Legislation that could mandate noise-abatement helicopter routes in the Los Angeles basin was inserted last-minute into the 1,582-page, $1 trillion federal spending bill signed by President Obama late last week. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, both California Democrats, sponsored a rider that calls on the FAA to develop mandatory helicopter noise-abatement regulations and routes within one year if voluntary measures fail to quell citizen complaints.
The FAA is currently working on voluntary measures with major stakeholders and plans to issue a progress report in the coming weeks. The legislation signed into law exempts parapublic flight operations, including police and EMS, which comprise the majority of helicopter flights in the area.
Helicopter noise has long been a hot-button issue in local Los Angeles congressional races, but standalone legislation aimed at the problem, most recently the “Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act,” has not advanced through congressional committees. Aviation groups were quick to denounce the provision. The Professional Helicopter Pilots Association branded it “mistimed, misplaced, misworded and an egregious example of congressional trickery gone awry.”