FAA seeks input on helicopter petition

The Federal Aviation Administration is accepting comments on the reauthorization of a 1994 FAA rule, SFAR 71, which established a minimum altitude of 1500 feet for Hawai‘i air tour companies. The public is invited to comment on the petition before September 8 via the Internet: http://dmses.dot.gov/submit/dspSubmission.cfm and enter docket number FAA-2003-14830.

The Sierra Club, Hawai‘i Chapter has already asked the FAA to maintain the 1500 limit, eliminate minimum altitude waivers, and allow the state and National Park Service to limit or restrict helicopter overflights in some areas.

According to the Sierra Club, most tour companies have received a waiver, allowing them to fly as low as 500 feet.

“Hawai‘i’s hikers, campers, and native forest birds deserve some peace and quiet,” said Jeff Mikulina, Director of the Sierra Club, Hawai‘i Chapter in a press release. In a letter to the FAA, the Sierra Club requested that the state be able to designate certain areas over state wilderness parks as no-fly areas as well as granting the National Park Service the same power for Hawai‘i’s national parks.

“The sky above the Na Pali should be the sole dominion of the birds — the kind without tail rotors,” said Judy Dalton, Outings Chair of the Sierra Club, Kaua’i Group.

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