Big Island residents want an end to constant ‘disruptive’ drone of helicopters

Big Island residents call for a break from the constant drone of helicopters

HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the Big Island, residents have been complaining about the noise pollution caused by commercial helicopters for years.

But they say it has become significantly worse since the Kilauea eruptions in the lower east rift zone started in May.

Some residents say they are forced to listen to more than 100 commercial helicopter flights a day.

They say because the helicopters are flying at such low altitudes, the noise is constant — from sunrise to sunset.

The state Department of Transportation's Airport Division held a meeting Tuesday afternoon in Hilo, where about 200 people packed into a room at the Nani Mau Gardens.

Transportation officials, along with representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Hawaii Helicopter Association, listened as residents from Hamakua to Kau described why they feel their peace and privacy are being violated.

"They're flying over residential neighborhoods and this never used to happen before. I try to take a nap in the afternoons and it is disruptive," said one resident.

State lawmakers have been pushing for an Air Tour Management Plan for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as other policies, to regulate helicopter tours.

They say Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sees more commercial helicopter flights than any other individual park in the nation.

"There's not much the state of Hawaii can do because the Federal Aviation Administration, ultimately the federal government, controls the air space. So it's either going to require federal legislation, the federal government getting involved with the FAA, the Local Flight Standards district office, or the helicopter tour companies self-policing their operations," said state Sen. Kai Kahele, whose district covers Hilo.

There was also a bill introduced last session that would have required the state health department to study the impacts of helicopter noise on residents, but the proposal died in the House.

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