Hate helicopter noise? Now you can file a complaint with the FAA

Helicopter flies over Los Angeles neighborhoods.  (File Photo. By David McNew/Getty Images)
Helicopter flies over Los Angeles neighborhoods. (File Photo. By David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images

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Los Angeles area residents can now report noisy helicopters flying over their homes and businesses. On Tuesday, a countywide phone and online Automated Complaint System (ACS) went live.

“It gives the community, the FAA and the helicopter pilots an opportunity to see what the hotspots are, where most people are disturbed by helicopter noise,” said Wayne Williams, a member of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition, one of the groups who pushed for the creation of the hotline.

ACS creates a means for tracking chopper noise pollution. It also creates a centralized portal for this data – one of the recommendations made in a 2013 FAA report on mitigating helicopter noise in Los Angeles. Before this, individual airports or helicopter companies took noise complaints, but not all – that made it difficult to quantify the problem.

There are also no firm rules for how low or high a helicopter must fly. The Helicopter Noise Coalition wants the FAA to require pilots, wherever safely possible, to fly at 2,000 feet above ground level for non-emergency flights.

Chuck Street, executive director of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Operators Association, said many helicopter pilots servicing the tourist industry, particularly those flying around the Hollywood sign, fly at approximately 900 feet above ground level.

Street said forcing pilots to fly at higher altitudes can be dangerous because of plane traffic.

“What we’re afraid of is some type of official rule-making that would be a blunt instrument and severely restrict our activity,” he said.

Street said he is looking forward to reviewing data collected from the complaint system to see if there is in fact a significant number of people making complaints.

“The FAA expects the information collected will help identify patterns and trends in helicopter operations, improve understanding of community reaction to helicopter noise, and inform future efforts to develop and implement noise abatement measures,” said FAA spokesperson Ian McGregor in an email.

How it works

The FAA allocated $250,000 to contract with flight-tracking company Bruel & Kjaer to run the complaint system and collect data from it for one year.

Anyone can call 424-348-HELI to make a helicopter noise complaint or complete an online form at heli-noise-la.com.

Residents can also investigate noisy choppers by tracking them on the website’s map. It allows users to go back in time and see which aircraft flew over their homes – as well as find out more information about when the craft flew by; what its flight path was; and how low it was in the sky.