Congressman Ed Case, D-Hawaii, announced his intentions to introduce a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives designed to tighten regulations for commercial air tours on Thursday. Citing the recent fatal crashes of a tour helicopter in Kailua and a skydiving flight at Mokuleia’s Dillingham Airfield, Case says his proposed “Safe and Quiet Skies Act” will direct the FAA to “adopt tighter safety recommendations long advanced by the [NTSB].”
“This current situation is not acceptable for both safety and community impact concerns,” Case wrote in a letter seeking support for the bill. “Regarding ground disruption and risk, the FAA takes the position that its responsibility is strictly operational safety and national airspace efficiency and does not extend to ground disruption and other negative impacts. As a result, the operators, aside from strict takeoff and approach, avoidance of established flight paths and other limited circumstances, are virtually free to fly wherever, whenever and as often as they want. And they do, with little to no self-regulation.” According to Case, the bill will include requirements that tour flights maintain an altitude of 1,500 feet AGL other than for takeoff and landing, be no louder than 55 dbA above occupied areas and follow sterile cockpit procedures. It would also allow states and localities to impose additional requirements and prohibit tour flights over military installations, national cemeteries, national wilderness areas, national parks and national wildlife refuges. No timeline for the introduction of the bill has been made public.