Helicopter Noise eNewsLetter
Why Voluntary Flight Measures Will Never Work!
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February 2016
President's Message
     This month, our Board Members pooled their thoughts and experience to explain Why Voluntary Flight Measures Will Never Work to stop helicopter noise in Los Angeles County. Why won’t they work? Because, communication with all pilots and operators is tenuous, there is no way to track and identify all violators, and there is no method to enforce voluntary measures. Read our feature article to learn more.
     These are the very reasons why we think mandatory flight regulations are the only way to stop the noise. And why LAAHNC filed four petitions with the FAA in late 2015 to regulate helicopter flights in LA County.  So far, the public has made hundreds of comments supporting our petitions. If you have not yet commented, please click the Support Our Regulations button below to see how easy it is. If you have commented, please ask your friends and neighbors to comment too.
     You can click the buttons and links below to forward this eNewsLetter to friends, join our email list, visit our website, learn how to submit helicopter complaints, or read prior eNewsLetters. And, be sure to complain about every noisy helicopter -- which is especially easy to do with the free HeliTracker helicopter complaint app. In January, 6,706 complaints were filed on the FAA complaint system -- 1,200 more than in December -- and the number of these from HeliTracker almost doubled to more than 3,800. So, keep up the good work.
Thank you and enjoy the article.

Bob Anderson, President, LAAHNC


6,706 in January 2016
61,882 since inception
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Why Voluntary Flight Measures Will Never Work
LAAHNC Board Members
     In more than 60 collaborative meetings over the past three years, the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition has met with pilots and the Federal Aviation Administration to develop voluntary flight measures that would reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles County. The result? Not one voluntary measure! Why not? LAAHNC obviously wants measures that will significantly reduce noise, while pilots obviously want measures that won’t limit the way they fly – and the FAA just wants the parties to agree on anything so they can say something has been accomplished. We’re at a stalemate. It’s highly unlikely that such measures can ever be agreed upon.
     But what would happen if the public and pilots actually could all agree on voluntary flight measures? History indicates that this still would not resolve the noise problems. The helicopter industry’s existing voluntary measures (Helicopter Association International Fly Neighborly Guidelines) have been in place for more than 30 years and the noise has only gotten worse.
FAA Advisory Circular AC91.36D already “advises” pilots to fly at least 2,000 feet above ground level over noise sensitive areas, but pilots ignore this advice. We’ve yet to find an example anywhere in the nation where local voluntary measures have actually worked to the satisfaction of the public. So, LAAHNC has filed petitions with the FAA to regulate helicopter flights in LA County – because mandatory regulation is the only way to stop the noise.
     There are three fundamental reasons why voluntary measures will never work.
1. Communication with all pilots and operators is tenuous.
2. There is no way to track and identify all violators.
3. There is no method to enforce voluntary measures.
     Communication with all pilots and operators is tenuous. Believe it or not, only the FAA might be able to communicate with all helicopter pilots and operators in the County, yet we have no firm commitment that they will. In fact, the FAA has never answered our question from 2013 about how many helicopters operate in the County. So, could local helicopter associations provide the necessary communication? There are three helicopter associations in the County, and one association leader told us that there are about 1,000 to 2,000 pilots countywide. The largest local pilot association has less than 200 pilot members, and the local operators association has less than 10 members from the 25 operators countywide. With such low pilot and operator representation, it will be hard for the associations to effectively communicate. Could LAAHNC take responsibility for communication? Since we have no access to the name and contact information of every helicopter pilot and operator that flies in the County, this just won’t work. So, even if we had agreed-upon voluntary measures in place, we couldn’t be certain that every pilot received and understood them, much less accepted and followed them.
     There is no way to track and identify all violators. For voluntary measures to have any impact, we must be able to identify all pilots who violate the measures. We don’t have an easy, effective way to do this and probably never will. The FAA’s Automated Complaint System online flight tracking system (WebTrak) is the only way to identify specific violators, and it is seriously flawed. Many flights simply do not show up on the WebTrak system. Many times, the system cannot even tell the difference between a helicopter and an airplane. Finally, WebTrak rarely provides any unique identifiers like N-Numbers for helicopters. So, there is little hope for identifying all violators.
     There is no method to enforce voluntary measures. For voluntary measures to be of any use whatsoever, they must be enforced. How would that work? Local helicopter associations claim that they will self-enforce the measures. But, they are simply fraternal organizations and have no control over pilots. In fact, associations cannot be too critical of wrongdoing pilots, in fear of losing current and potential members. So, we are more than a bit skeptical of this idea. Pilots have supposedly been self-enforcing the Helicopter Association International Fly Neighborly Guidelines and that has never worked.
     We hoped that LAAHNC could work with the pilots and be part of the self-enforcement process. That makes sense, because at least we could be in the henhouse with the fox. But no, pilots don’t want that. They say it would damage their relationships with their peers. Besides, they say there are pilot privacy issues that must be considered!
     So, what’s the answer? It’s simple. The FAA should enforce the measures. But, they can’t! Why not? Because the FAA has no charter and no capability to enforce anything that is not a regulation. On top of that, the FAA has no capability to fine pilots. In fact, the FAA has told us that they cannot even be a party to any agreements concerning voluntary measures. The FAA simply licenses pilots and requires them to follow mandatory safety regulations. So, aren’t voluntary flight measures worthless if no one can enforce them? Yes, they are!
     The bottom line is simple. Communication with all pilots and operators is tenuous. There is no way to track and identify all violators. There is no method to enforce voluntary measures. Voluntary measures will never work! We need regulations. Now!

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