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Don't Hold Your Breath For Helecopter Noise Restrictions

FAA, Van Nuys Airport, LAWA, Bob Hope Airport, Noise restrictions

It must be the election season because Congressman Berman is, demanding restrictions on helicopter traffic to provide Encino residents with noise relief. This is the second time this year the congressman has grabbed headlines with a demand that the FAA do something to restrict noise. It was only a few months ago that he and his rival for reelection, Brad Sherman co-authored a  law calling for night time curfew at Burbank - Bob Hope Airport between 11 PM and 7 AM. The Bob Hope measure failed to get any traction in the House of Representatives.

What Mr. Berman knows better than anyone is that neither he nor anyone else in Congress can grant the relief residents seek. It is the FAA and not the congressman that determines air traffic routes and restrictions on aircraft flights. The article accurately points out that Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) as the operator of Van Nuys Airport will need to conduct studies to see whether rerouting helicopter traffic is warranted and then submit their findings to the Federal Aviation Administration for review.

The study process is not automatic because a congressman demands a study be done. LAWA will need to apply for the funding and then conduct the study under the scrutiny of the FAA. The studies are not cheap either. The cost of conducting the study is paid for out of passenger facility charges and other user fees, not by the offending helicopter operators.

While there are those who will say I am a naysayer, I ask that you ask Congressman Berman the following questions:

How many times has called for flight restrictions at Bob Hope Airport and Van Nuys Airport and how many restriction have they won?

Ask him, how many flight restrictions have been imposed by the FAA nationwide?

Finally, he was quoted in the Patch as saying, “The buck stops here because it is simply unacceptable for residents to be forced to contend with these brazen helicopter operators on their own. This bill requires the regulations that will give residents the relief and increased safety they are so desperately looking for.” What does he mean? Is he willing to take responsibility should restrictions not be obtained? Don’t count on it.

Mr. Berman knows the FAA rules. He knows the likelihood of success of a noise study and he has determined that he comes out looking good for going on the record once again as being against aircraft noise. Just another political stunt we all get to pay for.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ellen Vukovich September 15, 2011 at 08:41 PM
I understand what you are saying about Berman's introducing a bill to regulate helicopter noise. And, am well familiar with FAA protocols. However, the circumstances that warranted Berman taking action has much to do with the lack of provision regulating copters hovering over residential neighborhoods at 4:00 a.m., etc. How can anyone argue against someone trying to get some peace and quiet for residents? I don't know about you, but I certainly know what it is like to experience the constant noise and vibration throughout my home whenever copters hover, i.e., usually the media trying to grab a picture of a celebrity who resides near or on Mulholland. It is horrific. You can't escape it.
Sean McCarthy September 16, 2011 at 03:23 AM
Mr. Berman should meet with the heads of all the local television and radio news departments and ask them to voluntarily stop the low flights. This is the strategy used by the Bob Hope Airport and the City of Burbank to get a VOLUNTARY night time curfew and then, ONLY on commercial operations. The voluntary curfew was the only option because the FAA continues to refuse to impose a night time ban on flights at Bob Hope Airport. Mr. Berman should ask Bob Hope Airport and Burbank City officials how they got the airlines to agree to a curfew. It makes more sense than holding a press conference and then waiting for the FAA to act. The bottom line is that, whether we like it or not, aircraft are permitted to operate under the regulation of the FAA and not local standards. The states generally lacks jurisdiction to do much more than complain. Those are the rules and this is the world we all live in.
Ellen Vukovich September 16, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Ah, but rules can be changed. It happens all of the time. And, who knows what is quietly being worked out behind the scenes?
Scott Killeen September 16, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Mrs. Vukovich, is that you personally speaking of "but rules can be changed. It happens all of the time." or are you speaking for SOHA? I'm asking because in the recent SOHA newsletter it mentions you write on behalf of SOHA. If so, what is SOHA stance on the noise pollution caused by excessive helicopter usage for news coverage of events in Sherman Oaks.
Sean McCarthy September 16, 2011 at 07:43 PM
What do you think Mr. Berman is doing to relieve all our noise problems? Can we get an update?
Ellen Vukovich September 16, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Mr. Killen - That was my humble opinion. When I blog for Patch (or write the newspaper column), that's for SOHA. Thanks for the good question - SOHA's position on airport noise pollution on excessive helicopter usage is longstanding - it needs to be regulated. For decades,we have had standing committees and/or members working on airport noise issues for both Van Nuys and Burbank Airports. Recently, we worked with Congress Member Berman on the bill discussed by Mr. McCarthy.
Ellen Vukovich September 16, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Sorry, I didn't see Mr. McCarthy's question earlier. I suggest coming to SOHA's September 21 meeting. Pearl, Berman's head Valley staffer usually attends. I am sure she would be happy to answer any questions. 6:15PM - Notre Dame High School. Riverside/Woodman.
Scott Killeen September 16, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Mrs. Vukovich, so when you blog it's for SOHA but any reply to another story here on the Patch, that's you personally responding? Right? This question is to Mrs. Vukovich of SOHA, with SOHA having long standing committees about airport noise issues, why are Sherman Oaks residences in this predicament now over the problem? I have always used the website http://www331.webtrak-lochard.com/webtrak/vny4 for complaints against low flying aircraft. There is an actual complaint form to address noise problems.
Justin Leavens September 17, 2011 at 06:37 AM
Filling out forms to complain doesn't do any more good than calling a phone number to leave a message about loud airplanes, or calling a TV newsroom to ask why they feel the need to wake up hundreds of people just so they can do a traffic report from a hovering platform. If complaining locally was going to change something, it would have been changed. If Mr. McCarthy or Mr. Killeen have a secret magic answer for solving the problem of frivolous hovering of helicopters over residential neighborhoods, let them tell us. For whatever reason, they seem more interested in grilling Ms. Vukovich over the hat she's wearing. In the meantime, I'll accept whatever help we can get - at the local, state, or federal level - to put curfews on news helicopters.
Scott Killeen September 17, 2011 at 07:11 AM
Humm...when someone promotes "For decades, we have had standing committees and/or members working on airport noise issues for both Van Nuys and Burbank Airports.", I would have expected to not have this kind of situation happening! Obviously Justin believes I'm wrong in asking? WHY? So Justin, filling out forms to complain about noise from airports doesn't do any good? How do you actual know this? And why are they noise sensors set up around the valley to monitor airport traffic noise? How nice of you to accept any help we can get about helicopter noise problems, what the heck do you think everyone else is doing? Now why on earth is there a website like this? Please read it Justin.... http://www.lawa.org/welcome_VNY.aspx?id=1210
Sean McCarthy September 17, 2011 at 04:44 PM
You are more likely to win the lottery or to be abducted by aliens than see restrictions on airplane noise and flight restrictions. The laws governing interstate commerce very plainly favor railroads, truckers and aircraft, especially when they pay to use highways and airports. The politicians know this and they still play the public for fools claiming that, "together we can stop the noise." Burbank has been fighting with the Bob Hope Airport for decades. The airport and city spent Millions of dollars on lawyers and expensive public studies and yet there are no mandatory restrictions on flights and no enforceable curfews. What Burbank did win was a temporary victory over land use. It did nothing to restrict flights or reduce aircraft noise. Congress could do something about aircraft noise but it is unlikely to pass a law just for Van Nuys Airport, Bob Hope Airport or LAX. Airport neighbors should apply for some of the airport's home sound insulation grant money. If you're not near the airport and you are bothered by noise install the windows and chimney dampers recommended by LAX, at your own expense. Mr. Berman could ask Paul Koretz and the City of Los Angeles to extend the LAWA airport noise insulation program to the rest of Encino and Sherman Oaks. Sorry to deliver the bad news but someone needs to be honest in this debate.
Justin Leavens September 18, 2011 at 01:34 AM
I don't need a fancy website, a compliant form, or anything other than common sense to know that helicopters involved in anything other than public safety have no business hovering over residential neighborhoods in the early morning hours. Noise from planes out of Van Nuys seems to have been reduced significantly in the past few years, I find a lot fewer instances where I have to pause a phone conversation or a TV program to wait for a plane to pass. However, the number of times we are interrupted by an early morning hovering news copter or have the house shaken and car alarms set off by a low-flying copter have greatly increased. You guys seem like you know an awful lot about this, so if you've got better ideas then let's hear 'em. All ears here, since I'm assuming that your solution isn't to do nothing. Bashing our federal representative for trying to act on behalf of their constituents and keeping this issue on the table is petty and unhelpful.
Sean McCarthy September 18, 2011 at 04:08 AM
Your elected officials, especially the Feds know exactly what I have been saying. Demand a straight answers from them.
Scott Killeen September 18, 2011 at 04:20 AM
Justin, who is bashing a local official? Your assumption is WRONG about me not doing anything. You obviously don't attend any local neighborhood events, do you? I always wondered WHY a FEDEX plane from Burbank always made a hard north turn causing more noise over my neighborhood. I found out the pilot lived in the area and would request a sharp turn from Burbank tower, SO he could fly over his house and his kids knew it was Dad flying above them. REALLY! My complaint, in writing went to the DOA at LAX and the President of FEDEX! FYI- a certain type of older jet engines have been outlawed to operate out of VN hence quieter Van Nuys air traffic. Southwest Airline dropped almost 200 flights from Burbank airport, hence a quieter Burbank air traffic noise.
Scott Killeen September 18, 2011 at 04:20 AM
I suggest you read the second response to this article, Mr. McCarthy wrote. "Berman should meet with the heads of all the local television and radio news departments and ask them to voluntarily stop the low flights. The strategy used by the Bob Hope Airport and the City of Burbank to get a VOLUNTARY night time curfew." I can see a problem with the altitudes having to be low for helicopters because of requirement of Burbank airspace for commercial flights. How about limiting the news copters to one per event and all stations share using a combined video feed? What about allowing a news copter to hover for one minute only? No stationary (hovering) for traffic reports? Your right I do know an awful lot about this situation...
A. Dweeb September 18, 2011 at 06:31 AM
are you saying that a plane took off from burbank, flew over your house, sunnyslope @ the 101, made an intentional turn to say hello, and you were able to see that it was a fedex plane? and you stopped the shenanigans?
A. Dweeb September 18, 2011 at 06:38 AM
man come on! try! it's "you are right"... "you're right". this is third grade stuff. you come off like a doofus. you're not a doofus are you?
Justin Leavens September 18, 2011 at 06:50 AM
Mr McCarthy's assertion was that Berman's demand for a study was a waste of taxpayers money. "Just another political stunt we all get to pay for" born from "election season". Which is essentially a way of saying that Berman's constituents don't have a legitimate complaint and should just shut the hell up. Or rely on the current efforts to curb noise - which I think we can all agree have accomplished nothing in regard to the helicopters. Sure, your suggestions are all common sense. But considering that this situation has been going on for years and years, why do you think news stations would suddenly voluntarily agree to put limits on using these multimillion dollar air assets? They haven't responded to community pressure, or just recognize plain common decency. They would only agree to such restrictions either in exchange for some something in return, or out of fear that they could be restricted even further than that by government action. They've already proved that no pressure on them produces no changes. So great - work the local angles. I'm glad people are doing that. But don't be so naive to think that unless the local newsrooms have a reason to fear a worse outcome, they're not going to voluntarily agree to anything. Forcing a study keeps that heat on.
A. Dweeb September 18, 2011 at 07:10 AM
living here i'm resigned to the fact that it's always gonna be something. if it's not planes & helicopters, it's my neighbor blasting music, or it's a leafblower and or chainsaw, or it's a dog or a garbage truck. i'm thinking if i want peace i have to go the way of the unibomber & go build a shack in the woods somewhere. it aint gonna happen in sherman oaks
Scott Killeen September 19, 2011 at 12:25 AM
A.Dweeb, I love the fact that my grammar pisses you off, priceless. AND you thought the SONC was being paid, you're a real gem... I must say Dweebie you are a better person than me, you prove it every time you post for nothing, I'm sorry I'm a doofus. Hey, thanks for opening your mouth and NOT putting up that animal welfare website you said you could! You are a really good person...
Scott Killeen September 19, 2011 at 12:38 AM
A.Deewbie, you know so much...have you ever looked at the http://www331.webtrak-lochard.com/webtrak/vny4 website, hey even a doofus like me has...how about you do some homework before opening your mOuth and blab away knowing nothing. You are right again, YES, I like to think I helped stopped some shenanigans but it still happens once in a while. If you would actually do more than look at a google map page for my house, you might actually learn something. Oh yeah, it helped when the ACTUAL FEDEX PLANE PILOT TOLD ME IT'S HIM THAT FLY'S THE PLANE THAT MAKES THE HARD RIGHT TURNS NORTHBOUND close to my neighborhood...not over my house, over HIS HOUSE! Oh right I'm a doofus, I just post crap like you on the Patch for no reason, thought or truth.
Sean McCarthy September 21, 2011 at 09:46 PM
For the record the kind of helicopter noise study could cost $100,000 and likely much more. The study would likely need to be approved by the FAA even though LAX would be the agency conducting the study for two reasons: 1. the study could restrict air traffic and 2. The money will come from fees collected by the airport. Since Van Nuys is an FAA airport they are likely the source of the funds to be used. It could take months and probably more than a year to conduct the study depending on what it is airport wants to study. Combine the costs along with the historic resistance of the FAA and LAWA to impose flight restriction in general and you have a bleak picture of the future of helicopter noise restrictions. That is why I recommend going after the sources of the noise, the news agencies that hover endlessly over breaking stories.
Wayne Williams September 24, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Yes of course it's political, and nothing is a waste of time if it raises public awareness and has the support of the community. Doing nothing, always proves to be certain failure. Consistent efforts on multiple tracks do provide results as has been proven with our efforts with Stage 2 Jets. The fact that Larry Welk Jr. (Angel City/HPA) is so concerned about laws effecting his business that he is finally coming to the VNY CAC asking to work with him and his pilots to lower their impact on our neighbors privacy. Berman caused this to happen by his action. The result may well be better neighbor friendly flight procedures, perhaps the firing of a few bad apple pilots. The pilots & the media outlets are (with the current rules) the solution to the problem. The community needed to get their attention, BERMAN DID THAT! Long term solutions like Berman proposes are also possible. The Hawaiian Islands are a good example. Being cynical or disillusioned on what effect politicians, citizens or the process only benefits those who don't want change. Lack of evidence is a powerful tool for those who want status quo. Reporting noise is acted upon by the VNY/LAWA noise officers who care a great deal about noise, and work to penalize violators where appropriate. If you focus on what you want, and not what bothers you and follow the axiom, "where you look is where you go." then all things are possible. Stand up, Speak up, act! Wayne Williams Board Member / VNY CAC
Sean McCarthy September 24, 2011 at 10:34 PM
You have made my point. Forget the endless FAA studies. They will take years and gain you next to nothing. Reread what I wrote last week. Go to the source of the noise and try to work with in thei case Larry Welk. But don't take my word for it. Even Councilmember Koretz in his comments to the Patch earlier this week said the city can't do anything about aircraft noise. I'm not certain what Mr. Berman has done. Stage 2 restrictions are becoming more the norm only because older aircraft are being phased out. Noise is being reduced because technology has changed, not because of Mr. Berman's reolutions. Continue to talk to Larry Welk and his association. That makes more sense that putting your faith in the FAA.
Wayne Williams September 24, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Actually Sean, I believe you feel all but talking to pilots is a waste of time. If we were able to and they listened, fine... but that didn't' work! We reached out to Stage 2 jet pilots and owners for many years, we would still be living with their noise and abuse because no laws held them back. Sorry, I know what worked and why. It took all approaches to implement the Phase Out of State 2 jets. because I was a part of that arduous process. You could not be more wrong, but you may hold your ground if you wish. The studies, the laws, the pressure all worked together to implement the new laws and limitations. It took time and money because the industry was so resistant. Now that the pressure is on all around, the HPA is finally realizing we do have the ability to limit their abuses, and they know they have the ability to do the right thing now hoping we will not move forward. The City has little specific power to implement a change, but their voice adds to that of other cities that create pressure to make these pilots act appropriately. If that does not work quickly, the more quickly Congress and the FAA will have to act if the pressure continues to build. We will continue to talk to pilots, and most do listen, but when they don't, as has been the case with a few, government action must be an option, no matter how long it takes.
Sean McCarthy September 24, 2011 at 11:10 PM
I guess we will know who is right when you get the restrictions you are looking for.
Wayne Williams September 24, 2011 at 11:25 PM
No Sean, we will know when the noise quiets to a whisper whether the people wanted a solution or not. There is no right or wrong, only solutions. It often takes many approaches to have a viable effect. That is my point. For the people who speak out, the more pressure, the more likely a solution will come forward. Just talking without the pressure from other angles does not work when you have those few pilots who don't care what others think, feel or how they impact others lives. The appropriate approach is to move on all fronts. Berman, Sherman, Shiff, Assembly, Senate, City Council members, other cities and states let alone the public here in LA, acting on many fronts create the solution that becomes a lasting reality. Now we will see if the people care enough to keep the pressure on. This action brought the HPA forward, smart move, need to see results next. I look forward to seeing those pilots who have turned their noses down on the public begin to act like adults and fly higher, quieter and during the mid day hours without waking people at 5am or 11pm just to run a news story that keeps residents abused and invades their privacy. They have the technology to do this, there are no excuses except the few pilots and editors in the newsrooms who feel they can do what ever they want when ever they want without concern for others lives.
Scott Killeen September 28, 2011 at 02:30 PM
SOHA is so on top of the noise problems in Sherman Oaks, they still list James Hahn as Mayor, Jack Weiss and Wendy Greuel as the Sherman Oaks council member representatives on their website! It says you are better off complaining directly to them. http://www.sohainfo.com/index_files/page0003.html
Sean McCarthy September 28, 2011 at 03:16 PM
If anyone cares to hear real noise, a combination of aircraft, traffic, loud Harley's, race cars as well as sirens and every other kind of urban clatter, spend a night at my house at Balboa and Magnolia. Helicopters really are one of many regular annoyances.

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