/N Long Beach)
TONY CARDENAS (San Fernando Valley)
KAREN BASS (Culver City/West LA)
ALAN LOWENTHAL (Long Beach)
15 other members of the State Legislature from the L.A. area
On October 8, 2013, the Long Beach City Council voted to support the LA Helicopter Noise Relief Act of 2013.
As of 10/8/13 THE FOLLOWING AGENCIES HAVE NOW APPROVED SUPPORT FOR THE LOS ANGELES RESIDENTIAL HELICOPTER NOISE RELIEF ACT:
10/8/13 - LONG BEACH CITY COUNCIL
8/26/13 - SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL
8/26/13 - CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY (SJR 7)
6/24/13 - SANTA MONICA AIRPORT COMMISSION
5/8/13 - LAX COMMUNITY NOISE ROUNDTABLE
5/7/13 - MANHATTAN BEACH CITY COUNCIL
4/17/13 - CALIFORNIA SENATE (SJR 7)
4/8/13 - MALIBU CITY COUNCIL
4/8/13 - HIDDEN HILLS CITY COUNCIL
3/13/13 - CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES
3/6/13 - LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL
3/5/13 - VAN NUYS AIRPORT CITIZENS ADVISORY COUNCIL
3/4/13 - WEST HOLLYWOOD CITY COUNCIL
2/19/13 - LOMITA CITY COUNCIL
2/15/13 - LOS ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
On September 20, 2013, the LAAHNC submitted a letter commenting on the FAA's draft Environmental Order 1050.1.F. We are opposed to categorically exempting helicopter routes from environmental impact review before being established or modified.
On September 18, 2013, the LA Area Helicopter Noise Coalition (residents) met with helicopter operators/pilots, FAA, and staff from elected officials. The group agreed to establish small working groups to study specific issues and report back to the larger group by December 4, 2013. Study issues include Robinson Helicopter flights, the feasibility of establishing a route for helicopters to fly farther offshore along the coastline, and helicopter noise problems at the Hollywood sign and Cahuenga Pass.
On June 10, 2013, Congressman Adam Schiff held a field hearing on the FAA Report on the LA Helicopter Noise Initiative. (See LA Times Article) On March 13, 2013, State Senator Ted Lieu introduced a resolution (SJR 7) in the California Legislature urging Congress to enact the LOS ANGELES RESIDENTIAL HELICOPTER NOISE RELIEF ACT OF 2013. On February 4, 2013, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff introduced Bills in Congress (LOS ANGELES RESIDENTIAL HELICOPTER NOISE RELIEF ACT OF 2013) to direct the FAA to issue regulations to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles County. The Bill Nos. are S. 208 in the Senate, and H.R. 456 in the House.
Motions and resolutions of support for H.R. 2677, the LOS ANGELES RESIDENTIAL HELICOPTER NOISE RELIEF ACT OF 2011, have been approved by the agencies shown below. One notable exception is the City of Torrance, whose airport is home to most of the helicopters that fly in the South Bay area.
11/20/12 - CITY OF BEVERLY HILLS
10/2/12 - REDONDO BEACH CITY COUNCIL (Reported in the Daily Breeze) 8/14/12 - LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL (Reported in the LA Times.)
8/6/12 - CALIFORNIA SENATE
3/27/12 - HERMOSA BEACH CITY COUNCIL
3/26/12 - CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY
2/14/12 - PALOS VERDES ESTATES CITY COUNCIL
1/24/12 - ROLLING HILLS ESTATES CITY COUNCIL
1/11/12 - LAX COMMUNITY NOISE ROUNDTABLE
1/3/12 - LOMITA CITY COUNCIL
12/20/11- RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
11/8/11 - LOS ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
7/29/11 - WEST HOLLYWOOD CITY COUNCIL
On August 8, 2012, the Los Angeles Newspaper Group came out with an editorial in support of tightening rules on helicopters to reduce noise. It ran in the Torrance Daily Breeze, LA Daily News, and Long Beach Press Telegram.
On August 6, 2012, Congressman Howard Berman and the FAA held a hearing in Sherman Oaks to hear public comments on helicopter noise in Los Angeles County. Hundreds of citizens attended. Dozens of citizens testified about excessive helicopter noise in their neighborhoods. Many of them said current measures that are "voluntary" for helicopter pilots have not worked and they called for the FAA to "require" helicopters to fly not less than 2,000 feet above ground level (the level we suggested over 2 1/2 years ago).
Nine people from the Torrance area testified, including people from Hollywood Riviera, Rolling Hills Estates, and Palos Verdes Estates. Also, the City of Lomita sent one of their staff to speak on the noise impacts in their City.
The meeting received good coverage by newspapers and all the local television stations. Here are the links:
FAA Regional Manager, Bill Withycombe, stated the hearing was "unprecedented." He acknowledged that helicopter noise in the area is a problem and he promised to work on it. However, he indicated the FAA will be seeking a solution through "voluntary" cooperation of local helicopter operators.
On July 6, 2012, the FAA published the new mandatory North Shore helicopter route. The new rule is effective August 6, 2012 to August 6, 2014, and requires helicopters transiting Long Island’s north shore to fly at 2500 feet and 1 mile off shore. The FAA will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the route.
On June 28, 2012, there was a meeting of the Torrance Helicopter Committee. Mr. Robert Henry, FAA Operations Support Group Team Manager, gave a presentation and stated that the FAA is committed to collaborating with the community, helicopter operators, and other stakeholders to studying helicopter routes to reduce noise impacts. The FAA offered conduct a trial test of revised arrival/departure routes for up to a six months period. The FAA would conduct outreach and seek input from interested parties before starting the trial period. The need for noise testing was also discussed briefly. Mr Henry agreed to provide the Committee with more information on noise testing. Hopefully, the Committee will meet again soon to consider recommending that the City accept the FAA's proposal for a trial test and approve funding for the City to hire a consultant to conduct noise testing.
On June 16, 2012, in response to our request under the Freedom of Information Act, we received a letter from the FAA stating that, "A review of historic and current files for Torrance Airport did not locate any ATO environmental review documents for the establishment of helicopter arrival/departure routes or missed approach procedures." In other words, the helicopter routes were established and traffic allowed to increase to the high level that exists today without any consideration being given to the negative noise impacts. The impacted public was never given notice or an opportunity to voice their objections.
On May 23,2012, California's U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and 5 L.A. area congessmembers sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, asking him to have the FAA begin the process of formally soliciting stakeholder views on helicopter noise in Los Angeles County in order to more quickly develop solutions.
The following is a list of our area's elected officials who are on record supporting H.R. 2677:
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
U.S. Congressmember Janice Hahn
State Senator Ted Lieu
State Assemblymember Betsy Butler
State Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal
15 other members of the State Legislature from the L.A. area
On February 6, 2012, California Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to the FAA, reiterating her request that the FAA establish height restrictions for helicopters in all of Los Angeles County. On February 1, 2012, the Suffolk Times reported that the FAA is planning to issue regulations that will require helicopters to fly offshore and 2500' along the shores of Long Island, New York.
On January 24, 2012, in the CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE, Assembly Member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 25 urging Congress to pass the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act of 2011 (H.R. 2677 and S. 2019).
On January 11, 2012, Robinson Helicopter Company announced that in 2011 it produced more than double the number of helicopters produced the previous year. They enter 2012 with a backlog of more than 400 aircraft orders. That's great for jobs, but it also means more noise from helicopter test flights.
On December 20,2011, the RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL voted unanimously to support H.R. 2677 and to send a letter to Congress which includes the following paragraph:
"H.R. 2677, submitted by Representative Howard Berman, could have a
significant positive impact on the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes and
neighboring communities. Rancho Palos Verdes attracts a significant number of
commercial and private helicopters due to its miles of coastline and spectacular
topography. Additionally, the Palos Verdes Peninsula is in close proximity to
Torrance Airport, which is home to a major helicopter manufacturer and a large
fleet of helicopters. Residents of our City have lodged complaints about noise
disturbances caused by low-flying helicopters in residential areas."
On December 16, 2011, SENATORS DIANNE FEINSTEIN AND BARBARA BOXER introduced S.B. 2019, in the U. S. Senate to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles. (See press release) Senator Feinstein's bill is a companion to H.R. 2677. On October 14, 2011, a letter was signed by 18 STATE SENATORS AND ASSEMBLYMEMBERS to Senator Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer asking them to support H.R. 2677.
On September 15, 2011, the City of Torrance Helicopter Committee met. A motion to place two issues (1-How far helicopters fly offshore; and 2-Helicopter training patterns at the Airport) on the Committees's agenda for October failed. Instead, the Committee approved the City staff's recommendation that the Committee confine itself to follow-up on the City's existing request for route changes which is currently awaiting a response from the FAA. The Committee adjourned without setting another meeting date. It may be several months before the Committee meets again.
On July 28, 2011, CONGRESSMAN HOWARD BERMAN issued a press release announcing that he introduced a bill in Congress called the LOS ANGELES RESIDENTIAL HELICOPTER NOISE RELIEF ACT, H.R. 2677, which would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to set helicopter flight paths and minimum altitudes in Los Angeles County within 12 months in order to reduce noise.
On July 7, 2011, the Helicopter Committee approved a proposed request that the FAA change its ILS Missed Approach Procedure so that planes maintain their heading straight out from the runway until reaching closer to the shoreline before turning left. The requested path should help keep planes practicing this procedure separated from the West PCH helicopter route. It is also more in conformance to the City's recommended noise abatement procedure for planes. The Committee also decided not to propose designating helicopter routes on the north side of the Airport.
On May 11, 2011, the Helicopter Committee met. For information, there was a Sub-Committee report on the response being prepared for the City in answer to the FAA's letter of April 15. It would state that the City is planning to assess the environmental impact of the proposed routes by hiring a consultant to conduct noise testing and modeling of existing and proposed routes. There was continued discussion of fixed-wing routes in relation to helicopter routes. No actions were taken. The meeting was adjourned to Tuesday, June 21, at 6:30 PM.
On April 21, 2011, the Helicopter Committee met to discuss fixed-wing routes in relation to the proposed helicopter routes. The Committee approved the creation of a Sub-Committee to advise the City on technical aspects of its response to the FAA's April 15 letter (See below); approved sending a request to the FAA asking for a modification of their "Missed Approach" procedure which will help keep planes (using that procedure) to the north of the West PCH Helicopter Route; agreed to continue discussing suggestions on how to keep fixed-wing planes separate from the proposed helicopter routes for safety; and continued the meeting to Wednesday, May 11, 2011, at 6:30 PM. The Committee members seem to agree that planes taking off to the west should maintain the runway headings, staying well north of the stretch of PCH which is in Torrance, and they should generally hit the coastline somewhere near the Redondo Beach pier.
On April 15, 2011, the FAA sent a letter (See copy) responding to the City's request. It states the FAA will initiate an aeronautical analysis and they expect it will be accomplished within 120 days. The FAA also asked the City how it plans to evaluate the trial routes (assuming the FAA gives its approval). On February 24, 2011, the City sent a letter (See copy) to the FAA requesting its review and approval of the City's proposed routes.
On February 8, 2011, the City's proposed helicopter routes were approved by SCAUWG (Southern California Airspace Users Working Group).
On Tuesday, February 1, 2011, the Torrance City Council accepted the recommendations of the Helicopter Committee, including the recommended higher minimum altitudes, as follows:
West PCH Departures: AT OR ABOVE 1400' MSL (above mean sea level)
West PCH Arrivals: AT OR ABOVE 1200' MSL
South Crenshaw: AT OR ABOVE 2000' MSL
Southeast (to and from San Pedro): 1500' MSL
If they are approved by the FAA, the new routes will be put into place on a six month trial basis after they are published.
On January 13, 2011, the Torrance Airport Commission considered the Helicopter Committee's recommendations. The Commission voted to REJECT the Committee's recommended altitudes on all three helicopter routes (which vary from 1200' to 1500' above sea level, depending on the route) and instead substitute language requesting that helicopters fly 600' above sea level, or higher for noise abatement when consistent with safety. The recommendations are expected to go to the City Council for consideration on February 1, 2011.
On January 6, 2011, the fifth Helicopter Committee meeting was held. The Committee approved recommendations for the West PCH Route which include altitude changes. On departure, pilots would be advised to climb as quickly as possible to 1400' MSL above PCH and Avenue I and stay at that level until crossing the shoreline. On arrivals they would enter from the shoreline at Avenue I at 1200' MSL, remain at that level above PCH, and not begin descending until passing South High School.
On December 14, 2010, the fourth Helicopter Committee meeting was held. The Committee approved wording for the Southeast route to be flown at cruise altitude of 1500' MSL and cross the reservoir near PV Drive North and PV Drive East. Also, approved was wording for the South Crenshaw route to climb to at or above 2000' MSL by the top of PV, to crass Del Cerro Park, and to cross the ocean 1/2 mile west of the horseshoe east of Tarranea resort.
On December 2, 2010, the third Helicopter Committee meeting was held. I submitted additional information to the Committee on helicopter climb rates, altitudes and noise levels. (See memo dated 11/29/10) Conceptual agreement was reached to use the reservoir at PV Drive North and PV Drive East as a landmark for the Southeast Route. The Committee discussed extending the Crenshaw Route all the way to the least populated area of the shoreline near the Abalone Cove area. The climb rate for the Robinson R-22 was discussed. It was noted that a fully loaded R-22 can climb to an altitude of 1400' MSL by Anza Avenue on the West PCH Route. (An R-22 not fully loaded and the newer R-44 and R-66 helicopters can climb more quickly.) Robinson is still discussing the West PCH Route with the Control Tower relative to keeping helicopters separate from fixed wing to determine how high helicopters can fly on this route. We also discussed the need for better monitoring systems to help with compliance to designated routes. This subject is still on the list to be discussed at a future meeting. Finally, City staff was asked to define what the City thinks is a reasonable level of noise for a helicopter at cruise altitude. On November 17, 2010, the second Helicopter Committee meeting was held. I submitted handouts showing noise footprints above 62.5 dB for helicopters at different altitudes. Above 60 dB, noise begins to interfere with speech communications. Tests show that for a helicopter flying at 1000' the footprint of noise above 62.5 dB is 2/3 mile wide; at 1400' it's 1/2 mile wide; and at 2000' it's just below the helicopter. (See Powerpoint slides) This supports our request that helicopters fly above 2000'. We briefly discussed the altitude helicopters can fly on the West PCH Route. Helicopter operators were asked to bring their recommended altitude to the next meeting.
On November 4, 2010, the first Helicopter Committee meeting was held. Committee members include the FAA, helicopter operators, City staff and community representatives. It was determined that there has never been an environmental assessment of the impact of helicopter routes on the community. Neither the City, nor the FAA, nor helicopter operators have ever done comprehensive helicopter noise testing from the ground. We submitted the results of our noise testing to the Committee. These tests show that, of 230 flyovers tested, almost all of them produced unacceptable levels of noise on the ground. We suggested that an acceptable level of noise should be below 60 dB. This is the level of noise considered "acceptable" in a "low ambient noise area" (Torrance residential areas), as explained in the Helicopter Association International Noise Abatement Training Program. We also documented that the acoustics industry, and airport noise consultants, have recognized that noise begins to interfere with outdoor speech at 60 dB. Interfering with speech on the ground is not "acceptable." One operator suggested 65 dB should be acceptable, but he was unable to explain the basis for that opinion. The way noise is measured, 65 dB sounds 50% louder to the human ear than 60 dB. It's a big difference. This issue was left unresolved.
From July through September, 2010, the City of Torrance hosted three roundtable meetings to discuss helicopter noise. A FEW DAYS AFTER THE FIRST MEETING, THE COAST GUARD ANNOUNCED IT WOULD DISCONTINUE ROUTINE TRANSIT FLIGHTS OVER TORRANCE RESIDENTIAL AREAS. At the third roundtable meeting there was a consensus reached that the local Helicopter Route Agreement should be reopened and revised. A smaller Committee was formed for that purpose.
On Tuesday, December 22, 2009 our petition was submitted to Torrance's Mayor and City Council.