Bob – For the HICoP Board
July 7, 2021
HANSTF JULY 20, 2021 MEETING AGENDA
Following the April 20, 2021 HANSTF meeting, HICoP wrote HANSTF the email attached below.
Excerpts from HICoP email:
If the Goal of the Task Force is “Address noise concerns pertaining to the Hawaii air tour industry” it has been a total failure to date since no meaningful action has been taken and there is non on the horizon.
HICoP suggests that the next meeting, 3 months away, July 20, 2021, be exclusively dedicated to the common knowledge existing tour copter noise dilemma that is created by the tour copters transiting over occupied properties and how this noise torture can be eliminated forthwith.
The posted HANSTF agenda for the July 20, 2021 meeting only proposes “will conduct a Virtual Public Meeting to gather input and information from community members regarding overflight noise and safety concerns East Honolulu to Waimanalo area of Oahu.”
HANSTF has already received comments from the public on:
September 22, 2020 Pearl City, Oahu Focused Virtual Public Meeting,
September 24, 2020 Kailua, Oahu Focused Virtual Public Meeting,
December 1, 2020, Maui and Kaua’i Focused Virtual Public Meeting,
December 3, 2020, Hilo and Kona Focused Virtual Public Meeting
The FAA Western-Pacific Regional Administrator and Hawaii Airports Division were in attendance at the above meetings and heard the public plead for relief from the incessant tour copter noise nuisance pollution torture.
HANSTF has had two meetings since those previous Public Meetings listed above and the FAA Western-Pacific Regional Administrator and Hawaii Airports Division were in attendance at both those meetings.
:January 19, 2021, Hawaii Air Noise and Safety Task Force Virtual Meeting,
April 20, 2021, Hawaii Air Noise and Safety Task Force Virtual Meeting
HANSTF was announced on: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 9, 2020 Hawaii Air Tour Task Force to Address Safety and Noise. ( hanstf.org )
Besides the current above mentioned HANSTF public hearings on tour copter noise nuisance pollution the following public hearing meetings were also held as listed below:
1. Airport Division Deputy Director Ross Higashi met with HICoP at UH Hilo on August 9, 2016 where he was told by the HICoP Board about the unbearable tour copter noise torture on Hawaii Island,
2. The FAA Western-Pacific Regional Administrator held a standing room only public hearing at Hilo Airport on March 3, 2017
3. The FAA Western-Pacific Regional Administrator and Airports Division Deputy Director Ross Higashi jointly held a standing room only public hearing at Hilo Nani Mau on August 16, 2018,
The 2021 Hawaii Legislature HCR 81 was sent to HANSTF and requested:
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE
2021 STATE OF HAWAII HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION URGING THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, AND HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO TAKE EVERY ACTION NECESSARY TO ADDRESS RAPIDLY INCREASING SAFETY RISKS AND COMMUNITY DISRUPTION RESULTING FROM INSUFFICIENT REGULATION OF RAPIDLY INCREASING OPERATIONS OF TOUR HELICOPTERS AND SMALL AIRCRAFT THROUGHOUT HAWAII SKIES.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Hawaii Air Noise and Safety Task Force is urged to immediately respond substantively to public safety and community disruption concerns with clear changes to operations to reduce time, place, and manner of operations;
It would be an understatement to say that meaningful action by the responsible government entities, the FAA and the Hawaii Airports Division, is totally unnecessarily nonexistent.
HICoP asks HANSTF again;
HICoP suggests that the next meeting, 3 months away, July 20, 2021, be exclusively dedicated to the common knowledge existing noise dilemma that is created by the tour copters transiting over occupied properties and how this noise torture can be eliminated forthwith.
For the HICoP Board
Bob – For the HICoP Board
April 21, 2021
If the Goal of the Task Force is “Address noise concerns pertaining to the Hawaii air tour industry” it has been a failure to date since no meaningful action has been taken and there is non on the horizon.
The co-chairs were again absent from the meeting so agenda item 4 going back to the January 21, 2021 HANSTF meeting regarding a study consultant remains unexplained.
Agenda item 6.a. by the FAA did not provide any reference to how the FAA will address “noise”.
Hawaii is the most tour copter impacted State in the Nation yet we have had no meaningful action to address the Hawaii tour industry noise provided by the HANSTF Task Force Members.
So another 3 months to the next quarterly meeting and another 3 months of totally unnecessary tour copter noise nuisance pollution torture for the people of Hawaii.
HICoP suggests that the next meeting, 3 months away, be exclusively dedicated to the common knowledge existing tour copter noise dilemma that is created by the tour copters transiting over occupied properties and how this noise torture can be eliminated forthwith.
For the HICoP Board
July 13, 2021
Noise is worst than ever now, as helicopters go overhead very frequently, sometimes as often as every 15 minutes. Why can’t they at least vary their flight plans so that the noise is distributed over more areas rather than continually going over and over one area? Why can’t we require mufflers?
In addition to the tours, we also endure lots of tourist hiking rescues by helicopter here in Maunawili. It has become invasive and awful. So much for our green, quiet Windward community. This is part of the reason why local folks are fed up with over tourism.
July 17, 2021
Mānoa Neighborhood Board No. 7, City and County of Honolulu, has received numerous comments from concerned residents about the issue of aircraft noise and safety, particularly small aircraft.
While the board has not yet adopted a motion regarding aircraft noise pollution or safety concerns, the board intends to consider a resolution in support of stronger aircraft regulation of these issues, at its next meeting.
July 17, 2021
Today, 7/16, I logged 15 helicopters flying by Waimanalo between 3:15-6:15pm, as part of O’ahu circle island tours. Only 3 out of the 15 flew offshore, which is preferred – to keep our country town quiet. With the constant air traffic from sun up to sun down, it sounds like military training. Many fly way too low across residential areas, causing a noise disturbance like weed wackers on a quiet day. Yesterday, at these same hours, there were the same amount of helicopters. The community was out in force because Rainbow O’ahu Helicopter Tours put an ad on Craigslist. The job description was to pick up a “Marry Me?” banner at the airport and peg the huge 10×60 foot banner in the sand at Waimanalo. That is illegal commercial activity. It is advertised on their website. Our city and state do not allow billboards and no one can do such on DLNR and DHHL land. No amount of money will allow these companies to bribe our community. They’re selling out paradise. There’s no aloha in that. Please consider enforcing helicopters to stay offshore. Besides flying over residential areas, I’m concerned because they also fly low over protected areas where endangered birds live, breed and nest. If people want to feel Hawai’i, it’s better to keep their feet planted and absorb it’s beautiful energy. I have a spreadsheet of when they flew over land between East Honolulu and Waimanalo, and also flight radar screenshots with time stamp of each flight recorded. I’m not able to upload them to this form but can email it to you.
July 18, 2021
The Waimanalo Community is being inundated with commercial tour helicopters (and more recently with new fixed-winged tour operators). The volume of these tours is grossly unregulated and has become a huge safety and health issue for our communities (as evidenced by the helicopter crash in Kailua and countless emergency landings over the years).
My family lives in Maunawili. All flights that fly over Waimanalo fly into Maunawili. Tour helicopters are allowed to fly whenever, wherever they choose (with little direction from the Kaneohe MCBH tower which only “warns” pilots about inclement weather or military flights–as confirmed in a tour of Kaneohe MCBH tower operations by a Sub-Committee of the Kailua Neighborhood Board).
Unfortunately, all but a few of the commercial tour flights that depart HNL Airport fly through East Oahu communities, through Waimanalo, over Mt. Olomana, into Maunawili, and then onto Kaneohe. Pre-Covid, the volume of tour helicopters over Waimanalo/Olomana/Maunawili (based on data from the FlightRadar24 app) had reached a tipping point. We averaged a helicopter overhead every 4 to 5 minutes from 7 am to 6 pm—every day. It became so unbearable that my family actually considered moving from our home of 20+ years. Then we realized that there was no place to go! We are buzzed by helicopters while at our family property in Pupukea, at Ho’omaluhia in Kaneohe, Diamond Head, at Makapuʻu beach, on hiking trails, at City and State parks, and while having coffee in Manoa. There is virtually no escaping the incessant drone of these helicopters. The quiet skies created by Covid highlighted how dire the problem had become. We were overjoyed to hear the birds again. While the volumes have not quite reached these levels, they have already become unbearable–and international tourists are not even here yet!
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE HELP US GET OUR SKIES BACK SO WE CAN FEEL SAFE AND PEACEFUL IN OUR OWN HOMES AGAIN.
Prohibit commercial tours from flying over our communities and have them fly one mile offshore. The tourists will still get to experience the beauty of the Island, but not at the cost of we Kama’aina that call this place home.
lani blissard blissard
July 18, 2021
The noise from tour helicopters in the East Honolulu area is terrible. We often have to pause conversations, turn up the TV, and sometimes wear earplugs. Also, undoubtedly more accidents will happen, and like the Kailua one, some may be in neighborhoods. It is just unacceptable. To put the preferences of the tour businesses above the peace, safety and health of Hawaii residents is very wrong. These tour aircraft should never be over residential areas.
July 19, 2021
I live in East Honolulu and my neighborhood of Niu Valley experiences loud invasions of helicopter noise on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. It is more than just a nuisance. It negatively impacts our quality of life, afflicting our health with undue stress, disrupting our sleep and depriving us the right to the quiet enjoyment of our homes. It’s not just a noice issue, it’s a safety issue. Over the past 40 years, there have been more than 60 crashes in Hawai‘i, nearly 20 with fatalities. In total, over 50 passengers and 11 pilots have died, with helicopters crashing into not just airstrips, but downtown and residential homes. We need a safer Hawai‘i that’s also more livable for residents. Mahalo, Jeannine Johnson
July 19, 2021
Dear Hawaii Air Noise and Safety Task Force Members,
Would you please address the following issues concerning aviation noise in all of Hawaii at your July 20, 2021 meeting?
The most important thing is to note that the last legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 81 asking many of the participants of this meeting to work together to find solutions to the well-documented air tour nuisance problem. I certainly hope that the members of this task force recognize the urgency and intensity of this problem and take this resolution to heart.
Other recent legislation concerning the air tour nuisance problem included Senate Bill 1403, which would have required helicopter owners and operators retain and make available records containing basic flight information. Although this bill sailed through committee meetings, beyond the last minute Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay submitted testimony stating that this bill would be a violation of Federal Grant Assurances No. 22. However, I have been unable to find any information in this document that backs up that statement. What specific section was Director Butay referring to?
Concerning the same bill, Attorney General Claire Connors sent in late testimony discouraging legislators from passing this bill because of the possibility it would be subject to a legal challenge. While that is true of all bills, this testimony cited Skysign International Inc. v. Honolulu, 276 F.3d (9th Cir. 2007) when stating “that when it comes to the regulation of airspace there is a ‘history of significant federal presence.'” However, this case was decided in favor of the City and County of Honolulu, which does, indeed, have the right to restrict some types of aviation activities. In fact — as the Attorney General was made aware of months before this testimony was submitted — the First District U.S. Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in City of Naples Airport Authority v. F.A.A., 409 F.3d 431 (1st Cir. 2005) that local municipalities do, indeed, have a right to control aviation nuisance in their airspace. The Attorney General’s testimony concludes that this bill would be subject to a preemptive challenge. While this is certainly correct, why is that a concern since the challenge would be summarily dismissed? Is it moral and ethical for the Attorney General to provide such misleading testimony to our legislators when it was too late to be rebutted?
Also at the state government level, there have been very workable proposals for amending the Hawaii Administrative Rules delivered to Directors of both the Department of Transportation and Department of Health describing simple alterations to the existing rules governing aircraft that could easily be enacted. Why have these proposals been ignored? Would the members of this committee be willing to assist in getting these logical solutions to this huge problem underway?
Although it has been over twenty years since the United States Congress ordered the creation of an Air Tour Management Program for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, it took a First Circuit Court of Appeals order to get our rangers to act. The court-ordered schedule requires public hearings on draft ATMP Environmental Impacts Statements for some parks be held by August 31, 2021. Will HVNP, which has always been considered the flagship of the ATMP program, be one of these? If not, when will we get to see what is being proposed for the future of our island? Also — as has been pointed out many times before — since HVNP is collecting fees from pilots utilizing park airspace, it is also responsible for all the pollution this activity produces [40 C.F.R. Section 1508.8]. Will the newest version of the HVNP ATMP address the massive damage the indirect effects of your program does to our island’s environment and the lives of the people whose ancestors have lived here since long before the park was established?
Lastly, I was very surprised by the comments made by Hawaii Helicopter Association representative Mr. Casey Riemer at the April 20, 2021 meeting of HANSTF: “And to only single out aviation noise, …. I have a little bit of difficulty with that because there’s other noises, other sounds in (Mr. Ernst’s) area that are as loud or louder, but I don’t know if anybody’s worried about those noises and why is aviation the only thing being singled out?” There are currently local laws and regulations that place audio limitations on heavy equipment, all vehicles, industrial activity, bars, arenas, boom boxes, police sirens, fireworks, barking dogs, and roosters. Hawaii Island actually has a county ordinance still on the books that restricts the noise made by dancehalls! Do other pilots also feel they are being singled out for persecution?