Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Wednesday, January 27, 1999

State has hot line set up
for aircraft complaints

How do I report low-flying helicopters and airplanes? I live on lower Maunalani Heights. Mostly military helicopters seem to use this flight path heading east and returning. Note: This is the same flight path the Air Guard jets take for ceremonies at Punchbowl. I have no complaint about that because it's so seldom and they don't cause the ruckus other aircraft do. I have spoken to a military flight controller from Wheeler who told me that the height an aircraft flies shouldn't cause any problems. Then why the tremendous noise and vibrations?

Complaints about civilian aircraft can be made to the state Department of Transportation's hot line, 1-888-697-7813.

The agreement is that the state office compiles all the civilian complaints and "then shares that information with us," said Thomas Rea, Pacific representative for the Federal Aviation Administration. "Sometimes it's under our purview and sometimes it's under theirs."

If you feel something needs immediate resolution, contact the nearest FAA office, Rea said. But preferably, complaints should be funneled through the state DOT.

Complaints about military aircraft or training activities should be directed to specific branches, if you can identify them: Army, 655-8727; Navy, 684-7101; Air Force, 449-2490; Marine Corps aircraft/unit training, 257-5728, or noise hot line, 257-2121 (day), 257-2898 (night); Coast Guard, 541-2121; and National Guard, 733-4258.

Operations will cease at Barbers Point Naval Air Station on July 2. After that, complaints about Navy aircraft will be handled by the Marine Corps.

(Complaints about equipment noise on a military base should be made to the state Department of Health's noise section, 586-4700.)

For unknown aircraft, contact the U.S. Pacific Command, 477-6282, and they will forward the complaint to the appropriate military command for investigation and response.

Call immediately or as soon as possible, said Lt. Col. Kevin Krejcarek, spokesman for the Pacific Command. "Don't wait five or 10 days later. That's not going to help us pinpoint an airplane."

Give as many details as possible: location, time, description (color, jet or propeller, number of propellers, etc.), estimated flight height and direction of travel.

Military aircraft are required to adhere to restricted zones and minimum altitudes, which differ depending on where they are flying (unpopulated vs. populated or densely populated areas).

While military aircraft may spur complaints, Krejcarek pointed out that "we have certain flight altitudes that are authorized."

The Hawaii National Guard, for example, is responsible for defending the islands, he said. "With all the modern technology, we still have aircraft of unknown origin heading toward or over the islands," he said. "So (the Guard) will scramble to try to intercept to find out what that is."

In those cases, rare as they may be these days, planes may have to go over the mountains, over "a lot of homes in the valleys and hillsides" and generate "a lot of F15 noise. But that's for the defense of the state," Krejcarek said.

Also, an aircraft "may have been at the proper altitude on an authorized flight pattern, but there are atmospheric conditions (such as quiet, still nights) that have to be taken into consideration," he said.

"If you have an aircraft that flies over your house, and you're irritated by it, it may have been doing everything right. Military services will take a look at it to see whether maybe we shouldn't fly there or if it absolutely is in a pattern we can't change," Krejcarek said.

"There are times we may not resolve (a complaint to your satisfaction), but we will do our very best" to check it out and correct a problem if indeed there was one, he said.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

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