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Cory Harden

September 21, 2020

Mahalo for holding these meetings. Please consider the following:

Impacts from tour aircraft are severe.
Twenty-one people died, just in the past year, in three tour helicopter/ small aircraft crashes–Kailua, Dillingham Field, and Kaua’i. It is unconscionable that the industry and FAA still claim the operations are safe and no changes are needed, and that the response of this task force is mostly silence.

Also, before the pandemic shut down operations, repeated and widespread concerns about noise and vibration from helicopters were ignored. The noise terrifies children and animals, sets off PTSD in war veterans,
repeatedly intrudes on sleep and social interactions, and causes inescapable stress. On Hawai’i Island, during the eruption, tour helicopters kept flying, over people who were losing their homes, their neighborhoods, and their livelihoods.

In 2016 there were almost 16,000 overflights of Volcano National Park, the most for any national park. The park is part of the federal wilderness system, and is an International Biosphere Reserve designated by the United Nations. It should not be subjected to aviation noise. And,to get to the park, all these helicopters had to pass over homes.

In August 2018, with great fanfare, a committee was formed in Hilo to address helicopter noise. It was announced at a community meeting that drew 200 people, including residents who were so irate they were talking about shooting down helicopters. No one from Hawai’i Island Coalition Malama Pono (HICoP) was invited to be on the committee. And since then, as far as I know, the committee has done….absolutely nothing.

It is possible to just say no.

At Crater Lake, in 2012, National Park officials were given the final say on where tour helicopters could fly. (1)

At Macchu Picchu, in 2010, helicopters were banned from the area, and from 125 square miles around it, to protect wildlife. (2)

I urge that these actions be taken:

Do an Environmental Impact Statement for the air tour industry. It’s long overdue.

Allow live-time location by installing Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) Out equipment on all aircraft. The Kaua’i helicopter that crashed didn’t have this, so first responders were put at risk trying to find the crash.

Require air traffic control for airspace under 4,000 feet used by tour aircraft.

Require all pilots to be certified to fly in inclement weather.

Establish a statewide database, publicly accessible, to identify safety and noise violations, and actions taken in response.
Add the Hawaii Helicopter Offshore Route Appendix to FAA Rule 14 CFR Part 93 so aircraft must stay one mile offshore.

Restrict air tours to fixed routes that can only be changed by approval from a government agency.

Add a prohibition on tour aircraft noise footprints entering occupied properties, in Hawaii Airports Division Tour Aircraft Permit prerequisites.

Install noise reduction equipment on all aircraft.

Dedicate staff from an agency such as Department of Health to respond to complaints made to Plane Noise. Fund the program with permit fees.

Require identification numbers on the underside of aircraft, as large as possible,

Give altitude and noise meters to community representatives,

Have State Department of Health do unannounced noise checks.

Make the Hawai’i Air Tour Common Procedures Manual available to the public online and in print.

Address all issues as one integrated statewide issue–don’t divide them up by area. For HANSTF meetings, don’t cherry-pick areas with fewer air tour impacts; welcome all residents at all meetings; and publicize the meetings better.

Include community people on HANSTF.

Final thoughts
The people of Hawai’i have been subjected to air tour hazards and noise for 60 years. Isn’t that enough?

Post Author: HANSTF