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Congressman Schiff says he will reintroduce helicopter noise bill

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Congressman Adam Schiff says he plans next month to reintroduce a bill on regulating helicopter noise after initial attempts to pass a bill last year in Congress stalled out.

After a meeting on Wednesday with Federal Aviation Administration officials and several homeowners assocations, Congressman Schiff (D-Burbank) said he would reintroduce the Los Angeles Helicopter Noise Relief Act, a bill Congressman Howard Berman proposed before he lost a tough reelection campaign in November.

The bill would require the FAA to regulate helicopter flight paths, minimum altitudes and other helicopter operations in Los Angeles within a year after the president signs it into law. Helicopters are generally unregulated. Law enforcement, emergency, and military helicopters would be exempt from any new rules.

“I think it’s important to have the legislation in the process in case we run into a logjam in terms of the FAA’s action,” Schiff said. “Hopefully they can act without the necessity of legislation but if it is necessary we will be prepared to go forward.”

People concerned about 'copter noise gave FAA officials an earful at an August meeting in Sherman Oaks. They talked about the way low-flying helicopters - including news and traffic craft and sightseeing excusions over celebrity homes - shook windows multiple times  a day and hovered above for long periods of time.

The FAA said agency representatives would continue to meet with stakeholders to hear their recommendations for proposed regulations.

Congressman Schiff said FAA officials explained it would be a tough task to regulate helicopter altitude minimums because of the airspace above Los Angeles is already pretty crowded.

Without a bill, some helicopter users have already adopted some recommendations; news media pooled helicopter coverage of major events like Carmageddon Two and the 12-mile NASA Shuttle Endeavor trip through L.A.

After years of complaints from Long Island residents in New York about helicopters buzzing to the Hamptons, the FAA introduced voluntary regulations in 2008 asking helicopters to fly along the coast of the North Shore. They also suggested that helicopters take off at different times - but eventually the FAA established rules for helicopters that fly over Long Island.

“I do think it’s going to require some mandatory standards of regulations on what the helicopters can do,” Schiff said. “But I do appreciate all the FAA has been doing thus far.”

Wednesday’s FAA meeting was the third and final Los Angeles stakeholder event before officials plan to release a report in May summarizing the testimony collected and the FAA’s proposed actions on any type of helicopter management or regulation.

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