Site Loader

Bruce Lum Lum

September 22, 2020

I have testified and commented on numerous occasions regarding Helicopter safety and noise pollution on Oahu. I submit the following testimony to the Honolulu City Council, because it is representative of the numerous State Legislature and City & County of Honolulu bills, resolutions and ordinances that have been open to public participation in 2019 and 2020.

September 3, 2019

Committee on Public Safety and Welfare (PSW)
City & County of Honolulu
Honolulu Hale
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Re: Support for Resolution 19-188

Aloha kākou Chair Anderson and council members,
I am in full support of this resolution, because I think that in view of the recent commercial helicopter
crashes and deaths on Oneawa Street, Kailua and at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center, it is very clear that
the “honor code” method of providing safety and protections for public safety and national security is
not effective and correction is long over due.

I have lived in my Aiea home for over 58 years and the tour aircraft flying directly over my house has
increased from a handful of military helicopters and occasional emergency aircraft over the first 27
years. The present commercial aircraft and helicopter count is as high as 20/hr from 6:45a to 7:45p every
day. That means 260 total aircraft over my house from just one of 3 flight tracks daily during the
summer. My estimate of an average number of commercial aircraft over my house is 300 to 320 per day,
every day, coming from a minimum 3 tracks daily.

BTW, the 300-320 estimate does not include the military helicopters that fly directly over my house as
frequently as 60 times a day (out and return flights) from 7am to 10pm every day of the week. They fly
at 400ft to 600ft over my house and they are extremely noisy and vibrate my window glass and walls.
Since I have an unobstructed view of Pearl Harbor and the west-side out to the Ewa plains, I have a
unique opportunity to have a line-of-sight observation of the air space over Pearl Harbor. For national
security reasons, it is very alarming to witness the helicopters I am tracking visually and by Flight
Radar24 app, because they all seem to have a total disregard for national security of our most strategic
naval harbor in the world. It is stunning to see how long they linger over and how low they are allowed
to hover and move about Ford Island, the sub-base, Arizona Memorial and the iconic “Golf ball”
intelligence gathering vessel. Aggressive commercial helicopter traffic over Pearl Harbor seems to be of
little or no concern to the base command at Pearl Harbor. For heaven’s sake, we have nuclear warheads
that could be compromised by a commercial helicopter crash!

Since being able to track the commercial tour aircraft with Flight Radar24 app I am able to see that the
tour companies use three basic tracks every hour of every day. One track goes east and a 2nd goes west.
The east track heads out from Lagoon Drive towards Diamond Head to multiple windward and north
shore sites and then back to Lagoon Drive after lingering at Pearl Harbor sites. The west #1 track heads
out towards West Lock and Koʻolina, lingers over multiple Pearl Harbor sites and returns to Lagoon
Drive. A 3rd track follows the west #1 track, but continues to the north shore and loops back around and
over the Kualoa-Koolau ridge and back over my house and to Pearl Harbor then back to Lagoon Drive.
I have a growing archive of Flight Radar24 screen shots of all the aircraft I have tracked and 30% of
those records have ID, make/model of aircraft, location and track information. I am currently working
on logging and photographing all of the aircraft I can, because 90% of the aircraft are flying under 500
feet over my house. I make the time to track and log the aircraft traffic, because the noise is very
disruptive and intrusive. The sheer volume of aircraft flights over my house significantly increases the
odds of a tragic crash in my neighborhood and surrounding populated areas.

I had to do research on the issue of getting government help for this issue. Here’s a summary of what I
was told by air traffic control sources:
1. The state handles most of the noise complaints, the number is 888-697-7813. There is a national
FAA noise complaint number, 424-405-8020, but since they take calls from all over the country,
I don’t know how much attention your call will get.
(I have tried to get help and information from these contact numbers, but with failure each and
every time.)
2. The following applies to VFR helicopters only, fixed wings have their own guidelines:
There is a noise abatement program in place for Honolulu, but pilot participation is entirely
3. VFR helicopters must be 500 ft or above populated areas, so the engine noise will be heard.
There are no time of day or night restrictions to operate VFR.
4. Maybe a petition of community members might be another option.
At the very minimum, requiring all commercial tour aircraft to broadcast their tracking information
under the penalty of law, would add immensely to safer aircraft operations over Oʻahu. For added
safety, I recommend that a minimum altitude requirement for commercial tour aircraft that fly over
populated neighborhoods be legally set at 1000 ft. from aircraft to “roof tops”; the current 1500 ft. from
aircraft to “floor” does not satisfactorily compensate for the “slope” of the ground where so many
neighborhoods are located.

Since I am at Ala Moana Beach Park on a daily basis, I have frequently witnessed a very troubling tour
helicopter practice by the helicopter company that operates helicopters that look identical to the original
Magnum P.I. TV show model that TC flew (black, yellow & orange striped motif). All of the other
helicopters have a flight track over the the surf break edge of the reef. The Magnum P.I. look-alike
makes it a point to come in and over the swim channel at about 300 feet altitude and maintain a line that
uses Diamond Head as a target point until well past the Magic Island-Ala Wai channel. This practice is
frivolous and irresponsible in my opinion and should be immediately prohibited, because it is a gross
disregard for best practice and basic safety guidelines.

Based on recent crashes, my tracking of aircraft over my house, the large volume of commercial tour
aircraft flying over residential areas in my area and Pearl Harbor, the significant growth of the
commercial air tour flights over Oʻahu and the absence of effective safety metrics and regulations on
commercial air tour aircraft, I am fully in favor of Resolution 19-188 being adopted.

Bruce Lum

Post Author: HANSTF