Nonprofit Seeks to End Overland Tour Helicopter Routes
The noise impacts of existing overland tour helicopter routes negatively impact Big Island residential communities, according to a press release from the nonprofit Hawaii Island Coalition Malama Pono. These noise impacts could be eliminated if tour helicopters followed the Hawai‘i Island Offshore Helicopter Route (HIOHR), the release stated.
These existing overland tour helicopter routes fly over noise-sensitive residential communities and other noise-sensitive designated areas where tour helicopter operations are not in compliance with the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Airports Division-required TOUR AIRCRAFT OPERATORS PERMIT as specified in Hawai‘i Administrative Rules, Airports Division, Chapter 34, TOUR AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS AT PUBLIC AIRPORTS, according to the HICoP board.
Existing overland routes impact a large number of people on Hawai‘i Island, including constituents, residents, tourists, visitors, businesses and more (see below).
“This incessant near constant tour helicopter noise nuisance pollution impacts the quality of life, the health, the use and enjoyment of property and the value of property,” said the HICoP board.
HIOHR eliminates these impacts, the board said. The offshore route also has many benefits for the helicopter tour operators.
The offshore route is the method the Federal Aviation Administration uses to remove helicopter noise from islands.
“The offshore route is in use today on another island and has been overwhelmingly upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second highest court in the land, below the Supreme Court,” the board said.
There is no legislation needed to implement the HIOHR on Hawai‘i Island. The FAA has the (sole) authority and the responsibility to immediately implement the HIOHR.
“The incessant, near-constant tour helicopter noise has been going on for 30 to 40 years,” the HICoP board wrote. “It is long past time to restore to Hawai‘i Island the serenity we all need and deserve.
The press releases also stated that more than 50% of the members of the Senate and the House voted for HIOHR to become law in 2012, mandating that tour helicopter operators entering airspace over a national park report each and every time they entered a park; at four national parks, the operators must pay a $25 fee per entry.
The reporting is mandated but voluntarily done and there is no verification the reporting is correct or complete.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has more tour helicopter overflights than any other individual national park in the nation.
According to a 2016 report for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, 15,489 tour helicopter entries to the park. There are many other non-reported helicopter operations on Hawai‘i Island, including those that do not accurately report, those that do not enter the park, those that operate in other areas of Hawai‘i Island, charter flights that enter the park (or not), administrative helicopter operations and more, according to HICoP.
Go to hicop.org and click on the change.org link to see the comments made by Big Island residents, sign the petition and comment to Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, and Reps. Gabbard and Hanabusa. The petition asks the Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation to implore the FAA to implement the HIOHR on Hawai‘i Island as soon as possible.
The sole purpose of HICoP is to address tour helicopter noise on Hawai‘i Island and advocate for a meaningful solution to return serenity to Hawai‘i Island, free from tour helicopter noise. HICoP advocates for the FAA solution for helicopter noise on islands, FAA Rule 14 CFR Part 93, which mandates an offshore route. HICoP advocates for the Hawai‘i Island offshore Helicopter Route ( HIOHR).