Relief on the way for helicopter noise?

Never tell folks in the Valley or the Westside to just grin and bear it, as some helicopter pilot suggested to the NYT:

“See how we are flapping right now?” said Esteban Jimenez, a pilot for Hollywood Helicopter Tours, as his four-passenger Robinson R44 Raven II circled at an unnerving 90-degree angle, barely 100 feet over houses below. “That is upsetting everybody. We are at a safe enough distance. But it makes people really upset. I get calls all the time.” Mr. Jimenez kept his helicopter, its blades thumping the air, eye-level with the Hollywood sign. “People don’t understand what’s really going on,” he said. “They really can’t do anything. I could buzz you as long as I keep my distance. We are legal. They don’t control the air space. These are the things we have to do to make a living.”

Guess Mr. Jimenez wasn't familiar with an outfit called the FAA, which does indeed control airspace and can impose all kinds of restrictions on where choppers fly. Rep. Howard Berman, whose Westside district is fed up with all the racket, certainly knows what the FAA can do, and he's introduced legislation to establish rules on flight paths and altitudes (emergency choppers excluded). From the LAT:

Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn., agreed that the helicopters hovering over the closed freeway were a tipping point in residents' frustration, but said the issue has been building over years. "It has definitely gotten worse," he said. "There are now more TV media helicopters, and what we've seen is helicopters out when there's a car chase on the freeway or a fender bender or a small fire.… The media loves to use helicopters to bring the action."

Of course, just because a liberal House Democrat introduces legislation doesn't mean it will get through (Republicans aren't exactly keen on additional regulations). Still, my guess is that chopper pilots will pull back a touch, at least until this latest wave of protest dies down.

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