Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Thursday, February 25, 1999

They’re not flying low,
they’re just ‘neighborly’

For a long while, we at Harbor Square would see the occasional police or fire helicopter and once in a while, we'd see a larger one land and take off from the area by Queen's Hospital. The last 1-1/2 years have seen the helicopter traffic pattern change drastically as the aircraft exited Punchbowl and the area mauka of us. Now it seems everybody likes to fly over the federal building or, even worse, in the corridor between our building and the federal building. I have seen aircraft at eye level (from the top floor of Harbor Square) and even below. I've tried calling the airport tower and the FAA but have gotten nowhere. I was told by some guy that there are no restrictions on helicopters, even over residential areas. Why can't they fly over the Diamond Head side of the federal building or over Restaurant Row (Ewa end by Punchbowl Street)? And why the heck do they have to fly so darn low?"

Both police and fire department spokesmen say they are flying according to Federal Aviation Administration regulations and at the direction of FAA tower controllers at Honolulu Airport.

For example, Honolulu Police Department pilots will fly at 500 feet until they pass the buildings, then drop to 300 feet, said HPD spokeswoman Jean Motoyama. "This is what the FAA wants them to do as they approach the airport."

FAA Pacific Representative Thomas Rea explained further: Although fixed-wing aircraft must fly at 1,000 feet or higher in "congested areas," there are no minimum altitudes that helicopters must maintain.

"The majority of helicopters flying over the city of Honolulu are flying under visual flight rules, which requires pilots to see and be seen for separation purposes rather than guidance by air traffic controllers," Rea said.

Helicopters going mauka to makai over the city are in the process of entering the controlled airspace of Honolulu Airport. "It is imperative that these aircraft enter the airspace at the lowest altitude over the water to ensure that no conflicts occur with departures off the two major runways at Honolulu International," Rea said.

He said the helicopter industry is committed to its "Fly Neighborly" program in working with the community to lessen the effects of noise, "but in some cases, little relief is possible without affecting other areas in the community."

Your suggestion that helicopters be diverted to the Diamond Head side of the federal building, for example, would simply divert the noise to residents of One Waterfront Towers, Rea said.

But the FAA, through its Flight Standards safety program, "will continue to communicate to the helicopter operators the noise sensitive area over the city and to request that they maintain as high an altitude as possible while transitioning over the city of Honolulu," he said.

Meanwhile, he said residents should report what they consider "consistent non-compliance by some aircraft, so that we can further communicate this to the operators involved."



To performance theaters with general admission shows that condone the inconsiderate actions of a few people who come early and reserve seats, sometimes rows. This causes a big inconvenience to families because it's difficult to find seats between these "reserved lots." This is unfair and needs to be stopped. -- No name



To Wahine basketball player B.J. Itoman. You have been an inspiration to many senior citizens like me. As I watched you play your last game, holding back tears, it was like losing a Misora Hibari of Japanese music. -- No Name

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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