Case reintroduces bill to restrict air tours over neighborhoods

U.S. Rep. Ed Case, a Hawaii Democrat, re-introduced a measure to impose strict safety and community disruption regulations on commercial air tour operations to include helicopters and small planes.

His Safe and Quiet Skies Act would, among other things, require that tour flights fly above the 1,500-foot altitude over actual ground at all times with very limited exceptions for emergencies and takeoff and landing; tour flights over occupied areas — including residential, commercial and recreational areas — to be no louder than 55 decibels, the same level of noise commonly allowed for residential areas; and prohibit tour flights over military installations, national cemeteries, national wilderness areas, national parks and national wildlife refuges.

“In my Hawaii alone, we saw three dead in the crash of a commercial air tour helicopter into a residential neighborhood, 11 more dead in the crash of a commercial skydiving plane and then seven more dead in a commercial air tour helicopter crash in a remote mountain region,” Case told House members while introducing the bill. “… These have disrupted whole communities with excessive noise and other impacts, destroyed the peace and sanctity of special places, increased risk to not only passengers but those on the ground and weakened security and management of defense operations.”

Case’s bill was introduced in the last Congressional session, but didn’t receive a hearing in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

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