Helicopter Noise Again Makes Things Worse

Brad Horner
Sunday September 24, 2017 - 06:52:00 PM

I was looking over your December 2014 article, Helicopters: How Police Tactics Fuel Confrontation, and was startled by how closely it resembles the current situation:

It's stunning to me that the problem just gets worse, especially if you are living near the center of town anywhere. I hope that someone can follow up and understand why nobody can take responsibility for this noise. It has an affect on our health.

If you want to pursue this topic, the best I can do is offer my FAA and Berkeley Health Division's rejection letters and understand the system is not working at the moment, for this issue. 

Here are my response letters. Apologies for the wall of text. 


Dear Mr. Horner, 

Thank you for your email concerning helicopter noise. I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with our office. I understand that the helicopter noise may be disruptive and result in a variety of effects. The FAA has a long history of studying noise related effects in order to minimize them to the extent possible through research and development, and mitigation measures. Currently, FAA is conducting research examining noise abatement procedures for helicopters and to better understand the human reaction to helicopter noise at different levels. 

The FAA’s mission is to ensure the safe and efficient use of our nation’s navigable airspace. The agency does not have the authority to prohibit aircraft overflights of a particular geographic area unless the operation is unsafe, or the aircraft is operated in a manner inconsistent with Federal Aviation Regulations. Additionally, the FAA does not have restrictions that prevent helicopters from hovering. If you know/can identify who is operating the helicopters you are hearing (i.e., media, law enforcement), you may try contacting them directly for more information about their operations. If you are concerned about safety, you can contact the nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) at https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/. Please note that the FSDO does not address noise issue. It will address safety concerns. 

I realize that this response may not provide you with the desired relief from helicopter noise that you requested in your email message. However, the FAA is continuing to manage the national airspace system in a safe and efficient manner while also continuing to develop measures to reduce noise. 

Rick Riley 

Assistant to the Noise Ombudsman
Federal Aviation Administation
Washington, DC 



Good Afternoon Brad, 

Thank you for contacting the City of Berkeley Environmental Health. It seems you have already contacted the correct agency to address the helicopters. The supervising inspector recommended reaching out to the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the noise they cause, as we have no jurisdiction in that area. 



Evanney Salisi 

Office Specialist II 

City of Berkeley 

Environmental Health Division