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The Flyaway Bus Terminal – Second Floor Community Meeting Room
7610 Woodley Avenue
Van Nuys, CA 91406

GO INSIDE – take elevator at north end of the building to 2nd floor –                                                                         turn right to the end of the hall

PARK FREE out front in the spaces closest to Woodley Avenue

 

November 1, 2016 – Agenda: 7:00 p.m. 

VAN NUYS FLYAWAY 

2ND FLOOR CONFERENCE ROOM 

7610 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406 

(Public comments are heard after Council discussion of each agenda item.) 

CALL TO ORDER – CHAIR ELLIOT SANDERS 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF October 4, 2016 

  1. STAFF REPORTS 
  2. Year in Preview Report – Discussion/Action 
  3. REPORT FROM THE CHAIR 
  4. Working Group Reports – Discussion/Action 

Membership – David Rankell, Chairperson 

Outreach & Communications – Ron Merkin, Chairperson 

VNY Noise Issues – Gerald Silver, Chairperson 

VNY Helicopter Issues – Wayne Williams, Chairperson 

Social Media Outreach – Vahid Khorsand, Chairperson 

Rainwater Reclamation – Craig Welzbacher, Chairperson 

  1. BOAC AGENDA ITEMS CONCERNING VNY 
  2. PUBLIC COMMENT – NON-AGENDA ITEMS – Discussion 
  3. NEW BUSINESS 
  4. OLD BUSINESS 
  5. 2017 UC Davis Noise Symposium – Discussion/Action 
  6. EMERGENCY ITEMS SINCE POSTING OF AGENDA – Discussion/Action 
  7. ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS’ COMMENTS – NON-AGENDA ITEMS 
  8. ADJOURNMENT 

NEXT MEETING: January 3, 2017 

VAN NUYS FLYAWAY

2ND FLOOR CONFERENCE ROOM

7610 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406

****

Los Angeles Area Helicopter Coalition (LAAHNC)

 

Newsletter, October 2016

FAA FAILS TO COLLABORATE ON HELICOPTER NOISE
WHY VOLUNTARY EFFORTS WILL NEVER WORK

In January, 2014, legislation was passed by Congress and signed by the President directing the FAA to continue to “collaborate” with the community on voluntary routes and altitudes to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles County.  We, the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Coalition (LAAHNC), represent the community in this process.  The FAA was given one year to make significant progress.  Otherwise, the legislation directed the FAA to begin the regulatory process (leading to mandatory flight rules).

By the end of 2014 no changes to routes or altitudes had been achieved.  From the beginning we proposed the establishment of an offshore route and eventually requested that it be set at least one-half mile offshore.  The last stakeholder meeting on this subject was in June, 2015.  At that time the FAA was proposing a route one-quarter mile offshore, but no agreement was reached.

Then, a year later, on June 22, 2016, the FAA implemented a 500 foot wide voluntary route centered only 750 feet offshore.  This puts helicopters as close as 500 feet (less than one-tenth of a mile) from the shoreline.

This route was agreed to by the FAA and pilots without notifying us and without our participation.  Nor was it discussed with the County or any of the eleven affected cities along the coastline.  Thus, the FAA’s actions were contrary to Congress’ direction to “collaborate” with the community.

In our opinion, this route will do nothing to reduce helicopter noise on the shoreline.  It merely reflects the average distance offshore that helicopters were already flying.  Moreover, it recommends no minimum altitude.  At best, it simply reinforces the status quo.  In some places along the shoreline we think it will actually increase noise.  (It also ignores our concerns about the safety of people on the shoreline).

The FAA stated that their noise modeling showed the new route would not have any “significant” noise impacts.  However, the FAA’s threshold for significance is up to a 5 dB increase in noise.  That is a big increase.  Recently, we asked the FAA to share its raw data so we could see the “actual” noise impacts predicted by their model and we could decide for ourselves whether or not they were significant.  But, the FAA denied our request.  So, the FAA is not even providing transparency.  Surely, this is not what Congress had in mind when they directed the FAA to “collaborate” with the community.

Moreover, the FAA ignored their own environmental policies.  For example, the FAA determined their new route was categorically exempt (CATEX) from further environmental review (which also would have required advance public notice) because there were no “extraordinary circumstances.”  However, its own policy lists examples of “extraordinary circumstances” any one of which should have triggered the requirement for more than a CATEX.  They include “an impact on a coastal zone” and “impacts likely to be controversial on environmental grounds.”  Extraordinary circumstances did exist.  The FAA’s finding of “no extraordinary circumstances” was wrong.

The FAA also stated that the CATEX was allowed based on “Establishment or modification of helicopter routes that channel helicopter activity over major thoroughfares….” Major thoroughfares are generally considered to be highways.  The LA County coastline cannot be considered a major thoroughfare.  Again, the FAA’s decision was not consistent with its own environmental order.  It was wrong for the FAA to use this provision to justify a CATEX.

Why was the route set so close to shore?  Because pilots would not agree to anything more.  Why does the FAA defend it?  We think it is because they want to avoid having to develop regulations which the helicopter industry would oppose.  So, the FAA wants to give the “appearance” that that they are making progress with the voluntary approach even though no real progress is being made.

This example should make it clear.  “Collaboration” on “voluntary measures” may sound good, but it does not work.  The only routes the FAA has been willing to consider are “voluntary” routes which require pilot agreement.  The only routes pilots are willing to accept are ones that reflect current practices.  Therefore, voluntary efforts leave the pilots in charge of deciding where and how high to fly and correspondingly how much noise they will impose on the affected public.

We made dozens of suggestions in over 50 stakeholder meetings that began four years ago in 2012.  Yet, we could not get pilots to agree to any of them.  We can spend several more years engaged in dialogue focusing only on voluntary measures, but we cannot expect different results.  Voluntary measures will never result in the changes needed to significantly reduce helicopter noise.

The only real solution to this problem is for the FAA to design helicopter routes that reduce noise to an acceptable level, that can be flown safely, and that pilots are “required” to follow.  This can only be achieved with regulations.

Our elected representatives in Congress should hold the FAA accountable for the lack of progress called for in 2014 and demand that the FAA begin the regulatory process.
LAAHNC BOARD MEMBERS

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